Rotax Max Challenge karting delivers high-speed tumbles
JUSTIN Allison from Bloemfontein did as we predicted in
Wheels last week to win the ultra-competitive DD2 Gearbox Class headliner race of the second National round in the 2015 South African Rotax Max Challenge karting extravaganza.
The race meeting, which saw karters compete in four different Rotax categories, was notable for a series of high-speed tumbles and clashes between front-runners, and a number of penalties were imposed in the various classes.
Fortunately there were no serious injuries, although one karter was taken to hospital for a check-up after a crash in the Saturday morning warm-up.
Held at the Vereeniging Kart raceway on Saturday, Allison was followed home by Jonathan Aberdein from Cape Town and in second place and KZN’s Benjamin Habig in third.
Habig led Race Two at one stage.
In the DD2 Masters category, for drivers 32 years and older, Potchefstroom’s Ronnie Baptista emerged the winner after his main rival, Durban’s champion Cris Morgado, suffered a huge cart-wheeling crash in the second race.
He was luckily uninjured, leaving the track after avoiding a spinning competitor. Master’s stalwart John van Wyk (now based in England) took second, ahead of Nicholas Verheul, who suffered exhaust valve problems in the second race, but bounced back to finish second in the final race.
Jonathan Aberdein has set himself the ambitious SA Championship task of competing in both DD2 and the non-gearbox Rotax Max Challenge class this year, the two top categories in international karting.
And once again he was at the cutting edge of the grid, and, consequently, the centre of some controversy.
Dicing with Race One winner Jordan Sherrat (KZN) in the second race, on the final lap the two disputed the same piece of tarmac three corners away from the chequered flag, with Aberdein easing Sherrat wide and Sherrat in turn short-cutting over the grass to win.
The resulting stewards meeting reversed this order, with quick lady driver Fabienne Lanz in third. However, for overall honours it was Natal’s Luca Canderle who had the last laugh. His second place in Race One and a fourth in Race Two was followed up by a win in the final, to see him declared winner for the day.
His decision to compete in Max Challenge as well as DD2 is thus paying dividends for this very quick and experienced driver.
Junior Max Challenge
With an ultra-strong field of 18 karts entered for this class for drivers aged 13 to 16, the future for karting bodes well in South Africa. As indeed the racing proved, with any one of six drivers in contention for the lead throughout the three races held over the weekend. The only driver missing from this bunch early on was the unfortunate Luca Munaretto, who qualified fifth on the Friday, but was involved in an accident straight afterwards as he slowed down after setting his lap time, and he was out for the weekend.
Thus the race for overall honours developed between Gauteng ace Joshua Dias and KZN karting returnee and former Maxterino champion Clinton Bezuidenhout.
These two shared the wins and disputed the race lead all weekend, and Dias in fact was looking good for an overall victory, but was docked five places after jumping the start in Race 3! Thus the overall win for Round Two went to the giveno-quarter Bezuidenhout.
If either of these two made the slightest slip there was a train of four drivers right on their rear axles the entire weekend. Jason Coetzee from Cape Town placed third overall, from KZN’s Dominic Lincoln, followed by two more Cape drivers, Dino Stermin and Delano Fowler.
The Maxterino category for 60 cc karts is the National Championship class for the smallest drivers in the 2015 SARMC but arguably the most competitive!
Some 18 drivers took the start in Race One, and the favourite, Kwanda Makoena duly won the first heat on Friday.
However his Saturday morning warm-up shunt put him out for the weekend and this left the way clear for the likes of the incredibly determined Aidan Strydom from Cape Town (winner of Round One on home turf) and Gauteng’s Cameron O’Connor to fight things out.
They were joined in battle by Guateng’s Zaood Variawa and another bunch of quick Cape drivers, including Joseph Oelz and Troy Dolinschek.
A feature of this racing was the way these drivers passed and re-passed each other many times a lap, and yet still managed to leave room for each other on the exit of a corner.
At close of play it was O’Connor that won the day from Variawa, with Strydom third overall ,after looking like a potential winner all weekend but tangling at crucial moments. Fourth was Oelz, followed by Dolinschek, and yet another quick Cape driver, Charl Visser. • The third round of the 2015 South African Rotax Max Challenge is to be held at the Idube Raceway in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, in August, with the final round scheduled for October at the Zwartkops Raceway, west of Pretoria.