The weekend of 11 September was a jubilant one for the Squadra Corse team as they brought home the 2021 National Championship titles in the final round of the ROK National Championships in Vereeniging. Keagan Masters carried the banner for the team in the MSA KZ2 Category and 13-year-old Luviwe Sambudla did the honours as National Champion in the Mini ROK category.
“These are stellar performances from both Keagan and Luviwe and we are exceptionally proud of them. This has been an unusual year for motorsport, with the constant changes from one lockdown level to another impacting on practice dates and times. So to have achieved two National Championships out of the four categories in which we compete is a huge and extremely noteworthy feat,” says Mpho Eli Gumbi, owner and team principal of the Squadra Corse team.
Gumbi says that Sambudla has been on a comprehensive driver excellence trajectory over the past year and this is definitely evidenced in his consistent improvement from one race to the next. “His head has definitely been in the game and he has focused his energies on winning the championships and preparing himself for next year’s international race circuit. I have no doubt in my mind that, given his development in recent months and his ability to apply the practical knowledge he has gained from his local and international mentors, he is ready for this next challenge in his driving career.”
Masters, with 13 years of motorsport racing under his belt, has not only been one of Sambudla’s mentors but has also found the time to hone his already-excellent driver skills to bring home this recent title – his fifth South African Championship.
In the Mini ROK category, Sambudla was joined by brothers Ntiyiso and Mahlori Mabundla. Luviwe missed qualifying pole by milliseconds, while Mahlori qualified fifth and Ntiyiso qualified in second. On Saturday Luviwe led the race for four laps and came in second. He only needed to remain in the top three position for the day in order to secure the Championship title, since he was leading by 30 points at the start of the day, so he successfully finished each race comfortably and safely. Ntiyiso led one of the races for a couple of corners and was definitely showing race pace but he couldn’t get into a comfortable rhythm to dictate the race.
In OKJ, Lwandle Pule managed to qualify in his best position yet – a fifth. “In Heat 1 he finished third and showed good pace over all three races, finishing in the top three. However, it was evident that he needs to improve his fitness in order to move up the ranks, something that we will concentrate on in the coming months,” says Gumbi.
“Roman de Beer and Keagan are sublime drivers. In the first heat of the KZ2, they hunted down Fabian Lance, which was absolutely awesome to see. This was a very close race, with Keagan finishing in second place and Roman in third. Going into the next heat, Keagan led start to finish and although he did not finish the third heat due to technical difficulties in the last lap, he walked away with the championship title,” says Gumbi.
“We would like to thank our loyal sponsors and all those who had a hand in helping the team to achieve two National wins for us. Every single person involved is critical to our success and we are extremely appreciative of their ongoing support,” says Gumbi.