One of the most diverse entries ever received for a karting championship meeting, run on African soil, has been received for this year’s Rotax African Open. On August 20, 2017, drivers from no less than five different African countries as well as a driver from the UAE will compete at the Zwartkops Kart Raceway.
And the prizes up for grabs include entries and tickets to the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal on 4-11 November, 2017, where drivers from up to 60 countries will compete for this World Championship of Rotax karting!
“What’s really exciting is the depth and breadth of entries we’ve received for this year’s event,” says Rotax organiser Jennifer Verheul. “We have drivers arriving from the east of the continent from Kenya, from the west in Angola and from the north in the UAE. We also have entries from our neighbouring countries Mozambique and Zimbabwe.”
The visitors will have their work cut out to beat our local drivers on August 20. However, making their lives easier will be the running of a Northern Regions championship meeting at Zwartkops the day before on August 19, a Saturday, and the visitors are entering this meeting too, as a chance to learn the Zwartkops track and set their karts up for Pretoria’s unique conditions, which includes running at fairly high altitude.
The prizes of this year’s category winners on August 20 are as follows:
DD2: The winner of this top gearbox class gets an entry, and a free brand-new kart chassis, engine, tyres and fuel to compete in the week-long Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal in November
DD2 Masters: The winner gets the same prize as that of the DD2 class winner (entry to Grand Finals, kart, equipment etc)
Senior Max: The winner of this class gets the same prize (kart, engine etc), and an entry to compete in the DD2 class (not the Senior Max class).
Junior Max: The winner of this class gets the same prize, but the chance to compete in the World Junior Max Grand Finals.
Mini Max: The winner gets an air ticket for himself (or herself) and one parent to spectate at the Grand Finals.
Micro Max: The winner here gets the same prize as the Mini Max winner (air tickets) to the Grand Finals in Algarve, Portugal, at the Portimao Motorsport complex.
“The prizes need some explanation,” says Ed Murray, Rotax importer for the Southern Africa region, who recently returned from meetings with the Rotax in Austria.
“There are limited berths for each category at the Grand Finals, and at present we can only have one representative from South Africa in both Mini Max and Micro Max. In this case, our designated driver in each of these classes will be the winner of our year-long National Rotax Championship series which ends with our final Zwartkops on September 24.
“A similar situation applies to the Senior Max class, and so the organisers have very kindly offered our African Open winner in Senior Max a drive in the top DD2 category in Portugal, as there is less pressure for entries here from all 60 countries involved.”
As for the racing itself, the winners should come from our Rotax South African National Karting Championship points leaders, with a few exceptions.
DD2. Here Bradley Liebenberg has a pretty firm hand on this year’s title with one round to go and he will be favourite for African Open honours too. Last year’s African Open winner Fabienne Lanz will be aiming to gain her entry to the Grand finals this year but will have her work cut out for her with the recent form of Ivana Cetinich. Ivana became the first female driver to win a DD2 National Championship race at Round Three of the nationals in Idube. Mixing it up with these drivers will be Leeroy Poulter, Marouan Selmi and KZN’s Jonathan Pieterse. These drivers compete in the DD2 Masters category (for drivers 32 years old and over) but they are easily capable of winning overall. Justin Allison from Bloemfontein is also a dark horse after good regional showing lately, as is Benjamin Habig.
Senior Max: Cape Town’s Luke Herring and Dino Stermin, and Gauteng’s Cameron O’Connor are currently locked in a dog-fight for the Senior Max title with only three points separating them, while Jason Coetzee (WP) is also in with a chance of the title. These drivers will all be keen to sew up a Grand Finals seat on August 20, as will the on-form Daniel Duminy, a KZN driver who is for the moment doing his racing in Gauteng. A wild card could be KZN’s karting returnee, Clinton Bezuidenhout.
Junior Max: Jason Coetzee has been having a brilliant and busy season and is not only in contention for the Senior Max title but is also leading the Junior Max category. Hot on his heels will be Cape aces Charl Visser, and Sebastian Boyd, with KZN’s Dominic Lincoln and Gauteng’s Jayden Els and Cameron Dias there or thereabouts.
Mini Max: Leyton Fourie from Alberton has been dominant in Mini Max so far this season, although he was recently pipped in a regional event by Jarrod Waberski, which could indicate a change in form at the sharp end of this field for drivers aged 10 to 13. Kai van Zyl and Tate Bishop from WP and Aqil Alibhai and Daniel de Paiva from Gauteng are also well capable of getting a win at Zwartkops.
In Micro Max Muhammed Wally and Josh de Paiva are fighting it out in the Nationals. Valentino Hoffman and Reza Levy are also very competitive and wins could come from each of these drivers.
The visiting drivers from outside of South Africa entered to date for the African Open are as follows:
Angola: Keoni Kiala (Micro Max) and Nuno Diogo (Junior Max)
Kenya: Jevin Gohil (Senior Max)
Mozambique: Carmo Novela (Mini Max), Jeffrey Novela (Junior Max) and Cristian Bouche (DD2)
UAE: Yusuf Moola (Junior Max)
Zimbabwe: Zachary Dufty (Junior Max)