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Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy (TGRJA) weathered a tough Gauteng regional championship on 22 June. As the contest reached its halfway mark in the season, various incidents, penalties, and exclusions ruined the potential for high scores for all Academy drivers in their respective Rotax classes.

Despite not securing a win this past weekend, Jason Coetzee displayed remarkable resolve. He managed to secure a triple podium result, finishing third on the day and keeping his championship hopes alive. Coetzee’s journey was not without challenges, as he picked up a nose-cone penalty during qualifying, penalising him three positions for a third-row opening heat start. However, he made a strong start from sixth, moving into third and later second place to finish as runner-up, all while recording the heat’s fastest lap. Coetzee’s performance from the pole position for Heat 2 was slightly more challenging, but he finished third before repeating that result in the final heat. His fellow DD2 and academy driver, Karabo Malemela, also showed great pace throughout the weekend, with his results pending a scrutineering investigation along with several other competitors.

In the Senior MAX class, top qualifier Kent Swartz was part of a three-way tie for the overall award when all three drivers scored a win, a runner-up, and a third-place finish. On countback, however, Swartz was classified third but maintained his lead in the championship going into the second half of the season. His heat victory, his first at Zwartkops in 2024, sees the reigning national Junior MAX Champion having now five of his last nine heats.

Emma-Rose Dowling continued to impress with her resilience and resolve, flying the flag for the Academy and women in motorsport after another solid performance in the fiercely contested Junior MAX class. After qualifying fourth, Dowling recorded an impressive runner-up finish in the morning’s opening heat and was on her way to another in Heat 2 before an unfortunate incident saw her sidelined. Despite this setback, Dowling remained focused. Following several restarts in the final heat, she was deemed underweight at the scales and excluded from the final race result despite being on course for a top-five finish.

The fourth-placed qualifier in Mini MAX, Tshepang Shisinwana, endured three challenging heats, losing a position in the opener to cross the finish in fifth. While he bounced back in spectacular style to take the chequered flag first in Heat 2, he was awarded a five-second penalty and classified in sixth. Determined to make up for the disappointment, Shisinwana again battled his way to the front to triumph over the field, only to receive another five-second penalty for a nose-cone infringement.

While Round 5 of the Northern Regions Rotax Kart Championship is scheduled for 27 July at Zwartkops Kart Raceway, TGRJA drivers will compete in Round 3 of the National South African Rotax MAX Challenge Championship on 5-6 July at Formula-K Raceway, Benoni.

Published by: Motorsport Fanatix

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