The Toyota Gazoo Racing Junior Academy (TGRJA) had a superb MSA Northern Regions Rotax Karting Championship round at Zwartkops Kart Raceway this past Saturday (10 June) with more silverware to showcase in their 2023 trophy cabinet.
The team celebrated two victories, three further podiums, and two lap records.
Reagile Mailula finished his day on the Mini MAX podium with third place. The morning’s qualifying session saw him alongside points leader and pole sitter Caleb Odendaal on the grid. Losing positions off the line, he quickly regained second place while running ahead of Odendaal. On Lap 7, he set a new lap record at the circuit with his time of 45.784 seconds, but from there, Race 1 took a drastic turn. An incident on the next lap saw him drop down the field. He did make up the position to finish seventh, but the incident also allowed Odendaal to extend his points advantage with a win in Heat 1. The second and third heats saw Mailula, Odendaal, and Kegan Martin jostle for the lead. Mailula had to settle for the runner-up place on both occasions but with very little between the top three.
Emma-Rose Dowling, also competing in the Mini MAX class, finished sixth on the day after taking the same position in Qualifying and the day’s three heats. A maiden heat podium looked to be on the cards in Heat 2, but the final two laps saw her lose three places. Regardless, Dowling delivered a strong performance throughout the day to show her skill at the sharp end of the field, with this being her class debut season.
Kent Swartz relinquished the lead in the Junior MAX championship after finishing as runner-up to Wian Boshoff. Like Mailula, his undoing also came in Heat 1. Starting from pole position, he was involved in an incident on the opening lap that relegated him to seventh and last place. Picking up a five-second Nose Cone Infringement Penalty (NCIP) added insult to injury. However, in Heat 2, he bounced back with a win after taking the lead on Lap 5. The final heat saw him looking strong for second place in the early stages before losing positions. However, he made up a place to finish in third place.
KC Ensor-Smith extended his Senior MAX lead with his Round 4 win. The reigning Junior MAX champion won the latter two heats of the day after he had to play second fiddle to pole starter and Heat 1 winner Muhammad Wally in the morning. This marked only the second heat not won by Ensor-Smith in 2023 and the first by a driver not in the TGRJA. However, while jostling with Ethan Bostander for second place, he also set a new lap record for the circuit with a time of 41.860 seconds.
His Senior MAX teammate, Olerato Sekudu, consolidated his second place on the points table by completing the Round 4 podium. His day started on the back foot after he was found to be underweight in Qualifying, which resulted in his times being excluded. Starting Heat 1 from the rear, he worked his way up to fifth place on Lap 6, the position he held onto until the finish. The second heat saw him in a good tussle for the final podium position, while a one-two TGRJA finish in Heat 3 was prevented when Wally passed him on the last lap.
Kian Grottis’ DD2 win aided his bid to bounce back in the title race. He had a good battle with Nicolas Vostanis from pole position to take the Heat 1 victory. This battle continued in Heat 2, with a similar result. The final heat saw Brad Liebenberg joining the pair. The results were reversed this time, with Grottis taking the runner-up spot.
Round 5 of the MSA Northern Regions Rotax Karting Championship will see the team return to Zwartkops Kart Raceway on 15 July. Before that, the team will travel to Cape Town for Round 3 of the South African Rotax MAX Challenge at Killarney International Raceway on 30 June to 1 July.
Published by: Motorsport Fanatix
Picture Caption: Trophies aplenty for TGRJA
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