Kwanda Mokoena has won the 2016 African Maxterino Karting Open, winning himself a ticket to watch the Rotax Max World Finals in Italy and in a small way redeeming his missing out on double 2016 South African national karting titles by the closest imaginable margins. 12-year old Kyalami kid kart star Mokoena drove a canny race to take the primary school Maxterino 60cc final and came home sixth in his debut in the under-14 Mini Max final.
“That was a difficult weekend, but I am so happy to have won the Maxterino African Open,” Kwanda beamed. “I had to fight back hard for this one, but I went all out guns blazing in the final – we had to contend with Muhammed Wally whose powerful engine caught me by surprise, but I used my best racecraft to roll the dice and win.”
Mokoena had endured a horrible morning in qualifying when a coil failed, causing him to start at the back of the grid. An astounding opening lap then saw him up to fourth before Kwanda finished a brilliant second. “From there I slugged it out with Muhammed and Aquil Alibhai, but I knew that I couldn’t match Muhammed on power, so I had to play chess all day to beat him and Aqil to win.”
“I’m still sad that I lost the SA Maxterino Championship the way we did – we were only notified that certain regional races were to count to our national score after we had missed two of those races, so losing that title by a quarter of a point was a bitter pill to swallow on top of ending up second by just a point in the SA Mini Rok title.”
Kwanda’s Mini Max debut was also complicated by a technical issue when a starter motor issue left him with just 2 laps to qualify, but he still put it fourth on the grid, but a down-on-power engine however prevented any real progress and Kwanda ended sixth in the final. “I had a Mini Max gun with no bullets but I still had great fun in Mini Max, so I’m pleased to be in the top 6 there.
“Karting is a team sport and I could never be here on my own,” Kwanda concluded. “I have to thank my mom and dad for their brilliant support and belief in me, Thabs my mechanic, my Squadra Corse team boss Eli, Ettiene from RKT and my number one fan, my sister Keanda. “Thanks also to the officials of the day and to the marshals for all their hard work and thank God for the opportunity to race and win.”