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The combined third round of the SA Rotax Max Challenge and the second running of the African Open Karting Championship at Idube Raceway in KwaZulu-Natal, has drawn a huge entry.
No less than 32 names are down for just one class - the Rotax DD2 Gearbox class, one of the fastest kart racing classes in the country at present.
Rotax series founder Ed Murray said: “We are absolutely overawed -0 this is the biggest karting entry we've had for years.
“The 32-strong field for DD2 is amazing, and we have 18 entries for Junior Max, 15 entries for Senior Max and a heart-warming 17 entries for Maxterino, the junior division that nurtures tomorrow's motorsport stars.
Initially, plans were well advanced to host this year's African Open in Mozambique, but all the suitable dates clashed with major events in Mozambique, causing hotel accommodation problems, so the organisers went back again to the tight, demanding Idube circuit in Camperdown, an hour's drive outside Durban, and this year's African Open will again be held on the Sunday, after the Round 3 of the SA Rotax Max Challenge.
The National meeting will start with practice on Thursday (August 9, a public holiday), with qualifying on Friday and racing on Saturday.
Jennifer Verheul, a representative of Rotax Max in South Africa, said: “The visiting drivers will no doubt take advantage of being able to practice with the locals on Thursday and Friday, and also enter the races.
“They won't score any championship points in the SA series, but the experience will be invaluable.”
Indeed, last year's visitors were notably quicker at the end of the weekend, and this year's African Open could see them vying for top-10 positions with the vastly more experienced South African drivers.
One of the major draw-cards of the Africa Open is that the winners of the Junior Max (for drivers aged between 13-16), Senior Max (15-plus years), DD2 Gearbox (15-plus years) and DD2 Masters (32 years and older) classes will be invited to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, effectively the world championship for what is by far the most popular karting series in the world.
They will join the winners of these categories in the South African Rotax Max series, among 260 entries from 60 countries, at the end of November at a brand-new, R100-million karting circuit on the Algarve, in Portugal.
In 2011 Durban driver Cristiano Morgado entered the DD2 Masters category of the African Open with little or no preparation after a long layoff from competitive karting. He won the African Open DD2 category and went on to become World Champion at the 2011 Grand Final in the United Arab Emirates!