Rotax Max Nationals thrill Killarney

Stermin took DD2
Cape Town played host to a dramatic opening round South African National Rotax Max Challenge as the country’s karting finest took up arms at Killarney on Saturday. Local drivers Dino Stermin, Simon-Simpson Heath, Joseph Oelz and Reza Levy kept the WP flag flying with DD2, Senior, Junior and Mini Max wins respectively, PE star Michael Stephen did the DD2 Masters and Max 175 double and Jozi kids Troy Snyman took Mini Max and Tshepang Shisinwana Bambino honours.
 
Upcountry visitors Roman de Beer and Brad Liebenberg set the scene for a dramatic premier Rotax DD2 gearbox weekend by beating locals Dino Stermin and Jason Coetzee to pole position before de Beer led Liebenberg away. A mid-race spat however soon saw de Beer and Coetzee exit stage left as Stermin set a new Killarney Kart track lap record to emerge from the pack and take the first race win ahead of KZN driver Benjamin Habig, Liebenberg and local lad Sebastian Boyd.
 
Stermin, Coetzee, Habig and Boyd all took turns at leading a spectacular second heat, but it was Habig who was ahead when it counted, from local lad Jonathan Thomas, Stermin, KZN kid Dominic Lincoln and Boyd after a last lap reshuffle behind Habig. Roman de Beer led the final until passed by Boyd, until he was passed by cousin Stermin, who went on to take the day. Boyd was ultimately another victim of de Beer, who shoved his way to second from Coetzee, Habig, Thomas, who broke Stermin’s lap record, and the dejected Boyd.
 
So Dino Stermin took the day from Habig, Thomas, Boyd and Lincoln, while the consistent Brandon Smith kept out of trouble to nab sixth for the day ahead of Coetzee and the robust Roman de Beer, as Justin Allison and Robert Whiting closed off the top ten. Carlo Olivier was next up ahead of the troubled Liebenberg, Jamie Smith and Nicholas Verheul, who had a DD2 day to forget, Sharad Bantho and Anton Pommersheim.
 
Stephen leads Masters
 
Over-32 DD2 Masters, which raced on its own for the first time at the Killarney national, was all about master driver Michael Stephen, who scored an easy pole position before trotting off to win the first race. Jonathan Pieterse broke the lap record in pursuit before leading race 2 until overcome by Stephen. Conor Hughes, who ended third in the opening heats, made Stephen work hard enough to break the lap record as he fought Hughes and Brett Brito off in the final.
 
So PE superstar Stephen won the day with a clean sweep overall ahead of Hughes, a delighted Ernst Viljoen, Pieterse, Brito and Marco Viegas. Alistair Mingay, Andre Steenkamp, Justin Walton and James Moore closed off the top ten ahead of Robert Peche and Roy Gruer.
 
Senior Max Spectacular
 
A dramatic day of Senior Max racing saw three local winners in three races as pole man Charl Visser fought Kai van Zijl and Storm Lanfear off for the first race win. Formula 1600 race winner Andrew Rackstraw then bounced back to beat Visser and Simon Simpson-Heath to second race honours, before Simpson-Heath passed Visser early on and cleared off to take the final ahead of a fraught dice for second resolved in van Zijl’s favour over Rackstraw.
 
Overall, Simpson-Heath took the day by a point over van Zijl, with Visser another point adrift in third and Rackstraw fourth to set up a tight Senior championship tussle between those four Cape drivers. Luca Canderle was fifth ahead of Wayland Wyman, Lanfear, Reece Oellerman, Connor Donovan and Riley Horner in tenth, while Jurgen Pommersheim, Dane van Heerde, Andrew Thomas, Taiibi Tucci, Michael Jordan and Shrien Naidoo filled the minor placings.
 
Max 175 entertained
 
The new Rotax Max 175 class for heavier and older drivers was another to entertain as it delivered three winners in three races. Jonathan Pieterse set a new lap record en route to race 1 honours, while Nicholas Verheul took the third race win but it was second race winner Michael Stephen who emerged victorious to deliver a DD2 Masters and Max 175 double. Pieterse and Verheul ended second and third overall ahead of Erwin Sterne, Jared Jordan and Geoff Stephen.
 
Junior Max at its best
 
The schoolboy classes delivered great racing too, as under-15 Junior Max also saw three different drivers winning the three races, but it was second race winner Joseph Oelz who was the most consistent as the local star ultimately took a comfortable overall victory over Jozi visitor and explosive opening heat winner Aqil Alibhai. 
 
Another local lad, Tate Bishop was third from Ethan Coetzee and a dramatic final heat winner Troy Dolinschek, with Storm Lanfear sixth for the day ahead of the troubled Kwanda Mokoena and Ndumiso Bungane. Jordan Brooks, Tristan Galp, Kyle Visser and Lorenzo Cianfanelli all endured tough days at the races.
 
Snyman owned Mini
 
Under-13 Mini Max was by comparison calm — Jozi lad Troy Snyman broke the lap record as he trotted to a trio of wins over compatriot Muhammed Wally and local Jason MacBeath each time, but Snyman had to fight for a dramatic third win. Matthew Morrell was fourth overall from Mikhail Fernandez, Ethan Stier, Paul Malcolm, Taya van der Laan, Giullo Cianfanelli and Ghazi Motlekar in tenth, while Bjorn Bertholdt, Mischa Williams and Mandla Mlangeni endured tough weekends.
 
Levy was Micro king
 
Cape kid Reza Levy made under-11 Micro Max his own with pole position and three race wins to leave the drama behind him and open up a sizeable early championship lead. Levy’s local rival Reese Koorzen and Jozi visitors Mohammed Moerat and Luviwe Sambudla shared out the second places to end second, third and fourth overall respectively ahead of Dhivyen Naidoo and Wian Boshoff.
 
Erich Heystek was next up ahead of Ethan Deacon, Kyle Beukes and Caleb Cotterell in tenth, Travis Mingay, and Enzo Rujugiro. Kent Swartz lost second in race 2 and his new lap record after his kart as well as those of Joshua Smit, Anesu Maphumulo and Julian Booysen failed a race 2 technical check.
 
Baby Bambino action
 
Tshepang Shisinwana beat Luan Mostert and Caleb Odendaal to a close first baby Bambino race win on the full track, rather than the usual shortened cadet loop, after local pole man Rayan Karriem faded after setting a new lap record in the opening race. Shisinwana then overcame Karriem and Mostert to take race 2 with impressive rookie Jordon Wadeley fourth, before Karriem best overcame a fraught midrace tussle to lead Shisinwana, Odendaal and Mostert home in the final.
 
So Jozi kid Shisinwana took the day overall over local lads Karriem and Mostert with upcountry visitor Odendaal fourth from Wadeley, Josh Moore, Rhoderick Simpson, Christian Verhuel, Troy van der Laan and Jack Moore closing off the top ten ahead of Rebecca Wadeley and the troubled Kai van Rensburg.
 
The second round of the Rotax Max Nationals goes down at the Celso Scribante Kart Circuit in Port Elizabeth overt he weekend of 21 April.