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The season-ending global Rotax spectacle concluded this past weekend, where 11 South Africans, including four Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy (TGRJA) drivers, vied to be crowned Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) champions. Hosted at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit in the Kingdom of Bahrain, it was the first outing to the desert kingdom for all four drivers.

As always, the best Rotax racers worldwide were present to showcase their talent, making up 384 competitors from 61 countries. TGRJA was represented in four of the eight classes at this year’s finals. Besides KC Ensor-Smith, who had previous RMCGF experience, Kian Grottis, Kent Swartz, and Reagile Mailula were all making their first appearances at the “Olympics of Karting.”

Better known as “Spice,” Reagile Mailula competed in a 72-competitor field and qualified 44th overall. Hailing from Johannesburg, Spice, who earned an entry for RMCGF after winning the 2023 African Open, crossed the line in 13th, 32nd and 18th in his qualification heats to start his Pre-Final from 20th. In the Pre-Final, Spice took the chequered flag in an impressive 10th, which saw him secure a place in the final. Starting from the 31st position, he put on a remarkable display of skill to make up a staggering 20 positions to finish 11th.

The South African Rotax MAX Challenge (SARMC) National Kart and African Open Champion Kent Swartz, who palmed in the academy’s third national championship in two years, was also making his maiden appearance at the RMCGF. Swartz impressed on debut and qualified 38th before recording a 24th, 12th and 16th finish for a 16th starting position in his Pre-Final heat. While he crossed the finish line in the 20th position, he did not accumulate sufficient points in the collective results to progress to the finals.

Appearing at his third RMCGF, KC Ensor-Smith, the current SARMC National Senior MAX Champion, endured a challenging week and qualified 50th overall. Recording a 32nd, 17th, and 30th place finish, the Witbank resident started his Pre-Final heat from 29th. Despite working his way up the order, he would eventually take the chequered flag in 30th and miss out on the final.

In the premier DD2 class, Johannesburg’s Kian Grottis qualified 44th overall before concluding his three heats with a 36th, 34th and 32nd result. Starting 36th in his Pre-Final heat he made up an astonishing 16 positions to finish 21st. Unfortunately, he failed to qualify for the final.

Leeroy Poulter sang his driver’s praises after the event and remained upbeat about returning to the event in 2024. “The drivers all like this event and want to come back and win, so we are going to work hard again with our team and see if we can come back.”

In 2024, the RMCGF will return to Italy and the Circuito Internazionale di Napoli from 19 – 26 October. It will be the third visit to the circuit that hosted the RMCGF in 2016 and 2019.

The RMCGF celebrates the unifying power of motorsport, where racers from different countries and backgrounds come together to showcase their skills and passion for racing. It is a platform for current racing stars to shine and serves as a breeding ground for the sport’s future stars. It provides an opportunity for young and upcoming racers to gain exposure, experience, and recognition in the competitive world of motorsport. Overall, the RMCGF is a significant event in the karting world, and its impact on the sport and the racing community is immeasurable.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: KC Ensor-Smith

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