ROTAX AFRICAN OPEN KARTING MEET THRILLS FROM START TO FINISH

Grand Final Invitation winners - Luke Herring, Bradley Liebenberg, Joshua Coerze and Marouan Selmi - Pic by Werner VietAny doubt that the Rotax karting series provides the most competitive motor racing in the country was dispelled at the 2017 African Open race meeting held at the Zwartkops kart Raceway on Sunday, August 20.

With the prospect of entries into the prestigious Rotax Grand Finals world championship meeting in November up for grabs , the event drew a huge entry across all classes, comprising the majority of the current series contenders with a few surprise appearances.

DD2 and DD2 Masters

Bradley Liebenberg won the hotly contested DD2 class pic by Werner VietNotable amongst these surprise showings  was in the DD2 Gearbox class, the fastest karting class in the country. Roman de Beer, a former karter who has had great success in single seaters overseas and in big-banger historic sports cars locally,  was deputising for Leeroy Poulter, who has had to withdraw from competitive motorsport for the rest of the season, due to health reasons. And former Rotax champion Eugene Brittz was back for a one-off drive with the intention of ending the current domination of Bradley Liebenberg.

These three drivers, along with Cape Town’s Jurie Swart, made the 20-lap DD2 final a race to remember. And right in there was Justin Allison.  De Beer led the race for the first couple of laps, but had to withdraw after 10 laps as his kart’s side-pod came loose and he was black-flagged for safety reasons.

Marouan Selmi and Jonathan Pieterse were the two favourites for the Masters crown pic by Werner VietAnother driver to suffer bad luck was Fabienne Lanz, who  was very quick all weekend but fell foul of an early race tangle in the Final.  In the last few laps of the 20-lapper final it looked like KZN’s Benjamin Habig would catch the leading pack in a mega-charge through the field, while another driver to impress, after starting way back, was Ivana Cetinich.
In the end, Bradley Liebenberg won by a mere 0.087 seconds from Eugene Brittz! And just three tenths of a second back was Jurie Swart, with Bloemfontein’s Justin Allison finishing in fourth and only 0,69 seconds behind the winner. The top four were thus separated by less than seven-tenths of a second!

There were two amazing performances  from the drivers competing in the same race in the DD2 Master’s category. Tunisian Marouan Selmi took fifth overall and first in DD2 Masters, ahead of his long-time Masters rival Jonathan Pieterse. Third in the Masters category was  Mozambique’s Connor Hughes.

Brad Liebenberg and Marouan Selmi, thus each win entries into the Grand Finals in Portugal.

Senior Max

Luke Herring took home the Senior Max victory pic by Werner VietLuke Herring has been a title favourite for the Senior Max Challenge category all season in the four-round National Championship Rotax series. The Cape Town driver  had plenty of pressure at the African Open, but managed to win the two pre-finals, as well as the 20-lap final. Herring finished just 1,1 seconds ahead of second-place man Jason Coetzee, with the increasingly competitive Daniel Duminy a close third. A very impressive fourth was young Capetonian Andrew Rackstraw, having his first season in this senior category, ahead of Michael Buchholz and Oliver Gunner.

Due to the huge number of international entries for the Senior Max category at the Grand Finals, it was stipulated that the Senior Max winner of the African Open would gain an entry into the DD2 category at the world championship, which is less heavily subscribed (some 60 countries take part in this huge event). Herring now has to make the decision of whether  to compete in the DD2 class in Portugal in November, a prize he has already won, or back himself to win the South African Senior Max championship in the fourth and final round at Zwartkops in late September. This would see him win the entry to the Senior Max class, as the South African champion. Rotax rules dictate that he has to make the decision before the final round, and that he cannot compete in both classes. So a tough call  has to be made by Herring!

Junior Max

Junior Max new kid on the block Joshua Coerze won the final pic by Werner VietJoshua Coertze, a young karter from Port Elizabeth, a former 60 cc champ who currently competes in Europe,  upset the apple cart in the Junior Max category by beating the current championship series hotshots in the African open. It was his first outing in the Junior Max category! All the current favourites were tussling for the win which also carries the prize of an entry into the Grand Finals, but Coertze held on to beat Cape Town’s Sebastian Boyd by just 0,58 seconds in an amazingly close tussle for the win. Just 1,2 seconds behind the leader was KZN’s Dominic Lincoln, ahead of Jason Coertzee, Jayden Els and Tiffany Napier.  Less than five seconds covered the top six after 20 lap of hard racing which saw 17 starters in the final.

Mini Max

Leyton Fourie had a good weekend pic by Werner VietLeyton Fourie from Alberton has been dominant in the new Mini Max class (for drivers 10-13)  all season, and he duly won this class at the African Open. But his win was far from straightforward and he had Aqil Alibhai and Kai van Zyl both finish within half a second of his winning time after 12 laps. Daniel de Paiva was a fine fourth a few seconds down the road, ahead of Jarrod Waberski in fifth and Mathew Morrell in sixth. The winner of this class won tickets for himself and one parent to spectate a the Grand Finals in November, on the Algarve coast in Portugal.

Micro Max

Reese Koorzen won the ultra competitive Micro Max class pic by Werner VietThis class for drivers aged 7-10 years-old,  produced the closest finish of the day, on a race day when close finishes were becoming somewhat expected! There were a bunch of six drivers who could all win it, dicing flat out for the 12 laps, passing and re-passing. Young Reese Koorzen, who is only seven years old and has only recently  graduated from the tiddler 50 cc Cadet class, took it on the last lap, to finish 0,141 seconds ahead of second-placed Muhammad Wally, and just 0,37 seconds ahead of third-placed Reza Levy! Fourth was Mandla Mlangeni, ahead of Joshua de Paiva.  These two in fact fought for the lead for most of the race until tangling in the last corner. The pair finished just  1,3 seconds behind the leading trio. Sixth was relative newcomer Kent Swartz.

Young Reese Koorzen also wins an air ticket for himself and one parent, to spectate at the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal.

Cadet

Close Cadet racing pic by Wener VietThe under-8 Cadet race on the day provided great entertainment, won by Luke Hill from Tshepang Shisinwana, Rayn Asmal, Adam Kajee, Cape visitor Luan Mostert and Mohammed Moerat.

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