Gauteng Rotax Max Challenge kicks off in fine style in Benoni
The 2021 Gauteng Rotax Max Challenge got off to a cracking start as a packed 100-plus kart entry got down to some hard racing at The Formula K Raceway in Benoni on Saturday.
The DD2 action was fraught as the Cape Town visitor Joseph Oelz showed incredible pace as he staked his claim for national glory at his home track at the end of the month. It was not to be for Oelz however, as a series of challenges saw him limited to just the final heat win. That left home hero Jamie Smith to take the first two heat wins as he did enough to edge Nicolas Spanoyannis for the overall win, after he too hit trouble in the final race.
Brother Brandon Smith ended third from first Masters man home, Morne Janse van Rensburg but it was 8th placed Philippe Chapat who took the Masters win due to the overall scoring nullifying his second heat issue. Ian Allnutt was fifth from Divan Braak, Wayland Wyman and Chapat, with Ethan Toth next up from Masters trio Niko Zafiris, Carlo Gil, Tinahe Ncube and a troubled Nicholas Verheul among a very healthy 17-kart field.
Kian Grottis stormed to a dominant three-race Senior Max win over Tahier Ramlalli, who beat Olerato Sekudu two second places to one to clinch the runner up slot. Dane van Heerde was fourth from Kyle Pienaar, Ryan Wustmann and Andrew Hill. SA champion Muhammad Wally likewise took a trio of high school Junior Max wins over KC Ensor-Smith as Nicolaos Vostanis ended third from Moosa Kajee, Karabo Malemela and Godfrey Malumane.
Th other primary school action was extreme as Caleb Odendaal fought back to take two under-13 Mini Max race wins as he beat race 1 winner Wian Boshoff by a point, with Erich Heystek right there throughout. The class of the day, the three of them fought hard, finishing inside the same second in races two and three. Kent Swartz, Georgia Lenaerts and Kgabang Mngadi ended fourth, fifth and sixth in an entertaining 11-machine dice through the day.
Reagile Mailula took a couple of wins in a hard fought afternoon in the under-11 Micro Max races, as he held Rafael da Silva and Kegan Martin off, before Martin turned the tables to take the final from d Silva, Mattao Mason and Malulia, who ultimately took an easy overall win. Mason ended fourth overall from Taylin Patel, Aadam Kajee, Cristian Verheul and Johan Nolte in another well-filled grid.
Santiago Frade took two race wins to Matthew Shuttleworth’s one to clinch baby Bambino honours amid another hearteningly full grid of kid karters. Maddox Mason ended third from Shayaan Mohamed, Kayde Cornofsky, Tyron Kinghorn, Bophelo Molatlhegi, Logan Billau, Brodi Cooper Dowling and tenth placed Rafael de Sousa among the 15-kart grid.
In other action on the day, the revived Gauteng 125 Shifter class is attracting a strong field of legendary drivers to the fold. Former Rotax Max world champion Gavin Cronje beat SA race heroes Tato Carello and Deon Auby and shifter kart expert Rob Bakewell, Jaco Nel and Ryan Cooper to the first race win. A snap storm then wreaked havoc in the second race won by Auby from Carello, Ian Basson, Andreas Kyriacou, Nel and Ruan Greef.
And finally, Robert Fulton beat Michael Hawcroft and Avinesh Francis to Clubmans victory to close off another truly memorable and chilled day of Gauteng Rotax Max Challenge action under the auspices of WOMZA. The second Gauteng round is at Zwartkops on Saturday 10 April, but first there is the small matter for the opening round of the 2021 South African Rotax Max Challenge. That goes down at Killarney in Cape Town on 27 March.