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The penultimate round of the South African Rotax MAX Challenge Kart Championships is set to take place at Formula-K Raceway in Benoni this weekend. It is expected to be another exciting round of Rotax karting, with competitors from all over the country gathering in Gauteng from Thursday to Saturday. They’ll aim to enhance their prospects of becoming national champions and securing a spot at the Olympics of Karting, the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) in Italy, later this year.

In 2023, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy made a mark by being represented in three classes at the RMCGF. KC Ensor-Smith (National Senior MAX Champion), Kent Swartz (National Junior MAX Champion), and Reagile Mailula (Mini MAX African Open Champion) all participated in Bahrain, and this season, the team is hoping to repeat this feat with more representation at the RMCGF.

However, the academy drivers face a tough challenge as they will have to win their respective national championships to secure a spot at the RMCGF. The African Open, a wild card event in which the winner also receives a ticket to the finals, saw no triumph for the academy drivers. The potential for surprise outcomes adds an element of intrigue to the event, making it a must-watch for all motorsport enthusiasts.

Jason Coetzee holds a narrow DD2 class lead over the reigning champion and 2024 African Open winner, Sebastian Boyd, with the pair having recorded two wins each. Fellow academy driver and class rookie Karabo Malemela is currently ranked fourth following a challenging start to his campaign. Both drivers compete in the Northern Regions Rotax Kart Championships and will rely on their recent form to produce what will hopefully be a one-two result for the academy.

In the fiercely contested Senior MAX class, former National and Regional Junior MAX Champion Swartz will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to make up for the ground he lost in a doomy opening round of the championship. Despite a solid second round that saw him finish as runner-up in all three heats, Swartz lies fifth in the points standings. The Benoni circuit has, however, been a happy hunting ground for the Johannesburg driver who, in 2023, stood on the podium twice, once as the winner.

Junior MAX lass Emma-Rose Dowling has had a challenging start to her rookie season following two gruelling rounds. Like her fellow academy drivers, she has been in good form of late and will hope to carry that momentum into the national round this weekend. With no mathematical chance of winning the championship, her skill and determination have not gone unnoticed, with Dowling being invited to participate in the Iron Dames Young Talents Program, which aims to detect and support young female talents in karting worldwide.

The academy’s youngest driver, Tshepang Shisinwana, heads up the Mini MAX class following a solid start to his season. The former double national champion has recorded three podiums and a win this season and has been brisk in the regional competition lately. With any one of five drivers able to win a Mini MAX heat, Shisinwana will have to be at the top of his game to fend off a host of challengers.

The action started on Thursday with an unofficial practice, followed by an official practice on Friday. Qualifying is scheduled for Friday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s three race heats. Entry is free, making this event accessible to all motorsport enthusiasts.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

Picture Caption: Tshepang Shisinwana heads up the Mini MAX national championship after two rounds.

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