Grand Finals

Green & Gold flies high in Portuguese Max Grand Finals

South Africa’s top Rotax Max karters gave an excellent account for themselves against the best from around the world through a bruising 2022 ‘Olympics of Karting’ Grand Finals in Portimão, Portugal over the past week. Six drivers fought their way into the Finals of five of the classes on Saturday, following a week of world championship action at the Algarve kart track.

Grand Finals
Eugene Brittz

Consistent Brittz Eleventh in Master Grand Finals

South African champion KC Ensor Smith (top) delivered a consistent performance throughout the week to end up sixth in the world in the high school under 15 Junior Max Final. SA DD2 Masters champion Eugene Brittz was another to enjoy a steady performance to finish eleventh in his World Final.

SA DD2 runner up Joseph Oelz put in a fine come from behind performance to climb fifteen places to end 14th the premier DD2 gearbox class Final. African Open champion Bradley Liebenberg had led Oelz through the pack and was up to 14th when he was knocked off and tumbled to 27th. Brad fought back to 20th in Sunday’ s Final.

SA Micro Max champion Rafael Da Silva endured a crunching under-11 Final to end up 28th, while Moosa Kajee lost his tenth place in the new Rotax Max battery kart E20 Pre Final on a technicality.

Each Grand Finals driver was handed an identical brand new kart to prepare and practice a week before Saturday’s Finals. The competitive action started with qualifying and a three-heat mini championship on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Rotax Max
Bradley Liebenberg

Six SA Drivers Made the Rotax Max Grand Finals

Friday’s Pre Finals then cut the fields down to the 36 karts that would start each class Final on Saturday, with Ensor Smith, Brittz, Liebenberg, Oelz, Da Silva and Kajee making it through.

Of the drivers who did not make it through to Sunday’s action, Sebastian Boyd missed the cut after suffering engine trouble. Senior Max duo Shrien Naidoo and Karabo Malamelo, Junior Max lad Wian Boshoff Micro Max duo Caleb Odendaal and Aadam Kajee also dropped out in Saturday’s cut.

The South African team had arrived in Portugal somewhat on the back foot after missing the previous two Rotax Max Grand Finals due to Lockdown travel restrictions. Most other countries’ teams raced both of those events.

Grand Finals
Joseph Oelz

Two years away had its effects

That lack of continuity, and the resultant, perhaps less experienced Final team than usual, brought its challenges. Some drivers were caught out by heavy traffic and the timing of their runs in qualifying, which put them on the back foot throughout. Accidents and technical issues also affected Team SA’s 2022 Grand Final results.

The six that made it through to their Finals however showed great mettle to ensure that South Africa remains the most successful team in Rotax max Grand Finals history with 14 titles. Five of those belong to equal best performing driver in Grand Finals history, SA man Christian Morgado.

It starts all over again with a fresh South African Rotax Max Karting season through 2023. That will crown new national champions to represent the country in Green and gold this time next year. Bring it on!

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