South African Rotax Max Challenge National Finals Report

Boyd, Brittz, Visser, Smith, Odendaal, Da Silva & Cronje

Rotax Max crowned its 2022 South African champions through a splendid day of kart racing among a record entry at Zwartkops’ National Finals on Sunday. 

Sebastian Boyd is the 2022 SA DD2 champion, Eugene Brittz took the DD2 Masters title and Charl Michael Visser Senior Max. KC Ensor-Smith is the ’22 SA Junior Max champion, Caleb Odendaal Mini and Rafael Da Silva Micro Max champion. And Noah Cronje is the 2022 South African baby Bambino champion.

Boyd, Brittz, Visser, Smith and Da Silva will now join African Open champions, Bradley Liebenberg in DD2, and Senior Max driver Shrien Naidoo at the ‘Olympics of Karting Rotax Max Grand Finals at Portimão in Portugal, while second in the Mini Max title race, Aadam Kajee will join Odendaal there in Mini Max.

The Zwartkops raceday was typified by close racing among SA’s biggest ever national round field. Champion Sebastian Boyd took the sober route to the DD2 title, sitting back and keeping out of trouble. Cape compatriot Joseph Oelz took three wins to Jozi lad Jamie Smith’s one to take the day from Boyd, Smith, Kian Grottis, Bradley Liebenberg, and Nicolas Spanoyannis. Veteran Cristiano Morgado ended seventh from Tiaan Eloff. Boyd ultimately took the title by only four points from Smith, Grottis, Brandon Smith and Spanoyannis.

Home hero Nicholas Verheul took three race wins to Eugene Brittz’ one DD2 Masters win for the day, but it was not enough for Verheul to wrest the title from Brittz. Vets’ winner Philippe Chapat put in a splendid win to take third on the day. KZN driver Alistair Mingay ended fourth from Marco Viegas, Cape two Conor Hughes and Andrew Thomas, Tinahe Ncube and troubled championship third man, KZN driver Jonathan Pieterse. Vets two Derrick Joseph and Jonathan Kairuz were next up. Hughes ended fourth in the Masters’ title chase from Mingay and Thomas.

The Senior Max title race was thrown wide open when championship leader Tate Bishop made a late call to concentrate on his main circuit efforts. That left Cape compatriot and Polo Cup rival Charl Visser to steal the Senior title and the ticket to Portimão without winning a heat on Sunday. Second overall, Charl’s three seconds and a third were enough to clinch the title after Muhammad Wally won the day with three race wins, and third on the day, Troy Snyman took the third win. Olerato Sekudu ended fourth from Reza Levy, Roshaan Goodman, Moosa Kajee and Ethan Stier in a full 16-kart field. Visser beat Karabo Malemela Kajee, Goodman and Bishop to his fifth national karting title.

There was never really any doubt about who would be high school age Junior Max champion, but KC Ensor-Smith took three more wins and a third place to wrap up a perfect title with a maximum score across all his heats that counted to the championship. That also booked KC’s Grand Final seat on the SA team. Erich Heystek put together a consistent performance through the day to take second from third race winner Nicolaos Vostanis, Jayden Goosen, Jonno Wilson, Brandon van der Walt, Ndzalo Khoza and Dhivyen Naidoo in yet another full Rotax Max field.

It was super close going into the under-13 Mini Max Finals, but Caleb Odendaal delivered a perfect four-win performance to take the day and the title. Caleb had already booked his Grand Final seat, so the race was for that championship second for the other Mini seat. Just six points separated second placed Aadam Kajee, an impressive William Marshall, Kent Swartz and fifth placed Kegan Martin overall on Sunday. Matthew Chiwara and Spice Mailula were close enough behind to be factors and karting lasses Georgia Lenaerts and Gianna Pascoal tied on points in 8th in a monster 20-kart field. It was Kajee who took that title second and the Grand Final seat by just a point from Swartz, Beaumont and Mingay.

Two seconds followed by a couple of wins were enough for Tayln Patel to take the under-11 Mini Max day from race 2 winner Rafael Da Silva, Cristian Verheul, Aiden Beaumont, Logan Billau, Emma Dowling and race 1 winner Matthew Shuttleworth, with Johan Nolte eighth. Da Silva however did enough to take the title and the ticket to represent South Africa at the Portugal Grand Finals in November by seven points from Patel, Beaumont, Dowling, Verheul and Nolte

Noah Cronje won two of the three baby Bambino wins but it was not enough to prevent Race 1 winner and three times second Brodi Dowling to take the day by a solitary point. That was never going to prevent son of former Rotax Max World Champion and multiple SA race, rally and cross-country champion Mark Cronje, Noah to clinch his maiden South African championship from Dowling and race 3 winner, and third in the championship, Diego Antunes. Championship fourth Ronaldo Koen was fourth on the day too, from Luhan de Wet, Callum du Toit, Adriaan Steyn and Jayden van der Merwe.

While all the South African champions have now been crowned, all three Rotax Max Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal championships are still all to play for. And the SA Team for those Grand Finals confirmed for Portimão from 19-26 November. One or more of Boyd, Liebenberg Brittz, Visser, Naidoo, Ensor Smith, Odendaal, Kajee and Da Silva, could very well return from Portugal as world champion. Adding to South Africa’s proud heritage at the illustrious ‘Olympics of Karting’.