african open 2016With the 2016 SA Rotax Max Challenge Karting Championship having been done and dusted in mid-July, four South African champions have already won seats in the amazingly competitive 2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, which will be held in Sarno, Italy from October 15-22.

SA champs Bradley Liebenberg (DD2), Michael Stephen (DD2 Masters), Dino Stermin (Senior Max) and Cameron O’Connor (Junior Max) have all been given entries into the most amazing motorsport show on earth, where drivers are given brand new karts and engines, tyres, tools and fuel to compete on an equal footing with fellow Rotax champions from 60 countries around the world.

South African karters are fortunate, however, as this Saturday’s Rotax Max Challenge African Open run at the Zwartkops Kart Circuit sees the awarding of six more entries to the 2016 Grand Finals.

The winners of the newly inaugurated classes for younger drivers, Micro Max and Mini Max, will each gain an entry to these two new Rotax championships at the Grand Finals. The winner and runner up in the DD2 Gearbox class, the top class in South African karting, will win invites to race in the DD2 class in Italy. And the winner of the non-gearbox Senior Max category on Saturday will also win a chance to compete in the DD2 Gearbox category in Italy. The DD2 Masters (over 32 years) also has an invite up for grabs.

“The reason for this somewhat convoluted race entry decision for the Grand Finals is simply due to the world-wide explosion of the popularity of the Rotax series,” said South African Rotax importer Ed Murray.

“In the past South Africa was able to field teams of several drivers in the various classes, but as more and more countries have entered, the international organisers of the Rotax Grand Finals have had to make some tough decisions.”

“This year, as a country, we only have one entry in each of the very popular Junior Max and Senior Max divisions, and these will fall to our SA champions, Cameron O’Connor and Dino Stermin. But in DD2, the world-wide support for this class is still growing. We have thus obtained three extra entry slots in DD2 and one in the DD2 Masters category (for drivers aged 32 and over).

“Thus we took the decision to award both the winner and runner up of the one-off African Open with a drive in DD2, while the African Open winner in Senior Max, a non gearbox class, will also be offered a drive in the DD2 Gearbox class. It is purely a matter of availability and logistics at the Grand Finals, where it is expected that some 400 karters will compete this year over the week!”

Micro Max. For the first time in Rotax karting history, karters aged seven to ten will be competing for a World Championships at the Grand Finals. In South Africa, this weekend’s Micro Max event will be the first official championship race for this new class, which sees youngsters run a de-tuned 125 ccc water-cooled Rotax engine.

The interest has been huge for a class being run for the first time, and it is expected that 15 drivers will take the starter’s orders on Saturday, August 20.

A strong favourite to win in this class for pre-teens at this maiden meeting for Micro Max is Aqil Alibhai, a nine year-old from Johannesburg, who has competed overseas for much of this year and is used to intense competition. Challenging Aqil will be Joshua de Paiva, who competed in a Micro Max event in Portugal last year. Matthew Morrell and Muhammed Wally have run strongly in South African 60 cc races this year.

Mini Max. This race for 10-13-year-olds has an entry headed up by a remarkable young talent, Kwanda Mokoena. The Jo’burg youngster came within just half a point of winning the Maxterino SA championships for 60 cc karts this year and he will be going all out to erase that by winning a place to race in Italy!

But Kawanda will be up against some strong competition in this new 125 class, which sees drivers dealing with more power than they have had to date in 60 cc racing. Heading this list is Joseph Oelz from Cape Town, a very talented driver, who was a major contender in the 2016 Maxterino series. Equally strong should be Jayden Els, Daniel de Paiva, Jarrod Waberski, Leyton Fourie, Tate Bishop and Liam de Beer.

Senior Max. With the promise of an entry in the DD2 class at the Grand Finals, competition here is going to be intense. Delano Fowler, Fabienne Lanz and Robert Whiting will all be keen to topple new SA champ Dino Stermin, who has also entered the African Open. If Stermin wins on Saturday, he may have to choose between Senior Max and DD2 at the Grand Finals!

Junior Max. While a crowded international entry list prevents a second South African driver from joining SA champ Cameron O’Connor in the Junior Max class in Italy, the winner of this class will get an air ticket to Italy to spectate at the event! The racing in Junior Max in 2016 has been superb and over 20 drivers are set to start in this event on Saturday - the winner could come from a number of entrants. Highly fancied are Dominic Lincoln, Tristan Losch, Daniel Duminy, Karl Pitzer, Jason Coetzee, and of course the new current SA champ, Cameron O’Connor.

DD2 and DD2 Masters. With a crowded motorsport programme, it is still not certain whether Bradley Liebenberg and Michael Stephen will be able to compete in Italy in October, as both of them compete in top category main circuit car classes. Thus there is a huge incentive to do well in the DD2 class at the African Open. Luca Canderle has competed at the Grand Finals before and is a past African Open winner. Other serious contenders here will be Justin Allison, Stuart White, Robert Whiting and possibly Benjamin Habig from KZN , if study commitments allow.

In the DD2 Masters category, Marouan Selmi, Nicholas Verheul, Connor Hughes and Richard Fuller will be flat out to win that seat in the Grand Finals.


Kwanda Mokoena also tops the entry list in the Maxterino class at the African Open. Challenges here are expected to come from Jordan Brooks and Liam de Beer, with two drivers from Mozambique Lagson Leao and Nathan Shana adding spice.  The winner of this class will win an air ticket to watch the Grand Finals in Italy.


Impressive silverware from Kartking is there for the winners of the five to eight year old category. Its always great to see the little guys at work!


The 125 GP will join the Africa Open program for the first time. The winner will take home a Mychron 5 compliments of Formula K and other incentives are there as well.


* Last chance to qualify for a seat at the Rotax World Championship in Italy in October

* New Micro Max and Mini Max classes draw a huge entry, with the winners set to race in Italy!

* Senior karters will compete for four berths in the DD2 and DD2 Masters Gearbox class at the World Championship

* Air tickets or R 10 000 vouchers up for grabs in Maxterino and Junior Max.