WhatSouth African Rotax Max Challenge Review
WhereSouth Africa
CommunitySouth Africa National

SA Kart Championships went down to the line

The 2021 Rotax Max Challenge delivered a spectacular season of racing across the classes, as it crowned seven South African and seven African karting champions. The South African titles were fought out over four fraught rounds at Killarney in Cape Town, Benoni’s Formula K, iDube near Pietermaritzburg and at Zwartkops in Pretoria. The Zwartkops weekend also included the winner take all African Open. 

November's international flight embargoes may have sadly prevented the champions from competing in the Rotax Max Grand Finals in Bahrain this week, but that takes nothing away from the various epic achievements across the classes. The premier direct drive gearbox Rotax Max DD2 class started as a straight fight between Cape BirelART home rivals Joseph Oelz and Sebastian Boyd, before KZN home hero Robert Whiting and his CRG turned the tables at iDube’s third round.

There was drama at the first round of the final when both leaders were excluded and Gauteng star Brandon Smith and his Riccardo took the first two wins. But Oelz and Boyd bounced back. Oelz took the title as Boyd held Smith off for second. Gauteng trio Nicolas Spanoyannis’ Ricciardo, Wayland Wyman’s TonyKart and Jamie Smith and his BirelART rounded off the top six. And then four time SA DD2 champion Liebenberg returned to karting to steal the African Open title from his regular rivals.

Over-31 DD2 Masters proved far tighter. It seemed as though multiple SA racing champion Michael Stephen would be difficult to stop on his Ricciardo in the early season, but he could not complete his karting year. Which opened the way for a fine three way fight for the title between Pretoria lad Nicholas Verheul on his CRG, Jonathan Pieterse out of KZN on his Tony and Intrepid mounted Eugene Brittz from Jozi.

Pieterse won three races through the season and Brittz one, but Verheul finished the season with a four win run at home to clinch the title by all of six points from Pieterse and Brittz! Both Andrew Thomas from Cape Town driving a CRG and KZN driver Shane Foley on his Tony Kart impressed to come home fifth and sixth behind Stephen in the title chase, while Brittz won when it mattered most in the wildcard African Open final.

Capetonian Tate Bishop made the open class chain drive Senior Max his own on his Kosmic. He won six races en route to the title, but was made to work by Gauteng lad Kian Grottis' Kosmic, Riley Horner from KZN on a Tony and Cape rival, ’21 Investchem F1600 champion Andrew Rackstraw's CRG. Polo Cup racer Bishop beat Grottis and Horner to the title with Gauteng Tony Kart lad Olerato Sekudu fourth from KZN Kosmic duo Jack Rowe and Juandre Nel, as Grottis took the African Open.

The fight of the year was however the season long high school Junior Max battle. KZN star Troy Snyman won five races on his Tony Kart to pip Gauteng triple winner Muhammad Wally's Exprit to the title by just two points. Jozi lad Jayden Goosen won two races on his Kosmic and Cape kid Reza Levy one on his CRG. But both missed rounds to end up third and fourth from another Cape lad Matthew Wadeley’s CRG and Corban Spies from KZN on a Tony. Wally made good with the African Open win.

Gauteng's Wian Boshoff was imperious in under-13 Mini Max as he won ten of the 13 races on his CRG. Cape rival Joaquin de Oliveira took two of the other wins on his Parolin en route to second in the championship, from Johannesburg trio Kent Swartz’s Parolin and Caleb Odendaal, who pipped Erich Heystek’s similar Praga to fifth by a point. KZN kid Travis Mingay was the only other driver to win a race at home on his Exprit to end sixth, while de Oliveira took revenge with the African Open win.

The under-11 Micro Max season was epic too. Reagile ’Spice' Mailula was unbeatable through the first half on his Praga, but then local rival Rafael da Silva dominated the latter half on his Tony. Spice took it by just two points! Both had to keep an eye out on consistent Capetonian Keagan Beaumont, the only other driver to win on his Parolin and Jozi’s Mattao Mason’s Tony. African Open winner Kegan Martin came good later on his Praga and Gqeberha’s Joshua Moore was always in the frame.

The baby Bambinos were also close all season long, but Jozi lad Maddox Mason won four races in a fine late season charge to take it from his triple winning compatriot Matthew Shuttleworth. Gqeberha lightie Jack Moore also won two races to keep right in there to the final turn. And Cape kid Michael Danks also won a race to keep ahead of Jozi duo Logan Billau and Santiago Frade in the title race. Mason closed off in style by adding the African Open to his national crown.

The 2022 South African Rotax Max Challenge commences with its first regionals late in January before the regular four-round commences shortly after. Then with a little luck, it will be third time lucky for the South African team to get back to their winning ways at the annual ‘Olympics of Karting’ Rotax Max grand Finals.  


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