The pouring rain in the warmup and qualifying rounds on Saturday 8 May 2021 didn’t dampen the spirits or enthusiasm of the VW Squadra Corse Young Drivers competing in Round 3 of the ROTAX Regional Club Championship at Zwartkops Raceway.
The two Bambinos, Bophelo Molatlhegi and Omolemo Mfana started in positions 11 and 13 respectively. “Bophelo had a really good first race, climbing to fifth position. This is his best position at Zwartkops to date. Unfortunately, he slipped down to position 12 in the second race, giving him an overall 11th for the day’s racing. Omolemo is still building his confidence after his recent accident and managed a 13th in the second race and 12th overall for the day,” says Elijah Gumbi, owner and manager of the Squadra Corse team.
Karabo Malamela was in top form in the Junior Max category, achieving an overall third place for the day, despite this being the first time he had driven in wet conditions. “He started the day with a second place in the qualifying round, which he maintained in the first race and he was the only driver to finish on the lead lap. It’s a great pity he spun while he was pressuring Mohammed Walley in the tricky conditions. He lost out a few key positions at the end of the second race to come home in 4th. He managed third for most of his third race and had the position covered until he was punted off by a risky move by a fellow competitor that saw him unable to continue,” says Gumbi.
Teammate Ndzalo Khoza didn’t get a chance to set a qualifying time and started last, due to his personal battle to acclimatise to the track conditions. He finished with a respectable position in the second race and had a really good start in the last race, sitting in fifth, but sadly lost ground to two other drivers and achieved a seventh for that race. His final standing at the end of the racing day was 9th.
Jayden Goosen, who played a supporting role to Malamela and Khoza, had a bad start to the day, crashing his kart into the wall on the first lap of the qualifying round. “He was forced to battle on with a bent kart for the rest of the day, which handicapped him quite severely. Kudos to him, he tried his best under trying conditions,” says Gumbi.
“I have no doubt that the changeable track and weather conditions – from wet in the qualifiers and first race to dry in the second and third races – played havoc with the boys’ race craft, but overall they put in a satisfactory, and in some instances remarkable, performance,” adds Gumbi.
“In a very unfortunate incident, one of the other drivers was given a 10 place penalty and three-race observation for code of conduct after exhibiting unacceptable behaviour. We reinforce good behaviour with our drivers on a constant basis – we need to keep it clean, keep it real and treat everyone with respect,” says Gumbi.