South Africa’s Cristiano Morgado won the DD2 Master’s Class in the world’s most competitive karting series in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA yesterday (Saturday, November 16, 2013).
In beating out 72 other champion karters in his class from all parts of the world, the 35-year-old from Durban became the first driver to win four World Championships in the Rotax Max Challenge Finals, a series that has been running since 1999. Morgado won the Senior Max class in 2003, and since 2011 he has been the World DD2 Masters Rotax champion.
“It was never going to be easy,” said the modest Morgado, who took the lead on the third lap of the final, after a gruelling four-day series that saw over 280 karters from 60 countries around the world take part.
After winning the pre-final, Morgado was pushed back to third place at the start of the 20-lap final, but through excellent race craft he took the lead on the third lap and stayed in front.
He came under extreme pressure towards the end of his race, but held on to win.
“Every lap was like a qualifying lap,” said Morgado, adding he was relieved that the final set-up he had made to his kart’s chassis paid off.
“I would like to thank my father Rui, who has supported me throughout my racing career, and thank God. It is a privilege to race against people of this experience. And I remember back to the days when I couldn’t even make the South African team!”
The other South Africans in the 10-strong team that travelled to Louisiana didn’t fare as well at the beautifully laid out NOLA Raceway, half an hour outside New Orleans. Luca Canderle from KZN qualified in the top 10 in his pre-final in the DD2 Open Class, and was running as high as seventh, but an early race incident on lap two knocked him back to 28th position. He did well to fight back to 15th place, while fellow South African Ryan Frost from Gauteng started in 34th position in the DD2 final and did well to fight back to 18th place.
Nathan Parkins (Gauteng) finished the Senior Max final in 14th place after a good drive. A very talented driver, this was Parkins’ first exposure to the super-competitiveness of the Rotax series, which is by invitation only to champions in respective Rotax series around the world.
South Africa finished sixth in the Nations Cup, won by the USA. However, thanks to extremely strong showings over the years in this championship – the very first Rotax Grand Final was won by Gavin Cronje in late 1999 – South Africa remains the most successful country in the history of the Rotax Grand Finals.