That’s the eccentric scene-setter for Round Three of the 2017 SA Rotax Max Challenge National Karting Championship, which will be run at the notoriously tricky Idube kart circuit located near the Lion Park, just outside Pietermaritzburg.
“The thing about Idube is that you need huge bottom-end power and corner exit speed to haul you up the hill from the bottom of the track. But then you need super top-end rev-ability too, because the downhill sections are ultra-quick,” says Rotax South African distributor Ed Murray.
“The trick is finding that balance in engine and kart set-up, not to mention driving technique, and this is where the local aces come into play at Idube.”
One of those local aces is Benjamin Habig, who has been a front-runner in the Rotax DD2 class for some time now. Benjamin’s father Jan Habig, known to SA motorsport fans as a multiple rally champion, is also the new owner of the Idube Kart Raceway, so it is not surprising that young Banjamin knows every slight nuance of this venue which also places a premium on driver skills with its fast sweeps and hairpins.
After the two preceding rounds of the 2017 SA Karting Championship, the DD2 class is lead by reigning champ Bradley Liebenberg from Lonehill, Gauteng. Liebenberg has also been enjoying huge success behind the wheel of a Mini in the GTC 2 Touring Car series, the premier main-circuit racing series in South Africa this year. Hot on Bradley’s wheel-tracks in the DD2 karting championship is Julian van der Watt from Cape Town, who is a front-runner in Formula Ford this year. Both these drivers proving that karting is the ideal school for budding driver talent!
In fact, the top four championship spots in DD2 reads like a list of motorsport legends in South Africa. In third place, and also leading the DD2 Masters category, is multiple SA Touring Car Champion Michael Stephen, who is also Audi’s lead driver in GTC. And just behind Michael is Leeroy Poulter, a multiple circuit and off-road champion who competes for Toyota in the Dakar Rally!
Cape youngster Jurie Swart has also been in the leading DD2 pack so far in 2017, while a young lady driver who has shown surprising speed is Pretoria’s Ivana Cetinich. Ivana, a law student, lies sixth behind Swart in the DD2 class. Another driver to look out for at Idube is Fabienne Lanz, who was very quick at Round Two in Cape Town. And Bloemfontein’s Justin Allison always goes well at Idube.
In DD2 Masters, (for drivers aged 32 and over) Michael Stephen leads the title chase from Poulter, with KZN’s Jonathan Pieterse in third and also looking to put local knowledge to best use at Idube.
Senior Max Challenge has been a dog-fight this season between two Western Province-based drivers, Dino Stermin and Jurie Swart. A scant two pints separates these two at the top of the championship table, with Gauteng’s Cameron O’Connor in third place. O’Connor is another young karter who is fast moving up the ladder, and he is also gaining valuable experience in DD2 this year.
Luke Herring from Cape Town is in fourth place, ahead of KZN’s Daniel Duminy and Gauteng’s Tiago Rebelo.
Junior Max Challenge, for drivers aged 12-15 years-old, has produced some of the best motor racing in the country this year, regardless of racing category! Young Western Province driver Jason Coetzee leads the title challenge from fellow Cape driver Charl Visser and both are super-hungry for success. But a dark horse here is KZN driver Dominic Lincoln who has grown up racing at Idube and currently lies fourth in the series just behind the equally-talented Blaine Rademeyer from Gauteng. Sebastian Boyd is another known race winner, while Cameron Dias has been a real surprise speed- package in this, her first season in Junior Max.
Leyton Fourie of Gauteng was dominant in Minix Max (drivers aged 10-13) at the opening 2017 round in Vereeniging, while in Round Two it was WP’s Kai van Zyl who led the way in Cape Town. Tate Bishop will be another WP contender, as will relative newcomer from Cape Town Sibo Solomon, with Gauteng’s Daniel de Paiva and Aqil Alibhai also expected to go well at Idube.
Micro Max, for drivers aged 7-11, is currently headed by the determined Muhammed Wally, ahead of Josh de Paiva and a trio of WP drivers, Reeza Levy, Valentino Hoffman and Joaquin de Oliveira.
In the Maxterino class, which has been enjoying strong entries in 2017, yet another Cape driver in the form of Troy Dolischek leads the way from fellow Capetonian Tate Bishop. Aqil Alibhai holds third position ahead of Jordan Brooks and Muhammed Wally.
The Four-Round SA Rotax Max Challenge National Karting Championship 2017 will see the final round hosted at Zwartkops Kart raceway on September 24. Another vitally important fixture on the Rotax calendar in the coming months is the Africa Open Championship event on August 20.
The winners of the SA championships in various classes and in the one-day Africa Open, are in line to win a grid slot at the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal in early November.