Motoring News, motorsport

SA Kart team heads for Italy Rotax Challenge finals

  • SA team heading for Europe karting finals
  • All ages, both sexes – SA champions all
  • Toughest karting championship on Earth
ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Image: Supplied
ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Fabienne Lanz will be racing in Italy in the DD2 category. She’s from a motorsport family – her father Peter was an SA saloon car champion. Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A 13-strong South African team is about to fly to Sarno, Italy, for the 17th international Rotax Max Challenge finals – the toughest karting competition on Earth.

The South African drivers will compete against 360 drivers from 50 countries in six categories – all of whom will have qualified for the event in their respective countries – and the standard of driving is acknowledged as the best in the world.

The pressure will be on competitors from the moment they land in Sarno, near Naples. Familiarisation track time will be minimal ahead of qualifying and elimination races for the finals on Saturday October 22.

ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Image: Supplied
ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Richard Fuller and his son Reece. Image: Supplied

South African Rotax importer Ed Murray will accompany the team to Italy. He told The Corner in a media release: “We have a large team this year – a good mix of experience and young talent – and a huge legacy to live up to.

“Since the first event in Puerto Rico in 2000 South Africans have won 12 World titles. In Spain in 2014 we won the Nations Cup!”

ABSOLUTE PARITY OF MACHINES

The event will start this Saturday, October 15, with registration at the Naples International Circuit ahead of pre-event functions. The following day the draw for karts and equipment will happen: unique to any other World racing series, each driver will be presented with a brand-new kart chassis and engine, tyres, fuel, kart trolley and tools.

This enables absolute parity of equipment: each kart will be checked for legality after each on-track session.

Unofficial practice will be on Monday and Tuesday, October 17/18, with karters in each category allowed only two 15-minute sessions. Qualifying will be on Wednesday October 19 after each driver has had a 10-minute practice.

The elimination heats will be on Thursday October 20, pre-final races the following day. On Saturday October 22 the finals will be run from 10am SA time and can be  live-streamed through rotax.com  .

The 2016 South African Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals team is made up of:

Joshua de Paiva, Micro Max Category, ages 7-10. Age nine but has been competing in karting since age four! He won the Micro Max category in the 2016 African Open at Zwartkops and he is second in the regional Maxterino series for drivers 8-13.

JOSHUA DE PAIVA: Image: Supplied
JOSHUA DE PAIVA: Image: Supplied

In 2015 he represented Portugal (dual citizenship) in a non-championship Micro Max race at the Grand Finals so has international experience. He also swims for his school, St Peters in Gauteng Grade 3, and runs cross-country.

Josh says: “I’m looking forward to the 2016 Grand Final because Rotax makes me feel like a Formula 1 driver or a rock star. I feel special and proud to represent my country AND I even get my own umbrella girl!”

Jayden Els, Mini Max Category, ages 9-12. Age 12 and from Boksburg, Gauteng. Karting since seven and he secured his place in this year’s Grand Finals by winning the Mini Max class at the 2016 African Open meeting at Zwartkops.

ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Image: Supplied
ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Jayden Els. Image: Supplied

Past karting successes: second in Cadet championship 2012, third place in SA Mini Rok class 2015; 15th in World Rok finals in Italy 2015. He plays rugby for Laerskool Baanbreker in Boksburg.and enjoys golf, tennis and chess.

Jayden said: “I’am looking forward to the 2016 Rotax Grand Finals because I’ve worked hard for it and I’m in it to win it!”

Cameron O’Connor, Junior Max Category, ages 13-16. Age 14. 2016 SA Junior Max champion, karting for four years. Won 2014 Mini Rok Gauteng Region championship, 2015 South African Maxterino championship. He attends Real Me private school in Edenvale in Grade 8. Other interests include tennis, squash and gym.

Cameron said: “I’m proud to be representing South Africa and racing against the best karters in the world. I’m looking forward to a bright future in racing!”

Delon Thompson, Senior Max Challenge Category. Age 16. From Farramere, Benoni. Started karting at 11 in Rok categories. Won regional titles and earned Junior Driver of Year award.Moved to Rotax series in 2015. In 2015 he was second in the Junior Max Nationals and won the Northern Regions championship. Victor Ludorum in Northern Regions.

In 2016 won Senior Max Challenge title and tested successfully for Van der Linde race team to compete in Polo Cup on main circuits in 2017. Plays soccer, squash and goes mountain biking. Attends St Dunstan’s College in Grade 10. Top 10 student in Academics.

Delon said: “I’ve worked extremely hard in my karting career to achieve the Grand Finals. I’m looking forward to competing against the best in the world.”

Luca Munaretto, DD2 Category: Age 14. Karting seriously for 4 years. This year advised by mentor Wesleigh Orr, a Rotax World champion, to enter DD2 class despite age. Finished second in African Open DD2 to earn place in 2016 Grand Finals.

LUCA MUNARETTO: Image: Supplied
LUCA MUNARETTO: Image: Supplied

Has competed in Junior Max Winter Cup in Valencia, Spain. Finished 13th. Enjoys mountain-biking; plays hockey, tennis, and swims for CBC Boksburg school team.

Luca said: “I’m looking forward to the Grand Finals – this event is known to be very fair so it comes down to driving ability.”

Justin Allison, DD2 Category: No age listed. Allison is something a karting veteran – started in 2001, raced in Rotax Max series since 2005 and in 2007, his first full season in the Rotax DD2 series, was third in the SA championship. In 2008 second in both championships. Also competed internationally at 2009 Rotax Euro Challenge in Spain – fifth in Round 1. In 2015 won SA Northern Regions DD2 chhampionship.

‘Heavily involved’ in cricket, avid PC gamer. Lives in Bloemfontein, works in the family business.

He said: “I feel this opportunity has come about seven years later than I would have liked but I intend to take it with both hands.”

Ivana Cetinich, DD2 Category: Age 20. BCom Law student at University of Pretoria. She started karting age 15 in Junior Max at Regional and National level in 2012. In 2014 moved to DD2, in 2015 to Senior Max Challenge; second in Northern Regions championship, sixth in Nationals.

ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Image: Supplied
ROTAX KARTS GRAND FINALS: Ivana Cetinich. Image: Supplied

Competed in 2016 in female four-stroke enduro championship in Dubai and Round 1 of Florida Winter Tour in the US. Second in 2016 Africa Open to qualify for Grand Finals in Italy. Enjoys gym “and time with friends”.

She said: “I’m looking forward to the Grand Finals – it will be a memorable event, a great learning experience – and I’m especially looking forward to Italian food!”

Fabienne Lanz, DD2 Category: No age given. In motorsport family (father Peter former SA saloon car champion. Has raced cars and karts; currently leading 2016 Northern Regions Senior Max championship, second in 2012 African Open. Three times second in SA National Max Challenge.

Extensive overseas racing experience though not Sarno. International successes: first women on podium (5th) at 2007 World Rok finals; won in UAE Senior Max.

Karting is Lanz’s life; runs team of 25 young karters.

She said: “Growing the sport is the aim,” she says. Going into the Grand Finals is exciting and a bit nerve-tingling – there are only five sessions to get in the groove but I’m at my best under pressure!”

Jonathan Pieterse, DD2 Masters Category: No age given. Karting career started 23 years ago. Began racing at 11 and won many South African races, including what was then Natal championship. Took 10-year break to established automotive repair business in Pinetown, KZN..

Raced in 2003 Egypt Grand Finals for SA.

He said: “That was the highlight of my career, as well as being chosen to represent South Africa now for Italy Masters category.”

Eugene Brittz, DD2 Catgeory: No age given. Another karter from a motorsport background: father Charles a successful Nissan saloon car ace in 1980’s. Eugene has had long and illustrious career in karting, a highlight 2011 as SA DD2 champion. Qualified second that year at Grand Finals but crashed in race.

EUGENE BRITTZ: Image: Supplied
EUGENE BRITTZ: Image: Supplied

From 2012-15 racked up string of second and third places in SA DD2 Championship, in 2014 fourth in US Rotax PanAm championship; fourth again in the 2015 US Open championship in Las Vegas – which earned him a place in the 2016 Grand Finals.

He said: “I had decided to take a break in 2016 then came a slot in the Grand Finals so I had to lose 12kg in 40 days! In the last few weeks I’ve been doing as many laps as possible – and hoping all the hard work will pay off!”

Nick Verheul, DD2 Masters Category: No age given. Veteran karter, having started in 2004. Competed in Senior Max Challenge for four years, moved to DD2 gearbox class and stayed. Best result win in 2016 Africa Open DD2 Masters, which earned seat in Grand Finals. Also qualified on three occasions, competing in Portugal in DD2.

In 2012 second in National DD2, second in 2013 Africa and DD2 Masters in this year’s SA championships. Second in 2015 Africa Open Masters.

He said: “My goal this year is to finish in the top 10. I’d love to win the Final, like so many SA drivers have done in the past!”

Richard Fuller, DD2 Masters Category: No age given. Fuller a surprise entry for Italy after only a few DD2 races. Second in Rotax African Open to earn Grand Finals seat. Raced competitively in 100cc air-cooled classes 20 years ago.

When eight-year-old son Reece decided to start karting Fuller reckoned it was time to start karting again; is odds-on favourite to win SA GP125 class.

Runs scooter dealership in Fourway, Johannesburg.

He said: “It was a great opportunity for me at the Africa Open. I loved the DD2 class so much that I will be entering the DD2 Nationals in 2017 but for now I want to do my best in Italy.”

Joshua Dias, Senior Max Challenge Category: Aged 15. Dias has been karting since 2012. Notched up a number of successes, including currently lying second in the Northern Regions Senior Max Challenge. Fifth in 2016 SARMC Senior Max Nationals.

JOSHUA DIAS: Image: Supplied
JOSHUA DIAS: Image: Supplied

In 2015 was third in Junior Max Nationals.

Joshua is in Grade 9 at Henley High – the family lives in Vereeniging.

He said: “Mys seat in the Grand Finals was totally unexpected. My entry came at the last minute so I’m just going to enjoy this awesome opportunity!”

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