THE AFRICAN OPEN - KARTING’S WILD ONE

Senior MaxRotax Max World Final seats beckon at Zwartkops’ winners-take-all African Open

African karting has an annual highlight in the Rotax Max African Open when the continent’s best kart drivers gather for a wild day’s racing at the Zwartkops International Kart Raceway Sunday 11 October.

A winner-takes-all kartfest, the African Open offers each of its four race winners a seat to represent South Africa at the Rotax Max World Finals in Portimao, Portugal in November alongside berths already booked there for the various South African Rotax Max champions.

There may be three races per class and each class may be hotly contested, but only the winner of the last race of the day per class will count and rest assured, some people will go to great lengths to wrest that special prize of a world final seat. There have been some dramatic finales and different tactics employed over the African Open years, but one thing is for certain, this meeting always makes for among the best kart racing of the year.

So who will join SA’s 2015 Rotax Max karting champions Jonathan Aberdein, Dino Stermin, Bradley Liebenberg, Ronaldo Baptista, Cristiano Morgado and Cameron O’Connor in Portimao?

There’s no pressure on Cape Town lad Stermin (Designer Trims Kosmic) as he has already booked his World Finals ticket by securing the high school age Junior Max 125cc SA championship, but there are several others who will fight over that vacant Portimao Junior Max seat at Zwartkops on Sunday. They include the fellow Stermin beat to the title — Benoni driver Delon Thompson (Birel); Cape lads Delano Fowler (Suprocom TonyKart), Jason Coetzee (RKT Kosmic), Sebastian Boyd, (Boyd Freight Kosmic) and Dario Busi (Automan TonyKart); Gauteng Birel trio Joshua Diaz, Cameron O’Connor and Blaine Rademeyer; Durban kids Daniel Duminy (Birel) and Dominic Lincoln (TonyKart); Mozambican TonyKart drivers Karl and Naomi Pitzer and Adriaan Nel from Namibia.

SA Max Challenge 125cc champion Jonathan Aberdein (TonyKart) from Cape Towns  ticket is already booked to Portimao. His rivals will quite literally be falling over each other for that African Open ticket. Durbanites Luca Canderle (Intrepid), Jordan Sherratt (Birel), Richard Upton (CRG) and Robert Whiting (TonyKart) and Gauteng ladies Fabienne Lanz (Formula K) Ivana Cetinich (Birel) and Shannon Jackson (CRG) are all in with a shout.

Double SA DD2 gearbox champion Bradley Liebenberg (Birel) from Lonehill has also booked his ticket to that World Final, so he will be able to keep tabs on which of several drivers will emerge to join him in Portugal. Several men are capable of pulling it off, including Vereeniging racer Arnold Neveling (RKT Kosmic), Durban’s Benjamin Habig (TonyKart), Chad Maciver, Michael Buchholz, Mitchell Licen, Eugene Brittz, Justin Allison and Mozambiquan driver Cristian Bouché.

Ronnie Baptista (Birel) from Potchefstroom is the fourth driver already heading to Portimao courtesy of his DD2 Masters title for drivers older then 32 years old driving heavier DD2 karts, but that second seat remains open with John Van Wyk, Nick and Jennifer Verheul, Mozambiquan Conor Hughes and Angolan driver Danilson Texeira among those chasing the other SA DD2 Masters World Final team slot.

There’s another ticket in the offing, but the primary school Maxterino 60cc African Open winner will join SA champion Cameron O’Connor (Topkart) in watching the races in Portugal. Jozi kids Kwanda Mokoena (FA), Jarrod Waberski (Top Kart), Cameron Dias (Top Kart), Durban’s Tristan Losch (Flandria) and Mozambican pair Lagson Leao and Rodrigo Almeida are among several looking to grab that ticket.

As noted, the African Open also attracts entries from all over Africa, with drivers expected from as far afield as Angola, Mozambique and Namibia making for a truly international atmosphere. The African Open program includes club races for baby Cadet 50cc and old school Clubmans, with most drivers likely to compete in Saturday’s Northern Regions Championship Finals in preparation for the big day on Sunday, when all eyes will be fixed on those all important tickets to race in Portugal.

If the past few years’ action is anything to go by, you can rest assured of simply the best karting action at the 2015 Rotax African Open, which begins with practice and qualifying from 8am; the first of two pre-finals getting under way at 11h40 and the winner-take-all finals commencing 15h25 Sunday 11 October. Find Zwartkops International Kart Raceway on the R55 Quagga Road near Laudium in Pretoria West.

PIC: African Open promises wild kart action — image Werner Viet