A welcome rationalization of classes sees a new look to the first National Karting Championship meeting of 2016, which takes place at  Cape Town’s  Killarney Kart Circuit on April 2.

Three classes have been dropped for the official MSA championships, these being Junior Rok, Super Rok and the X30 Shifter classes.

The result is that for 2016 classes are Maxterino, Mini Rok, Junior Max, Senior Max and DD2/DD2 Masters. This should see stronger fields in the senior classes, and race days that are better-paced, as with the previous system it was extremely difficult to package so many classes into one day’s racing.

Cape Town is extremely strong in the junior classes, especially in the Maxterino series for drivers aged between eight and 13-years-old. So visiting drivers from Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape will have their work cut out to be on the pace.

The Cape trio of Joseph Oelz, Charl Visser and Troy Dolinschek are extremely strong on their home circuit and likely to qualify within a few 1000ths of a second of each other, at the sharp end of the grid. But it would be unwise to ignore challenges from Aqil Alibhai, Anthony Pretorius and Jordan Brooks, up-country racers who have already shown great form this season.

In the Mini Rok class, which caters to the same age-group as the Maxterino series, it is likely to be an all-Gauteng show. Here the youngsters to watch are Kwanda Mokoena, Joshua Coetzee, Jayden Els, Saood Variawa and Cameron Dias.

In Junior Max it will be interesting to see how quickly graduates who were highly competitive in Maxterino and Mini Rok in 2015 will fare in this much more powerful 125 cc class. Notable amongst these is Aidan Strydom, who will be in his first season in this class for drivers aged 13-to16-years-old.

Another is Blaine Rademeyer.

From Mozambique, Karl Pitzer is expected to be quick, as he won the first regional race in Gauteng a month ago, while Cameron O’Connor is also expected to fly.

Locals Joshua Coetzee, Sebastian Boyd and Dan Lochoff will have home-circuit advantage, with Daniel Duminy from KZN and Luca Munaretto from Vereeniging being wild cards for a win.

In Senior Max, a class for drivers 15-years and older, a youngster  to watch is last year’s Junior Max champ, Dino Stermin. This Cape driver and his “compatriot” Delano Fowler are said to be flying at Killarney in 2016, while Gauteng challengers will be Fabienne Lanz, Delon Thompson and Joshua Dias. East London’s Shannon Jackson is also very quick, as is fellow-lady driver Ivana Cetinich.

A name missing from the karting action in 2016 is Jonathan Aberdein, the 2015 Senior Max champion. Jonathan has set his sights on Formula 4 international single seat racing this year and all karters will wish him well as he steps up yet another motor-sporting gear.

In 2016 the top gearbox National class, DD2 sees both the senior drivers (15-years-old and older) and the Masters (32-years-old and older) compete to the same weight limit, whereas previously the Masters ran to a limit 8 kg heavier than the younger drivers. As shown by early club and regional races this year, some of the “old-timers” are proving very competitive against the youngsters.

Chief amongst these “oldies” is Michael Stephen, multiple SA Production car champ who oh-so-nearly won the Masters category at Rotax Grand finals in Portugal last year, leading for 18 laps before being punted out.

Cape drivers who are expected to be strong here include Luke Herring, Julian van der Watt and Jurie Swart, all competitors who have excelled in the junior ranks. Luke Herring, a multiple SA karting champion, is likely to be super-strong on his home circuit, while Jonathon Thomas is another Cape runner who could find himself right at the front of the grid after qualifying. Van der Watt, incidentally was a Formula Ford runner up in that championship last year!

If recent form is an indication, Gauteng’s Rachelle du Plessis and Justin Alison from Bloemfontein will be on the pace, while in the Masters division, Marouan Selmi, Ronnie Baptista and Nick Verheul and have all shown great form.

From KZN Benjamin Habig is expecting to challenge strongly again for the title, as is masters competitor Jonathan Pieterse. And Robert Whiting is another who, on his day, is equally capable of winning this fastest, and most-competitive class in SA karting. Fields for this halo formula of SA karting are now approaching 30 karts, indicating that karting is one of the go-to formulae in SA motorsport.