The intense series of qualifying events for the 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals begins at the NOLA Raceway in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA today.
The first qualifying practise rounds for the 10-strong South African team taking part begin at 1 pm (Louisiana time) to sort out the grid positions for the first qualifying races, which begin tomorrow (Thursday, November 14). The finals are to be run on Saturday.
Favourite amongst the South Africans to win a title is Durban’s Cristiano Morgado. He has already won three titles in the Rotax Grand Finals , which is effectively the World Championship for karting, as it is the most competitive series in the world, with over 35 000 active Rotax Max karters taking part across the globe.
The level of competition in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is the most intense to be found, as to qualify, drivers have to win either a national championship or an international championship in the world-wide Rotax series in that particular year. If for any reason champions from the 67 countries taking part this year could not travel to the USA, then their places have been filled by runners-up in their countries’ series.
This still makes for arguably the most competitive motorsport championship of any kind in the world, where all 288 competitors are effectively champions, or at least runners-up in their respective countries. This is unlike many other karting championships, where competitors’ eligibility is often based merely on the financial ability to afford a slot on the grid.
Morgado won his first Rotax Max Challenge title way back in 2003, in the Senior Max category. Since then he has won two DD2 Gearbox class Masters titles, for drivers 32 years and older. He is currently the reigning DD2 Masters champ
The other South African most likely to succeed this weekend is another KZN driver, Luca Canderle, this year’s African Open DD2 Class winner. Canderle competed at last year’s Grand Finals in Portugal and finished an excellent ninth (out of 72 drivers) in the DD2 class, after a tremendous fight-back through the field after getting knocked off the track in an earlier heat.
Staying out of trouble is vital in all the qualifying races on Thursday and Friday for all the drivers taking part, especially the South Africans with less experience in this three-day event of non-stop pressure. The finals rounds will be held on Saturday evening (SA time) to decide the champions.
The South African team is as a follows:
Junior Max: Julian van der Watt (WP) and Jordan Sherratt (KZN)
Senior Max: Luke Herring (WP) and Nathan Perkins (Gauteng)
DD2 Gearbox: Luca Canderle (KZN) and Ryan Frost (Gauteng)
DD2 Masters: Cristiano Morgado (KZN) Lourens van resnburg (WP), Richard van Heerde (KZN) and Connor Hughes (WP).
Absolute equipment parity for this event is ensured by the international Rotax organisers (based in Austria). As at the previous 13 Grand Finals championships held all over the world, each competitor draws his kart and engine and tyres from a raffle, and all the equipment is identical and brand new.
Uniquely, each of the competitors (all 288 of them) are also provided with tools, a kart trolley, fuel and oil for the event. No other motor-sporting event in the world offers this kind of “service” to its participants!
For those motorsport fans interested in watching the action live, here is a link that will provided awesome race coverage through-out the three-day event: