In his first-ever race in the OKJ category, 12-year-old Lwandle Pule achieved an admirable third place in the ROK Cup Northern Regions Regional Championship Round 1 held at the Vereeniging Kart Circuit on 27 February 2021.
This rookie driver, from Kyalami in Johannesburg, was the highest ranking Squadra Corse Racing driver, racing under the Privateer Programme. “Lwandle was extremely excited to receive his first medal and says it’s easily the most exciting moment of his life. He has his sights set on a visit to the podium once again at the season’s first national event, which will take place at Cape Town’s Killarney Kart Circuit on 11-13 March,” says Elijah Gumbi, owner and manager of the Squadra Corse team.
Pule was joined by Squadra Corse teammates running under the Performantè Programme (a category for drivers looking for international success). Enzo Rujugiro (10), Ntiyiso Mabunda (11) and Mahlori Mabunda (12) are all racing in their first Mini ROK season.
Rujugiro’s time improved by 3 seconds following an exhibition race in November last year that was used to check his competitiveness. The Mabunda brothers achieved 19th and 20th places in a field of 22 karts in the same teaser race after switching to Mini ROK from their Rotax machinery. In Saturday’s race each of the Mabunda boys showed just how well they have progressed by having a front row start in different heats.
Mahlori Mabunda had pole position for Heat Two as a result of achieving the fastest lap in Heat One. He finished 5th overall and Rujugiro finished 6th overall in a fairly competitive 16-kart field.
“It’s extremely gratifying to watch the development of these young drivers as their confidence and skills levels increase over time. They are exposed to intensive training and receive targeted mentorship through Squadra Corse’s resources, all geared around encouraging a winning mentality,” says Gumbi.