Liebenberg thwarts a home-town white-wash in Cape Town

Aiden Strydom - MaxterinoSouth African Rotax Max Challenge Karting Championship Round One, April 25, 2015.

Bradley Liebenberg from Lonehill, Gauteng, won a nail-biting DD2 victory in the first National round of the 2015 South African Rotax Max Challenge in Cape Town on Saturday, April 25.

The schoolboy won two of the three races to emerge as overall victor of the day, once again confirming the form that saw him lead the South African karting team to a Nations Cup world title at the Rotax Grand Finals in Spain last November. But in Cape Town he was pressed every millimetre of the way by Killarney home -track specialist, Jonathan Aberdein.

Liebenberg won Race One and Race Two, while Aberdein took Race three, the final DD2 Gearbox event of the day, which saw a massive entry of 27 karts take the starter’s orders. And the gap between these two all day totalled just on two seconds for all three races, as they traded fastest laps within a few hundredths of a second.

Third went to Mitchell Licen, a KZN driver, followed by Gauteng’s Eugene Britz in fourth, former African Open champion Luca Canderle in fifth and Justin Allison in sixth.

The DD2 Masters category saw multiple World Champion Cristiano Morgado  yet again winning, from Nicholas Verheul, Ronaldo Baptista and Jennifer Verheul. Jennifer who recently returned to active competition in  kart racing, has for a number of years been  the organiser of the incredibly successful Rotax karting series in South Africa.

As for the other categories, it was pretty much a Cape Town display of home-turf domination.

The Junior Max category for drivers aged 13 to 16 saw Dino Stermin win from a tight pack consisting of fellow Cape driver Delano Fowler, with Joshua Dias (Vereeniging), Jason Coetzee (Cape Town), Delon Thompson (Jhb), Sebastian Boyd and Giordano Lupini (Cape Town).

And in the Maxterino class for pre-teen drivers Aiden Strydom from Cape Town was a dominant force, followed home in each of the three races by Cameron O’ Conner (Jhb),  with Charl Visser, JP Hamman( Cape Town)  Kwanda Mokoena (from Gauteng) and Troy Dolinschek (Cape Town) filling out the top six.

Jonathan Aberdein had his revenge in the Senior Max class by winning overall (two race wins and a fifth) from Richard Upton, with Dale Fourie third and Ivan Cetinich fourth.  The very quick woman racer Fabienne Lanz looked to be in contention all weekend to challenge Aberdein but a broken chain early on ruined her chances, although she recovered to a third place in the final heat.

Fabienne is the daughter of past saloon car champion Peter Lanz and running through the entry lists it is interesting to see famous racing names popping up in almost every category. Jonathan Aberdein’s father Chris was a champion saloon car race in the 1990s, taming the mighty IMSA-spec Audi Quattro alongside Sarel van der Merwe, while Eugene Britz’s father Charles was a Nissan mainstay front-runner in the 1980s. Aiden Strydom is the son of champion Top Fuel motorcycle drag racer from the 1980s Wynand Strydom, while Giordano Lupini comes from the famous Lupini racing family which saw his great-grandfather Gigi  sponsor many top drivers in South Africa in the 1960s and also import the first Ferrari to South Africa. And Troy Dolinschek’s grand father Wally successfully raced for the Opel factory saloon car squad in the late 1980s.

The 2015 SA Rotax Max Challenge will be decided over four national championship rounds, the remaining three to be run in Idube in June, Vereeniging Raceway in August and at Pretoria’s Zwartkops Raceway in September. The winners in the four Rotax categories will earn a berth in the 2015 Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal in November, with close to 300 drivers from 60 countries competing.