2020 WPMC KARTING ROUND 1 | THE RACE REPORT

 Killarney brought the heat. Literally.

Sweltering conditions and strong winds ensured that karters were physically and mentally challenged throughout the day. Kart setup is tricky in extreme conditions, especially as grip changes over the course of the day. With busy grids and the heat really testing the stamina of the racers, there was plenty of drama to keep the spectators entertained.

The grandstand was the busiest we’ve seen in years, providing a clear indication of growth in the sport in Cape Town. 

Some competitors left Killarney with a trophy in the bag and a great start to the 2020 Championship, whilst others left with bruised bodies and karts and a lot of head-scratching to do.

That’s how motorsport works.

Bambino (5th – 9th birthday)

We called it. Kai van Rensburg (Top Kart) was unstoppable. 

He put his little racing machine on pole with an emphatic display, seven tenths quicker than next fastest Aidan Beaumont (Top Kart). John Norman (Body Elite Top Kart) gave his family something to cheer about early in the day with a P3 in qualifying.

Van Rensburg romped to an easy win on the day, sweeping away the competition with three wins by substantial margins. His competitors have much work to do to catch the youngster.

Beaumont and Norman were faced with far more of a challenge, fending off the likes of Sebastiano Human (Top Kart) who had an impressive debut. Matthew Smit (Top Kart) and Siyabonga Ntuli (Top Kart) also kept them honest with strong races.

Individual highlights on the day must include Rebecca Wadeley (Top Kart) achieving P6 in Race 1 and Norman recovering brilliantly in Race 3 to finish P4 after dropping way back to P10 early in the race.

Van Rensburg was joined on the podium by Beaumont and Norman. Human, Ntuli and Smit rounded out the top 6 in this substantial field.

Wadeley kept her nose ahead of the rest of the field to finish P7 ahead of Zack McAuley (Top Kart) who had an impressive debut run. Liam Wharton (Top Kart), Michael Danks (Top Kart) and Riley Stier (Top Kart) claimed the remaining positions.

Micro MAX (7th – 12th birthday)

It would’ve taken a brave observer to bet against Reese Koorzen, 2019 Micro MAX Champion, putting his kart on pole. He didn’t disappoint, putting in a scorching time as the only racer to qualify under 47s. 

Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic), Jordon Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) and Keagan Beaumont sent a clear signal of intent this year, all qualifying below 48s.

Koorzen may have won the qualifying battle, but he worked extremely hard for the win in Race 1, beating Smit by just 1.7s after they exchanged places for the lead several times. Wadeley and Beaumont had a tight battle which culminated in an on-track P3 for Wadeley, but a demotion to P5 behind Beaumont and Dale Hobbs thanks to a nose cone penalty. 

With wind in his sails after a great battle in P1, Smit set out to upset the Koorzen apple cart (or kart?) in Race 2. He very nearly got it right, finishing P2 behind Koorzen after an even closer battle (0.5s at the flag) and with the fastest lap of the race to his name. Wadeley got the better of Hobbs and Beaumont who fought back to P5 after dropping well down in the opening stages.

Koorzen didn’t have a great start to Race 3, but fought his way back to the lead to claim his third victory for the day and a perfect 105 points haul to ignite his title defence. Smit managed P2 but once again set the fastest lap of the race, sending a very clear signal to Team Koorzen that this year isn’t going to be easy. Beaumont got the better of Hobbs and Wadeley to take P3.

Koorzen enjoyed the top step of the podium, but will be acutely aware that Smit is right on his tail and has certainly demonstrated the pace needed to have a shot at the Championship in 2020. Beaumont will be thrilled with P3 overall in his first race in his new home, with Hobbs and Wadeley settling for P4 and P5 respectively on the day.

Some way back up the track, Eric Norman (Body Elite Praga) claimed best of the rest ahead of Yusuf Parker (Parkers Parts Centre CRG ) and Sabelo Ntuli.

Mini MAX (9th – 14th birthday)

We expected close racing here despite having a smaller grid and we certainly weren’t disappointed. A late entry by out-of-towner Ghazi Motlekar added further spice to an already saucy contest.

Jason MacBeath drew first blood, outqualifying defending Mini MAX Champion Ethan Stier by nearly two tenths. Reza Levy (EMR Kartsport CRG) has wasted no time in getting to the sharp end in Mini MAX, less than a tenth behind Stier. Motlekar, Ethan Deacon (CRG), Paul Malcolm (Cape Pots CRG) and Joshua Smit (S&S Racing Kosmic) all deserve a mention as the entire field qualified within eight tenths of pole.

Stier’s title defence got off to a horrible start, finishing P4 on track and then being demoted to P7 with a tramline penalty. MacBeath battled hard with Levy to claim P1 in the perfect start to his Championship challenge. Deacon drove a lovely race to take P3.

In a test of character for the youngster, Stier suffered a DNS in Race 2 as his chain decided to reposition itself somewhere other than on the gears, taking his day from horrible to absolutely forgettable. MacBeath fought hard once more for P1, with Levy only managing P3 behind Malcolm who should be absolutely thrilled with a P2 finish in that race.

Levy finished the day in style, taking his first ever win in Mini MAX by just 0.087s from MacBeath. With Stier suffering yet another shocker in Race 3 as the bolt on his hub broke on lap 1, Malcolm and Deacon rejoiced in P3 and P4 respectively ahead of Motlekar who suffered a nosecone penalty. 

MacBeath stood proudly on the top step of the podium with an excellent points haul ahead of Levy in P2. Malcolm will never forget this race, sharing the podium with such talented drivers in P3. Deacon took P4 and Motlekar P5.

Stier now stares down the barrel of an incredibly tough season, exhausting at least two out of three drops after just one race of the Championship. His character has shone through before and will do so again. MacBeath and Levy have drawn first blood, but both teams will know that Stier cannot be counted out of this season.

Smit only contested one heat and placed P7 for the day.

Junior MAX (12th – 16th birthday)

Kyle Visser (RKT Tony Kart) claimed pole as the only man in the 41s. Visitor Troy Snyman (Snyman Tony Kart) positioned himself as challenger to the throne, qualifying four tenths back. 

But what of Troy Dolinschek (Makita Powertools Kosmic)? He was actually fastest on track in qualifying, but after an extremely unusual sequence of events, a transponder issue saw his pole time removed and his demotion to the back of the grid.

Things didn’t improve from there for Dolinschek in the early part of the day as he got caught up in the early skirmishes in the mid-pack and retired from Race 1. Visser made hay as the Championship sun shone brightly, taking P1 ahead of Snyman and Andre Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic). 

Dolinschek shook off a rather revolting morning and attacked in Race 2, driving to victory ahead of Visser and Snyman. Dolinschek repeated this form in Race 3, with a more processional affair seeing those three drivers finish in the same order again.

Visser occupied the top step on the podium thanks to a consistent performance, with Dolinschek in P2 and Snyman in P3. 

Andre Le Riche got the better of Mikaeel Moolla, Matthew Wadeley (EMR Kartsport CRG) and brother Kyle Le Riche (Seleka Racing Kosmic).

Charl Visser (RKT FA) and Kai van Zijl (Unlimited Auto ANGRi Kosmic) qualified P1 and P2, but there was a surprise of note on the entry list as Tate Bishop arrived for battle in a Rotax class in addition to his OKJ entry. He qualified P3 ahead of Senior MAX legend Jason Coetzee. 

We say legend for a reason. Despite being off the pace in qualifying, Coetzee quickly reminded everyone why he is regarded as one of the strongest karters in the country. He drove to victory ahead of Bishop and van Zijl, with Visser retiring after running wide on the exit of the 180s. Reece Oelleermann (CRG) claimed P4 ahead of brothers Michael (CRG) and Jared Jordan (CRG).

Coetzee made it two from two in the second race, winning comfortably by over 3 seconds from Bishop and van Zijl. Andrew Rackstraw (CRG) was happy to take P4 from Storm Lanfear (Private Client Financial Kosmic) as Visser suffered another rotten round of luck with a late retirement from P2 after an extremely unfortunate incident while lapping a backmarker. 

The winds of change blew in Race 3 as Visser finally had a positive result, taking P1 from Coetzee. Rackstraw’s day continued to improve, banking P3 ahead of Lanfear and Oellermann after Bishop and van Zijl both received nosecone penalties that relegated them to P6 and P7 respectively.

Overall, Coetzee claimed victory and was joined on the podium by Bishop and van Zijl. Rackstraw, Lanfear and Oellermann rounded out the top 6 as Visser’s entirely forgettable day saw him finish P9 overall

Michael Jordan and Jared Jordan finished P7 and P8 respectively, both on 78 points. Tristan Reddy (CRG) placed P10 behind Visser.

DD2 (15th birthday +)

The major news heading into the DD2 race was Dino Stermin’s (Phoenix Risk Solutions Tony Kart) severe accident in Friday practice, where his kart attempted to self-destruct through pit bend, one of the fastest parts of the track. The result was a badly bent kart but thankfully not a bent driver, as Stermin reported for duty on Saturday. With his kart in such poor shape, the defending Champion faced an uphill battle.

Jason Coetzee (CRG) got the perfect start with a smoking pole time of 40.337s. Sebastian Boyd (Boyd Boss Freight Birel) joined Coetzee on the front row of the grid, with Stermin and Charl Visser (RKT Kosmic) qualifying P3 and P4. 

Coetzee drove a lights to flag win in Race 1, with Boyd taking P2 and Stermin P3. Visser first had to see off a few of the faster Masters in the opening scraps before banking P4. Newbie Neville Chapman sadly only completed 2 laps on the day and didn’t participate in any further action.

Boyd critically set the fastest time in Race 1 and made the most of it in Race 2, driving away to victory. Stermin couldn’t keep the others out, having to settle for P4 behind Coetzee and Visser. 

Race 3 was chaos, with three out of the four DD2 protagonists receiving nosecone penalties. When the dust settled, literally, it was Visser who was classified P1 ahead of Boyd, Coetzee and Stermin.

Although there was no runaway victor on the day, Boyd finally broke through with his first overall victory and a 99 points haul vs. Coetzee with 97 points and Visser with 94 points. Stermin had to settle for P4 after fighting bravely throughout a weekend he will want to forget. Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG) and Andrew Thomas (Carbs and Coffee / Blake Brothers CRG) entered DD2 and DD2 Masters and were classified in both classes. Greyling ended P5 and Thomas P6 in the DD2 standings with Chapman in P7 after an extremely unfortunate debut.

DD2 Masters

In one of the most highly anticipated races of the day, returning karters Jacques De Bruyn (Tony Kart) and Jason Greyling (Nigma Media CRG) stormed onto the scene with P1 and P2 in qualifying. 2019’s leading duo Conor Hughes (Tony Kart) and Roy Gruer (Tony Kart) would have been taken aback to only be P4 and P5 on the grid. 

Race 1 was a victory for Greyling from Hughes by the narrowest of margins, just 0.143s. De Bruyn was in the thick of the action but managed P3 after battling with several drivers. Gruer finished just behind the leading trio while Jared Jordan (CRG) was best of the rest with an impressive drive. 

Other action included an exploding ECU unit on Andrew Thomas’ (Carbs and Coffee / Blake Brothers CRG) kart and a collision on the final lap as Andre Steenkamp (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) ramped over Rob Peche (Carbs and Coffee Media CRG) into turn 1. 

Race 2 was a return to form for Gruer as he took the flag from Hughes and de Bruyn. Thomas finished P2 on track, but a nosecone penalty relegated his bruised kart down to P4. Jordan was once again best of the mid-pack, seeing off Peche who also lost out to Steenkamp in the latter part of the race. Greyling suffered a fall from grace, tragically retiring with a broken fuel line from Race 2 after his earlier win.

Race 3 saw the day’s third different winner, as Hughes crossed the line in P1 from Thomas and Steenkamp. Greyling came home in P4 ahead of Peche in P5 who completed 13 laps with a cracked seat post and a seat that had eventually worn away entirely at the bottom on the tarmac. Steven Beaumont was happy to bank P6 as chaos on track impacted Gruer, De Bruyn, Jordan and Harry Georgiou (Dirty Dawg Racing CRG).

Consistency is clearly going to be the key in the most competitive Masters Championship in the country. 

Hughes took his first overall win of the year ahead of Gruer and Greyling who should be ecstatic with his performance in his first DD2 Masters race.

4th to 8th in the Championship are separated by all of two points, as Steenkamp, Jordan, Thomas, de Bruyn and Peche gear up to do battle in round 2. Beaumont finished P9 and Georgiou P10 with a result that doesn’t do his pace and ability any justice at all. 

Conclusion

It was a breathtaking start to the year. 

The karting community will take the lessons learned in Round 1 and prepare thoroughly for Round 2 scheduled for 14th March. Slightly cooler and hopefully less windy conditions should be supportive of faster lap times. 

It’s going to be epic. See you there!

Photo credit: David Marchio (www.davidmarchio.co.za)