Benjamin Habig, Michael Stephen, Charl Visser, Jonathan Pieterse, Troy Dolinshek, Troy Snyman, Reese Koorzen and Tshepang Shisinwana each etched their names into the South African karting history books at Zwartkops over the weekend where they became 2019’s Rotax Max Challenge national champions. Habig, Stephen, Visser, Pieterse, Dolinschek, Snyman and Koorzen meanwhile booked their tickets to race for South Africa in the world championships of Max karting, the Grand Finals in Italy in October, while Shisinwana earns a trip to watch the Grand Finals.
It was a fiery race weekend throughout, as several titles went down to the wire amid controversy and drama in most classes too, with championships stolen, fought back for and won over an epic two days of racing.
All KZN karter Benjamin Habig needed was a consistent weekend to wrap up the 2019 SA DD2 gearbox title and he delivered a couple of thirds and a fourth while he sat back and watched Bradley Liebenberg and Dino Stermin try their best to close his title advantage down. Habig however had a scare in the Final after a skirmish with Stermin, but he had enough in hand to take the title by ten points from Stermin and Liebenberg, who raced to all four Pretoria race wins. That last race contretemps allowed Brandon Smith to take second for the day from Stermin, with Jonathan Thomas fourth behind Smith, who took the title fourth from Justin Allison, Dominic Lincoln and Thomas.
Port Elizabeth race legend Michael Stephen was only third in the opening DD2 Masters race, but he was soon back to his winning ways to win the day as he put the finishing touches to a perfect maximum 350-point championship score courtesy of ten race wins. It was a relatively easy weekend of over-30s racing as Eugene Brittz took that first race win off Stephen to end second for the weekend ahead of championship runner-up Jonathan Pieterse, while Brett Brito held Conor Hughes, Alistair Mingay, Roy Gruer and Andre Steenkamp off for fourth in the title race.
Another class to go down without any real drama was Senior Max, where Cape Town lad Charl Visser romped to a four race rout to clinch his second SA Rotax Max title in as many years. Shrien Naidoo was second at Zwartkops to wrap up that title position too, while Jayden Els made up for lost ground with a solid run to the championship third after missing the opening round. Through all the drama, consistent Kai van Zijl took second for the day as he also fended Simon Simpson-Heath, Connor Donovan and Wayland Wyman for the title fourth.
KZN driver Jonathan Pieterse was another driver to sit back and let them come at his championship lead, but he still took a race win, a second and a couple of thirds as he kept tabs on Nicholas Verheul to win SA’s first Max 175 senior championship. Verheul who won the other three races to end up second in that championship, while Erwin Sterne took third for the weekend to nick the title fourth from Geoff Stephen.
All four school kid classes however delivered incredible action, starting with high school under-15 Junior Max, where three drivers shared wins on the day, but it was final race winner, Capetonian Troy Dolinschek who took the day to nick the title from first race winner Aqil Alibhai, who did just enough to hold the day’s winner, Tate Bishop off for second in the title race. Top rookie Kyle Visser was third overall as he drove to fourth in the title chase from Ethan Coetzee, Ndumiso Bungani and an on form Lorenzo Cianfanelli, who ended his season with a fine second in the final heat of the season.
The primary school classes proved even more dramatic, starting when an underweight Mini Max title leader Troy Snyman was excluded from his first race win. The Pietermaritzburg lad however kept focus and marched on to dominate the other three races and steal the under-13 title back by five points from Matthew Morrell, who had inherited that first race win and ended second in the other three. Second on the day, Muhammad Wally missed the title third by just three points in a close Gauteng 1-2-3 ahead of the third placed driver on the day, Cape lad Jason MacBeath. Ghazi Motlekar meantime came from behind to beat Ethan Stier and Mandla Mlangeni to fifth in the title race.
Cape Town’s Reese Koorzen had enjoyed a great weekend at Zwartkops, having won the first three races and was leading the Final when he ground to a halt with five laps to race. It seemed no problem in the title chase as Dhiyven Naidoo took the lead, but that race win pushed Naidoo to within three points of Koorzen in the final standings! Reza Levy meanwhile did enough to keep Mohammed Moerat and Luviwe Sambudla at bay for third on the championship as they diced the weekend away with Erich Heystek.
It was also a close run thing in baby Bambino, where Jozi kid Tshepang Shisinwana took three race wins and survived a last race scare to edge his Cape rivals Rayan Karriem and Luan Mostert to the first ever SA national kid kart championship. Caleb Moss and Caleb Odendaal ended third and fourth in that title chase from Jordon Wadeley, but the biggest winner here is karting with a growing list of racing rookies joining the grid through the season.
Habig, Stephen, Visser, Pieterse, Dolinschek, Snyman and Koorzen now join African Open winners, Bradley Liebenberg (DD2), Eugene Brittz (DD2 Masters), Wayland Wyman (Senior Max), and Aqil Alibhai (Junior Max) in the SA team set to race the Rotax Max World Finals in Sarno, Italy in October, while Shisinwana joins the other Open winners, Muhammad Wally (Mini), Reza Levy (Micro) and Caleb Odendaal (Bambino) to go watch the Grand Finals.