ROTAX GRAND FINALS 2016: MEET TEAM SOUTH AFRICA

De PaivaSMALLJoshua de Paiva, Micro Max Category, ages 7-10:

Joshua de Paiva is just nine years old, but has been competing in karting since the age of four! He won the Micro Max category in the 2016 African Open meeting at Zwartkops, and he is currently lying second in the regional Maxterino series for drivers aged 8-13. Last year he represented Portugal (he has dual citizenship) in a non-championship Micro Max race at the Grand Finals, so he has international experience too. Apart from karting he swims for his school’s team – he attends St Peters School in Gauteng and is in Grade Three – and runs cross country.


Josh says: “I’m looking forward to the 2016 Grand Final because Rotax makes me feel like a Formula One driver, or a famous rock star. I feel special and proud to represent my country, AND I even get my own personal umbrella girl!”

 

Jayden Els, Mini Max Category, ages 9-12:

ElsSMALL

Jayden Els is 12-years-old and hails from Boksburg, Gauteng. He has been karting since the age of seven and he secured his place in this year’s Grand Final’s by winning the Mini Max class at the 2016 African Open meeting at Zwartkops. Past karting successes include second place in the Cadet karting championship in 2012, a third place in the SA Mini Rok class in 2015 and 15th place in the World Rok Finals in Italy in 2015. Jayden plays rugby for his school, and also enjoys golf, tennis and chess. He attends the Laerskool Baanbreker in Boksburg, where he is an Academic Achiever.
“I am looking forward to the 2016 Rotax Grand Finals because I’ve worked hard for this and I’m in it to win it!” says Jayden.

 

OConnorSMALLCameron O’Connor, Junior Max Category, ages 13-16:

Cameron O’Connor is 14-years-old and is the 2016 South African Junior Max Champion. He has been karting for just four years, and in that time has also won the 2014 Mini Rok Gauteng regional championship and the 2015 South African Maxterino Championship. He attends the Real Me private school in Edenvale, where he is in Grade 8, and his other interests include tennis, squash and going to gym. “I am proud to be representing South Africa,” says Cameron “and racing against the best karters in the world. I’m looking forward to a bright future in racing!”

Delon Thompson, Senior Max Challenge Category:ThompsonSMALL

Delon Thompson is 16-years-old and hails from Farramere, Benoni. He started karting at the age of 11, and his progression in the sport has been a steep upwards curve. Initially competing in the Rok categories, where he won regional titles and earned a Junior Driver of the Year award, he moved to the Rotax series in 2015 and continued to build on his success. In 2015 he was second in the Junior Max National category and won the Northern Regions championship, and was also the Victor Ludorum in Northern Regions.
Things went even more spectacularly in 2016, as he won the 2016 Senior Max Challenge title, and also tested successfully for the Van der Linder racing team to compete in Polo Cup on main circuits next year.
Delon plays soccer, squash and does mountain biking when not driving fast, and attends St Dunstan’s College, where he is a Grade 10 student and a Top ten student in Academics.
“I have worked extremely hard in my karting career to achieve this goal, to compete in the Grand Finals, and I am looking forward to competing against the best in the world”, said Delon.

DiasSMALLJoshua Dias, Senior Max Challenge Category:

Joshua Dias is 15-years-old and has been karting since 2012. During that time he has notched a number of successes, including currently lying in second place in the Northern Regions Senior Max Challenge Championships in 2016. He also finished fifth in this year’s SARMC Senior Max National Championship.
In 2015, Josh was third in the Junior Max Nationals, whilst he has scored numerous successes in various other karting categories. A Grade 9 scholar at Henley High – the family lives in Vereeniging – Josh says that his seat in the Grand Finals was totally unexpected. “My entry came at the last minute, so I am just going to enjoy this awesome opportunity!”

Luca Munaretto, DD2 Category:MunarettoSMALL

Luca Munaretto is just 14 years-old and has been competing in karting seriously for the past four years. This year he was advised by his mentor, Wesleigh Orr, a past Rotax world champion, to enter the highly competitive DD2 class despite his young age. It paid off, as he finished second in the African Open DD2 class to earn his place in this year’s Grand Finals in Italy.
Luca has competed in the Junior Max Winter Cup in Valencia, Spain, where he finished 13th, so international competition will be nothing new to him, come the 2016 Grand Finals. When not karting, he enjoys mountain biking, and plays hockey, tennis, and swims for his school team at CBC Boksburg.
“I’m looking forward to the Rotax Grand Finals because this event is known to be very fair in terms of equipment, so it comes down to driver ability”, says Luca.

AllisonSMALLJustin Allison, DD2 Category:

Justin Allison is something a veteran in karting, having started way back in 2001. He has been racing in the Rotax Max series since 2005, and in 2007 in his first full season in the Rotax DD2 series he finished third in the South African Championship. The following year he came second in both championships! He also competed internationally at the Rotax Euro Challenge in 2009 and in the first round in Spain came an impressive fifth! In 2015 he won the Northern Regions DD2 Championship in South Africa.
Apart from karting he is ‘heavily involved’ in cricket and an avid PC gamer. He lives in Bloemfontein where he works in the family business manufacturing electrical control panels and custom-built stand-by gensets.
“ Regarding the 2016 Grand Finals, I feel like this opportunity has come about seven years later than I would have liked, but I intend to take it with both hands,” says Justin.

Fabienne Lanz, DD2 Category:LanzSMALL

Fabienne grew up in a motorsport family, her father Peter being a former SA saloon car champion, so she has been around racing her whole life. She has raced cars as well as karts, and has been quick in everything with wheels on it. She is currently leading the 2016 Northern Regions Senior Max championship, and was runner-up in the 2012 African Open. She has been three times runner up in the South African National Max Challenge Championship.
Fabienne also has extensive overseas racing experience which will stand her in good stead in Italy, although she has never raced at the Sarno track. Amongst international successes she was the first women to step onto the podium (5th place) at the 2007 World Rok Finals, and has also won in the UAE Senior Max category.
Karting is Fabienne’s life and she currently runs a team of 25 young karters just starting out in the sport. “Growing the sport is the aim” she says. When not karting, she loves being in nature, and also competes in the Jeep Warrior Race each year. As for Italy: “Going into these Grand Finals is exciting and a bit nerve-tingling, as I have never been to Sarno and there are only five sessions to get in the groove. But at the same time, I am at my best under pressure!”

CetinichSMALLIvana Cetinich, DD2 Category:

Ivana Cetinich is a 20-year-old B-Com Law student at the University of Pretoria. She started karting at the age of 15 in the Junior Max category at both regional and national level, in 2012. In 2014 she moved up to the DD2 class, while in 2015 she moved to the Senior Max Challenge class and finished second in the northern Regions championship and sixth in the Nationals. She also competed in an all-ladies team in the SWS four-stroke enduro championship in Dubai in this year.
In 2016 she competed in the first round of the Florida Winter Tour in the US in January. This year continued to be good for Ivana as she finished second in the 2016 Africa Open, thus qualifying for the Grand Finals in Italy. She enjoys training regularly at the gym, when not racing, and spending time with her friends.
“I am looking forward to the Grand Finals because it will be a memorable event, a great learning experience. And I’m especially looking forward to Italian food!”

Eugene Brittz, DD2 Catgeory:BrittzSMALL

Eugene Brittz is another karter who comes from a motor-sporting background, his father Charles having been a successful Nissan saloon car ace back in the 1980s. Eugene himself has had a long and illustrious career in karting, a highlight being the 2011 season when he was the South African DD2 Champion. He qualified an impressive second that year at the Grand Finals, but unfortunately was eliminated in a crash.
From 2012 to 2015 he racked up an impressive string of second and third places in the South African DD2 Championship, and in 2014 he finished fourth in the Rotax Pan Am Championship in the USA. He was fourth again in the 2015 US Open Championship in Las Vegas, which won him his “seat” in this year’s Grand Finals.
“I had decided to take a break in 2016 from racing and then came the news I had a slot in the Grand Finals. So I had to lose 12 kg in 40 days! In the last few weeks I’ve been doing as many laps as possible. I’m looking forward to this Grand Final more than any other and I’m hoping all the hard work will pay off!”

PieterseSMALLJonathan Pieterse, DD2 Masters Category:

Jonathan Pieterse has a karting career that started some 23 years ago. He began racing at the age of 11 and won numerous important South African races as a youngster, including what was then known as the Natal (KZN) Championship. However, Jonathan took a 10-year break from karting, while he established his own automotive repair business in Pinetown, KZN, called Vertex Auto.
He then returned to karting to participate in the 2003 Grand Finals as part of the South African team in Egypt. “That was the highlight of my career, as well as being chosen to represent South Africa now in Italy in 2016, in the Masters category” says Jonathan.
Married with two children, Jonathan’s other interests are mountain biking and BMX, and he plays golf off an impressive 9 handicap. “I’m really looking forward to competing at the highest level of karting competition in the world, in Italy. Participating in 2003 Grand Finals in Egypt after a 10 year break from karting, and in the 2016 Grand Finals are my best achievements. What I look forward to the most at World Finals this year is that I get to compete at the highest level there is, after so many years.”

Nick Verheul, DD2 Masters Category:VerheulSMALL

Nick Verheul is a veteran karter, having started in the sport way back in 2004. He competed in Senior Max Challenge for four years, before moving to the DD2 gearbox class, where he has competed ever since. His best result to date has been his win in the 2016 Africa Open DD2 Masters class, which won him his seat in this year’s Grand Finals. However, he has qualified for the Grand Finals on three occasions, competing in Portugal in DD2.
In 2012 he was second in the National DD2 class Nationals, and also second in the 2013 Africa Open. He has also finished runner-up in DD2 Masters in this year’s SA Championships, and second in the 2015 Africa Open Masters category.
Married to Jennifer, daughter of Rotax importer Ed Murray, the couple have a young son, Cristian. Nick enjoys golf, cricket, watersports, friends, family and fun. “I met my wife at the race track and she has an even better racing career history than I do!” Nick is the owner of a printed circuit board manufacturing company, and lives in Edenvale, Gauteng.
“My goal this year is to finish in the Top 10. I would love to win the Final, like so many SA drivers have done in the past!”

FullerSMALLRichard Fuller, DD2 Masters Category:

Richard Fuller is a surprise entry into the 2016 Grand Finals in Italy, with only a few DD2 races under his belt. He finished second in the Rotax African Open scoring his seat to the Grand Final. He is no stranger to karting’, however, having raced competitively in 100 cc air-cooled classes 20 years ago.
When his eight-year-old son Reece decided to start karting, a few seasons back, Richard reckoned it was time to start karting again, and this year he is odds-on favourite to win the South African GP125 class.
“It was a great opportunity for me at the Africa Open, as I was offered a kart to race, and I took it with both hands. I loved the DD2 class, so much so that I will be entering the DD2 Nationals here next year. But for now I want to do my best in Italy for South Africa.”
When not karting Richard runs a motor dealership in Fourways, and spends quality time with his son, Reece, and two daughters.