The 2017 Northern Regions Karting Championships got off to a great start at Zwartkops Kart raceway on February 18, with entries totalling 114 karts, spread over the packed race programme. The meeting saw nine different classes being run with three races each, and the action was fast and sometimes furious!

Packed DD2 field. Winner Marouan Selmi (66) leads Bucholz (21) and Baptista (26)

“It was a very encouraging start to the karting season up here in Gauteng,” said South African Rotax Importer Ed Murray, who is also the co-owner of the Zwartkops International Kart Raceway. “To receive 114 entries for this Regional bodes well for the rest of the season, where we’ll have significantly more entries at rounds that also count towards the SA Rotax Max Challenge National Championship.”

Rotax DD2 Gearbox and DD2 Masters: An excellent field of 15 entries marked the first Northern Regions round in 2017 for the top “prestige “class in SA karting. What was notable about this first regional DD2 round was how competitive the drivers in the Masters class were, in the race-within-a-race that sees drivers aged 32 and over compete both in DD2 for the overall win, as well as in their age category.

Veteran Marouan Selmi was in top form out the blocks for 2017 and backed up two second places in Races One and Three with a win in Race Two, to end up overall winner for the day, and also take the Masters Category. Young Michael Buchholz was the Race One winner, and placed second overall by adding second and third places to his tally, while another “veteran”, Ronny Baptista, added to his brace of third places in the first two races  to win the final race of the day!

Eugene Gous, was fourth overall, with the ever-improving lady driver Ivana Cetinich fifth, ahead of Brandon Smith. Selmi, Baptista and Gous logically locked out the top three positions for the day in DD2 Masters.

Junior Max : Young lady driver Cameron Dias made a great debut in the Junior Max class for drivers aged 12 to 15, having served her “apprenticeship” over the past few seasons in Maxterino and Mini Max. Cameron  led a number of laps in Race One before dropping to second behind the very competitive Blaine Rademeyer,  who struck top form in this opening regional round.

Rademeyer ended up winning all three races, while Jordan North was also very quick and took second overall with his third and two second places. Another lady driver to impress was Tiffany Napier, who ended up third overall for the day with consistent top-five placings. Dias finished third in Race Two, but unfortunately crashed on the opening lap of the final race and ended up fourth for the day. The very competitive field saw 14 starters in this important Junior class.

Senior Max: Cameron O’Connor continues to show class in every karting category as he moves up to higher age categories. Having taken titles in Junior Max, he is now in the Senior Max category for drivers aged 14 and over and he sewed up the opening Northern regions Max Challenge round with two good wins and a second to win overall for the day. The driver who gave him his biggest challenge was KZN-based Daniel Duminy, who has decided to compete in the Northern Regions championship this year. Duminy finished second in Race One to O’Connor, had a scrappy Race Two, but bounced back to win Race Three and end second overall. Oliver Gunner was third for the day, ahead of the ever impressive East London lass Shannon Jackson.

Mini Rok. Leyton Fourie came good at Zwartkops on February 18, winning the very competitive Mini Rok class after some nail-biting tussles. Young Fourie battled all afternoon with the impressive Sa’ood Variawa to take the overall win for the day with two race wins and a second place. Variawa picked up a fourth place in Race One to improve to second in race Two and win in Race Three, to place second overall, ahead of the always-spectacular Kwanda Mokoena, and Anthony Pretorius.

Rotax Mini Max: Leyton Fourie capped a great day by also winning the first regional round of the new Mini Max series for drivers aged 10 to 13 years-old, with this series now enjoying National Championship status for the first time. Fourie won all three races in Mini Max, but he was kept honest by the very forceful drives of Daniel de Paiva and Jarrod Waberski, who both looked to be in with a shout of an overall win. De Paiva’a third place and two seconds saw him finish second overall ahead of Waberski.

Maxterino: Jordan Brooks scored a clean sweep of wins to score maximum points in the opening round of the Maxterino series, for drivers aged 7-to 11 years old. Joshua de Paiva finished second in all three races, while third for the day was Aqil Alibhai, followed by Bjorn Bertholdt. Muhammed Wally scored two third places in Races One and Three but dropped out of Race Two, missing out on vital championship points.

Cadet:  Luke Hill was the class of the field in this tiddler class for drivers aged five to eight years-old. In Race One he streaked away from the field, but in Races Two and Three he was given a great run for his money by Wian Boshoff, second overall for the day. Anthon Lombard ended up third for the day, while Cyril Jacobs, also impressed to end fourth overall, after scoring two third places over the three-race programme.

Micro Max: The 2017 season is also the first year where the new Rotax Micro Max class will be run for a full championship season, following the National roadshow as a supporting class. Although at this stage it still has club status only the SARMC series winner will get the all important invite to the 2017 Rotax World Finals. The day’s racing saw a big tussle between Mohammed  Moerat, Jayden Goosen and Joshua de Paiva. Moerat ended up the victor with two wins and a third, while Goosen was right in the mix with a third and two seconds to place second overall for the day. Joshua de Paiva was excluded from the first race, but fought back brilliantly to take a second in Race Two and  a win in Race Three.  Third overall after consistent top-six results was Judd Bertholdt.

125 GP Gearbox Class: The 125 GP class has grown in strength and the opening round saw no less than 17 starters. This class caters mainly for older karters who are out for fun rather than future motorsport glory, but the racing is nevertheless fast and frenetic. Miguel Dias ended up winning the day with a first, a second and a third in the three races, with Clint Jones second overall after two thirds and a fourth place, and Ian Basson third for the day. The very quick Scott falconer won the first race but had an incident that dropped him way back in Race Two, so he ended up fourth overall for the day. Rob Bakewell won the 125 GP Veterans class, while Kyle Lawrence won the 125 Superkarts category run alongside the GP machines in the same race.