ROTAX African Open karts thrill Vereeniging

Seven South African kart racers took home grand prizes from the Rotax Max African Open after winning the finals of the wildcard winner-takes-all showpiece at the Vereeniging Kart Track on Sunday. Bradley Liebenberg, Eugene Brittz, Wayland Wyman and Aqil Alibhai each earned a berth in the SA team set to race the Rotax Max World Finals in Italy in October, while Muhammad Wally, Reza Levy and Caleb Odendaal won tickets to go watch the Grand Finals. The winner of the lucky draw for all competitors entered for a new Rotax Junior Max engine was Junior Max racer Ethan Coetzee.

An annual event open to karters from across Africa, the Open saw qualifying on Saturday before two heats on Sunday leading up to the final, making it important for drivers to stay close to the front throughout in order to get a good grid position for the deciding final. A wild shootout second-to-none, the Open delivered action and then some as always. 

DD2

 

Nick Verheul took the DD2 gearbox class pole position from Brandon Smith and Justin Allison, but 4-time champion Bradley Liebenberg was up to speed to beat Allison and Smith to the opening race and Habig and Smith in Race 2. Liebenberg then sped off to a 3.8 second lights-to-flag win over Habig and Smith to book his Grand Final berth ahead of Jason Coetzee, Allison and Whiting.

DD2 Masters 

 

Eugene Brittz took the old man’s DD2 Masters pole position ahead of Jonathan Pieterse and Pascal Acquaah before Pieterse put one over Brittz and Acquaah in Race 1 and repeated the favour in race 2. But it was Brittz who saved the best for last as he made off to a comfortable final win to become the African Open Champion for 2019. Pieterse claimed the Grand Final seat over Brittz as he is not old enough to race in the Masters category internationally. Erwin Sterne, Ernst Viljoen, Alistair Mingay and Tinahe Ncube all put on a good show.

Senior Max

 

A busy and competitive Senior Max saw local lad Wayland Wyman put it on pole from Jayden Els and Simon Simpson-Heath, before UAE driver Liam Crystal took race 1 from Fabienne Lanz and Kwanda Mokoena, but Wyman was back on top to win race 2 from Jason Coetzee and Shrien Naidoo. Crystal then led the final until Wayman took over following a wild opening three laps as Coetzee fought back to second ahead of Naidoo, Crystal, Els and Lanz as Wayman ultimately took an easy win to earn the ticket to the Grand Finals

Junior Max

 

Jozi kid Aqil Alibhai took the under-15 Junior Max pole from wildcard Leyton Fourie and Ethan Coetzee before Alibhai beat Coetzee and Fourie to the race 1 win, but Fourie took race 2 from Tate Bishop, Coetzee and Alibhai to set up a stunning final. But it was Alibhai who bounced back to make his move on Fourie on lap 2 and soak up the pressure to take the win and the ticket by just 0.08 seconds from Fourie, with Bishop and Coetzee within half a second and Jordan Brooks and Guilherme Rocha close behind.

Mini Max

 

Another Johannesburg driver Muhammad Wally took the under-13 Mini Max pole position from Michele Patrizi and Mika Abrahams, before Wally beat Matthew Morrell and Abrahams to the opening race win and then defeated Morrell and Mandla Mlangeni in race 2. Wally cleared off to win the final and claim the prize ticket in dominant form by six seconds over Patrizi, who passed Abrahams early on for second, with the squabbling Ethan Stier, Godfrey Malumane and Giulio Cianfanelli next up.

Micro Max

 

Under-11 Micro Max was as hard fought as ever as Cape kid Reza Levy beat Dhivyen Naidoo and Travis Mingay to pole position before Naidoo took the opening race from Mohammed Moerat and Levy, but Levy bounced back to beat Luviwe Sambudla and Kent Swartz in race 2. Levy then made no mistake in the final, making off to leave the rest in his wake and grab the win and the prize ahead of Naidoo, Joshua Smit, Sambudla, Wian Boshoff and Mingay.

Bambino Action

 

Caleb Odendaal took baby Bambino pole position over Keagan Beaumont and Tsepang Shisinwana, before Odendaal led Shisinwana and Rhoderick Simpson in the opening race and then beat Shisinwana and Rayan Karriem to the second race win. Odendaal initially led the final but Shisinwana moved ahead early on and led his battling pursuers through to a penultimate lap shake-up that saw Odendaal grab the win and the prize from rookie Wadeley, Karriem, Simpson, Keegan Beaumont, Kai van Rensburg and Shisinwana.

With the African Open tickets now safely in Liebenberg, Brittz, Wyman, Alibhai. Wally, Levy and Odendaal’s pockets, the race is on to see who joins them at the international Rotax Max Grand Finals by winning the respective Rotax Max Challenge South African Championships.