• Huge entry expected for SA National championship-decider, with all six South African karting titles still up for grabs in the Rotax Max Challenge series, as well as in the junior-school Maxterino class.
  • Some of the closest racing ever seen in South Africa has been a season-long highlight of the Rotax kart series throughout 2017. More of the same is expected at the season-decider on September 24.
  • Winners of the six Rotax 125 cc classes get guaranteed entries into the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal on November 4-11.

The 2017 South African Rotax Max Challenge Karting Championship will be decided at the superb Zwartkops Kart Raceway on Sunday, September 24. And with automatic entries into the prestigious Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal in November for each winner of the six South African Rotax kart categories, the competition at Zwartkops will reach fever pitch, with all of these championships only being decided over the final four races scheduled for each class.

A feature of this year’s Rotax South African National Championship racing has been that drivers aged from seven years old to 32-years-old and more have all been using the basic 125 cc water-cooled Rotax engine, but with carefully ratified power upgrades for each class progression. The beauty of this system is that a young driver entering the Micro Max class could, effectively keep his engine throughout his karting career as he graduates to the Senior categories in later seasons.

The South African National Karting Championships, 2017

With competition so tight this season, no driver in any of the categories will arrive at Zwartkops on September 24 as an assured title holder. However, the driver who looks most likely to succeed at this stage is current champion Bradley Liebenberg in DD2 Gearbox, the fastest National karting class in South Africa. Bradley, who is making a big name for himself as a main-circuit driver in the GTC 2 class, has come oh-so-close to winning the Rotax Grand Finals on previous occasions, and he is desperate to make good this year.

His lead in the SA 2017 championship going into the final round has grown, following the “sabbatical” that Leeroy Poulter has been forced to take for health reasons. Poulter recently pulled out out of all competitive motorsport until at least the end of the year, on doctor’s orders. Thus Brad’s closest competitor is Port Elizabeth’s Michael Stephen, and a win in just one of the four races could effectively seal things for the Lonehill youngster. DD2Small

Challenging these two for the win will be Cape Town’s excellent young driver Jurie Swart, while Ivana Cetinich could also run in the lead pack, as one of the most improved drivers this season. Never discount KZN’s Benjamin Habig or Bloemfontein’s Justin Allison. And lady ace Fabienne Lanz has proven surprisingly quick on occasion this season. At the recent African Open meeting the top 10 drivers qualified with a few 10ths of a second of each other, and nail-biting finishes were the order of the day. With so much at stake on September 24, expect a huge dogfight up front of a field that is likely to top as many as 25 karts!

The rules of the Rotax Max Challenge DD2 category in South Africa see drivers aged 15 and over competing in this ultra-fast two-speed gearbox class. However, the field also includes drivers aged 32-years-old and older, and these drivers score points in DD2, as well as in this DD2 Masters Class. Thus we have the position where veteran Michael Stephen has a chance of winning both the DD2 and the DD2 Masters Class. Stephen, who came close to winning at the Grand Finals in 2015, has a reasonable lead over Jonathan Pieterse in this category for drivers 32 and over, while Pascal Acquaah and Marouan Selmi have had some great drives this year.

In the Senior Max category (drivers aged 14 and older) Cape Town’s Luke Herring, a former Rotax champion, is locked in a tight tussle for championship honours with Gauteng’s Cameron O’Connor, while Jason Coetzee, another Cape Town ace, is also in there with a great chance to win the title. These three drivers are separated by just a handful of points going into the final race meeting. However, other strong contenders who could well upset the applecart (kart?) include Daniel Duminy, the KZN-based racer who has been doing all his racing in Gauteng this season, and the ever-improving Shannon Jackson.

JunSmallSebastian Boyd, Jason Coetzee and Charl Visser are three more Cape drivers who are also locked in a tussle for supremacy in Junior Max, the category for drivers aged 12-15-years-old. KZN’s Dominic Lincoln is also within a shout of the title, should any of these drivers strike serious trouble at Zwartkops. Young lady driver Cameron Dias, in her first season in Junior Max, has been particularly impressive, as has Jayden Els, our East Rand youngster who took a World Title for South Africa in Mini Max at last year’s Grand Finals, and is doing brilliantly in this much more powerful class this season. 

Mini Max has seen a very dominant performance this season from Alberton driver Leyton Fourie, who looks almost certain to take the inaugural title in this new class for drivers aged 10-13. Kai van Zyl from Cape Town, Daniel de Paiva from Gauteng and Tate Bishop from Cape Town will be keeping the pressure on. Bishop from the Cape, Aqil Alibhai and Jarrod Waberski from Gauteng and Sibo Solomon (Western Provence) have all had very strong seasons in 2017

In the Micro Max category for drivers aged 7-10 (a new, very popular class for 2017), Gauteng youngsters Muhammad Wally and Joshua de Paiva are locked in a tight tussle for title honours, with Wally just having the edge. Out to spoil the party for these two on September 23 will be Cape Town’s Valentino Hoffman and Reza Levy, as will Gauteng’s Muhammed Moerat.

In the 60cc Maxterino class for pre-high-school drivers (the winner here will get a spectating ticket at the Grand Finals), Aqil Alibhai, Tate Bishop, Jordan Brooks and Troy Dolinschek have been racing nose to tail all season and all are in contention for 2017 honours.  

*Champions in all these categories will get a free entry to the Grand Finals in Portugal, with Rotax’s incredible offer of providing brand-new racing equipment to each and every driver free of charge! The prize also includes tyres, tools, fuel and a kart stand. No other race series in the world does this! This policy has seen the Rotax Max Challenge become the most successful karting series on the planet since the year 2000, and in November champion drivers from some 60 countries from all over the world will fight for world championship titles!