SOUTH AFRICAN ROTAX MAX CHALLENGE 2015 ROUND THREE
Maxterino Class steals the karting show at Idube, KZN ,as the DD2 field swells to nearly 30 karts.
The two stand-out features at Round Three of the 2015 SA Rotax Max Challenge karting championship was the biggest entry in over a decade seen in the top-tier DD2 Gearbox class, and the closest racing seen in decades in the Maxterino class for youngsters aged 8-13 years old.
And in each and every Rotax category, the competition for the lead was fierce, with no competitor claiming any manner of a runaway victory at the tight tricky Idube circuit, which puts a premium on both driver skill and a strong engine set-up to cope with the uphill climbs.
The Idube round saw many different drivers score valuable points in the Four-Round 2015 SA Rotax Max Challenge 2015, and has set up a wonderful finale for the final round to be run at Zwartkops on September 25 to 26.
Maxterino. The youngsters in this class were so close that it seemed as if the lead changed every corner on every lap in all three races at Idube! And the best part of the racing, for both spectators and competitors, was that each driver seemed to be able to accommodate an overtaking manoeuvre without tangling wheels, and yet retain enough momentum to come back fighting just a few corners later.
The racing was so close that in the second heat the top seven finishers crossed the line just 1,2 seconds apart! In each and every race the order at the front changed, with different race winners in all three races. When the excitement finally settled to a post-race adrenalin-wash, Tristan Losch form Cape Town emerged as the winner for the day, followed fellow Capetonian Charl Visser and Gauteng’s Cameron O’ Connor.
Kwanda Mokoena from Gauteng ended up fourth overall but could well have won the points-chase for the day, but for an over-ambitious out-braking manoeuvre in the final race that saw him run out of road and finish at the tail end of the field. Joseph Oelz was fifth, followed by the fast-improving Saood Variawa. Surprisingly, the impressive Aidan Strydom from Cape Town, who has been a top championship contender so far, battled in KZN and ended up seventh for the day.
DD2 Gearbox. The sight of some 28 DD2 Gearbox karts taking starter’s orders on the tight Idube track took the breath away and gladdened the hearts of the promotors. And once again the racing was fierce, with some surprises at the front of the field, if not in the overall standings for this three-race Championship round.
Local favourite Benjamin Habig looked set for a fantastic weekend as he won the first race and placed third in the second, but saw his weekend ruined when his pit-crew misplaced a piece of the exhaust power valve, which saw him putter around power-less in the final race. Likewise, current SA DD2 champion Bradley Liebenberg from Lonehill in Gauteng had a difficult weekend made worse when he hit a stationary kart in Race Two, fortunately without injury. The fact that he fought back to win the third race speaks volumes for his natural talent.
But this was to take nothing away from the overall winner of the day from Cape Town, Jonathan Aberdein. The youngster has put an enormous effort into this racing this year, competing in the Euro Challenge as well as at his home circuit in 2015, and a second place in the opening race and a win in Race Two saw him the overall winner in KZN, despite a tangle that dropped him back in the third race. Local KZN hero Mitchel Licen followed up a lowly placing in the first race to score two fine second places in DD2, and there were times when it looked as if he may run out the winner for the day.
Eugen Brittz from Pretoria filled out the podium spot, followed by Jurie Swart from Cape Town, Cristiano Morgado from Durban in fifth and Kashen Naiker in sixth
DD2 Masters. The Masters class for drivers aged 32 runs concurrently in the DD2 races, and has long been dominated by KZN ace Cris Morgado, who has also won World Championships in this category in recent years. He did the business as usual on his home track at Idube, but he is being run very closein this year’s title chase by Potchefstroom's Ronnie Baptista, who finished second. Nicholas Verheul from Kempton Park finished third, followed by John van Wyk, Richard van Heerde and Shaun Vallance. Series organiser Jennifer Verheul, making a return to competition-driving this year when time permits, showed great speed in KZN to place third in Race Two
Senior Max. Jonathan Aberdein’s achievement in winning both the DD2 class and the Senior Max class at Idube –and increasing his championship lead in both categories – should not be underestimated. Those in the know point to the difficulty in in switching from one category to the next over a race weekend, as the non-gearbox Senior Max kart requires much more sensitive braking (these karts only have brakes on the rear wheels) and carrying much more momentum through a corner to make up for running just a single gear over an entire lap. On the other hand, the DD2 kart requires a more aggressive style to get the most from its two-speed set-up, and extra braking power from the front wheel brakes.
As happened in DD2, a local driver pressed hard to wrest the overall win from the young Capetonian, and in Senior Max it was KZN’s Jordan Sherrat who took the fight to Aberdein. Sherrat won the opening race, had a slight incident which dropped him back in Race Two but came back a fighting third in race Three. The excellent lady-driver Fabienne Lanz had a great run at Idube, placing third overall, followed by another local ace Luca Canderle in fourth, Robert Whiting in fifth and the ever-improving Ivana Cetinich – another fast female – in sixth.
Junior Max. Delon Thompson from Gauteng and Dino Stermin from Cape Town battled it out over all three races for supremacy in this class for youngsters aged 13 to 16. In the end, Thompson ran out the winner in all three races, but he was pushed hard all weekend by Stermin, who is enjoying a great 2015 season. Fellow Capetonian Jason Coetzee claimed third place in all three races to end up third for the day, followed by KZN’s Dominic Lincoln, Delano Fowler from Cape Town and Daniel Duminy.
* Fourth and final round of the SARMC 2015 takes place at Zwartkops on September 25-26, and the winners of the three Rotax classes will win a place in the World Championships, known as the 2015 Rotax Grand Final, in Portugal, a week-long race meeting held from November 9-14. With the Zwartkops final hosting four races per category, and competitors allowed to drop their three weakest results over the 13-race championship series in 2015, huge fields are expected in all the Rotax categories, as well as the Maxterino class, which carries SA Championship status.
* A fortnight after the Final SARMC round, Rotax karters will have another opportunity to win a berth in the 2015 Grand Finals in Portugal. Zwartkops will host the 2015 Africa Open meeting on October 11 and the winners in each of these categories will earn a place in the 2015 Grand Finals.
For further information contact Jennifer Verheul on 082 2947485, or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Rotax website, www.kart.co.za
All pictures for this media release at Idube, SARMC 2015 Round Three, taken by Heinrich Sauer of Cape Town