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South African National Karting – VEREENIGING CROWNS SA KART CHAMPIONS

The 2016 South African Karting Nationals came to a thrilling head to at Vereeniging when six drivers were crowned champions at the Vereeniging Kart track on Saturday. Joshua Coertze came from behind to steal the Mini Rok title, Charl Visser held on to win the Maxterino title, Cameron O’Connor stole the Junior Max championship; Dino Stermin lifted a somewhat controversial Senior Max title and Bradley Liebenberg and Michael Stephen are the 2016 DD2 and DD2 Masters champions, subject to final MSA ratification.

Johannesburg youngster Bradley Liebenberg wrapped up his third SA DD2 championship on the trot in SA karting’s quickest gearbox class, adding the 2016 prize to his 2104 and 2015 gongs. Liebenberg, who is also making a name for himself in Polo Cup racing, reeled off three wins and a second race third place to win the day and cement his position as the King of DD2 as he booked his place at the Rotax Max World Finals in Italy in October. Liebenberg won six races in 2016 en route to his third DD2 title in a row.

Third on the day, second overall in DD2 and Masters winner; multiple SA Production Car champion Michael Stephen added yet another South African racing title to his name as he booked his ticket to the DD2 Masters World Final. Port Elizabeth driver Stephen was also second in the overall DD2 championship ahead of Durban lad Benjamin Habig, who took the second race win to clinch second on the day from Stephen. Fourth, fifth and sixth placed drivers on the day, Justin Allison, Jonny Thomas and Robert Whiting came home in those positions in the championship, with Masters vice-champion Nick Verheul seventh overall on the day.

Benoni lad Delon Thompson delivered a four brilliant race wins to turn the tables on Dino Stermin in the Senior Max 125cc championship, but a last race penalty turned the tables to see Stermin emerge as the provisional 2016 South African Senior Max champion. Thompson’s penalty also handed Jozi lady kart heroine Fabienne Lanz the class win for the day, one point ahead of Stellenbosch lad Delano Fowler.

That same one-point difference saw Lanz to second in the championship from Fowler. Stermin was third on the day from Joshua Dias, Thompson and another karting lass, Shannon Jackson, with Thompson, Dias and Jackson finishing fourth fifth and sixth in the 2016 SA Senior Max championship and Stermin headed for the World Finals in October. Thompson’s last race penalty certainly cost him dear – the Benoni driver won six races in 2016 to Stermin’s three, but the null race handed the title to the Durbanville lad.

The high school 125cc Junior Max gang was always going to fight for championship honours, with six drivers within twelve championship points heading into the Finals, but Johannesburg driver Cameron O’ Connor took no prisoners to win the first two races and wrest the championship lead from Camps Bay lad Sebastian Boyd. Cameron then kept Sebastian behind him in the final two races to take the title by 14 points.

Another Johannesburg driver, Blaine Rademeyer took the second two Junior Max races on Saturday to tie on points with O’Connor for the day’s win as he jumped from sixth to third in the championship at the expense of Mozambican Carl Pitzer and Ballito lad Daniel Duminy. O’Connor won six races through the season to Boyd’s four to take the South African Junior Max title and book his ticket to the World Finals in October.

There was always going to be tears in the two primary school karting classes, where Kyalami lightie Kwanda Mokoena and Cape Town kid Charl Visser went into the Maxterino 60cc title on even points, but Visser’s better points drop scenario required him to win one race, which he did in the second heat. From there Charl looked on as Kwanda raced to three race wins, but Visser beat Mokoena to the title by all of 0.25 points.

That was in spite of Kwanda winning seven races through the season to Charl’s three, but the Cape diver’s consistency in scoring podiums did the trick in the end. Cape quartet Troy Dolinschek, Joseph Oelz, Tate Bishop and Kai van Zijl filled out the SA national Maxterino championship top six.

Visser and Mokoena also led the Mini Rok 60cc title heading into the Vereeniging finale, but Port Elizabeth kid Joshua Coertze had other ideas as he came from behind to win a race and take two third paces to beat Mokoena to the title by a solitary point after Kwanda dropped out of the final heat and Visser struggled for pace.

None of them could quite match the Mini Rok winner on the day as Saood Variyawa took overall honours with a pair of wins and a second, but he was unable to topple Jayden Els and Daniele Patrizi from fourth and fifth in the title chase, with the three of them split by three points at the end of it. Coertze and Visser won three of the twelve championship races through the year with Mokoena and Variyawa taking two apiece.

Four of the South African champions crowned on Saturday — Bradley Liebenberg, Michael Stephen, Dino Stermin and Cameron O’Connor will now represent South Africa at the Rotax Max World Finals in Italy in October. They will be joined by the winners in their respective DD2, Masters, Senior and Junior Max classes at the forthcoming wildcard African Open at Zwartkops.

Two Cape Town drivers – Stermin and Visser, two Gauteng drivers – Liebenberg and O’Connor and two Port Elizabeth drivers, Stephen and Coertze shared the six 2016 South African Karting crowns.