The most competitive South African motorsport series will be decided at Bridgestone Zwartkops International Kart Raceway in Pretoria this weekend (27-28 September), with the running of the 2003 South African ROTAX MAX Challenge karting finals. -

- In a completely new development, the ROTAX MAX Challenge this year is extended to include the younger age group in the World Final. Drivers from around the world between the ages of 13 and 17 years old participating in the series and using the Junior ROTAX MAX engine will have an opportunity of participating in a Junior ROTAX MAX World final! With Egypt hosting the Grand Final of the MAX Challenge at the new circuit in Sharm-El Sheik in January 2004, the competition has an added intensity. -

- At least four local drivers from both the ROTAX Max Challenge and Junior Max Challenge will qualify for fully-sponsored drives in the world-final event, which will see 96 drivers from 35 countries taking part in what is fast developing into the most successful karting series in the history of the sport. -

- The top four positions in the South African MAX series so far are held by drivers from four different regions. Natal’s Christiano Morgado heads the points log by a scant point over Port Elizabeth’s Michael Stephen and Gauteng’s Gavin Cronje, followed by Cape Town’s Leo Joos. -

- Filling the next two positions are reigning ROTAX Max world champion Mark Cronje from Gauteng and Cape Town’s David Perel. In tenth place, and the top female driver in the series, is Lola Young from KZN. -

- With the unique scoring formula of the ROTAX MAX Challenge, drivers score points throughout the season in their regional championships, counting their four best results out of five events. The drivers’ regional points are divided by four and then an additional point for each race appearance is added. -

- The final race at Bridgestone Zwartkops in Pretoria this weekend is the most important race of the season. The weekend’s events will see the first time in the season where karters from all four regions will compete against one another. -

- “This complex points scoring structure is just one reason for the success behind ROTAX MAX Challenge” says Ed Murray, organiser of the local series and the World Finals in 2003 at the new Bridgestone Zwartkops circuit. -

- “The other reasons are just as important. No engine modifications are allowed and the motors are all sealed throughout the season. Competitors all run on the same Bridgestone tyres. The only advantages are through chassis set-up and driver skill,” he added.-

- The ROTAX MAX series is particularly important to South Africa as the first three world final events held so far have all been won by South Africans. -

- In 2001 Gavin Cronje took the honours in South America, while in January 2002 Claudio Piazza-Musso won in Malaysia and Mark Cronje won the world title at Bridgestone Zwartkops, Pretoria this year. -

- Piazza-Musso has not competed in the ROTAX series this year, but Gavin and Mark Cronje will be going all-out to gain a place in the national team. Mercedes Benz saloon car star, Leeroy Poulter, is as always in the front bunch and a very real contender for this year’s title. -

- Mark currently lies 5th in the S.A. series, missing the first round of the series while notching up a win in his Toyota Off Road vehicle. But, thanks to the points structure he is only three points behind series leader Morgado and he could still win the South African title on the weekend. -

- South Africa’s top teenagers will be fighting for a position in the Junior MAX squad. Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Ralph Odendaal leads the pack followed closely by Andre van der Merwe from Gauteng. Cape Town’s top contender, Wiaan Swaart, is currently fourth with a good chance of taking overall honours. Gauteng stars Mathew Hodges, Laurent Calkoen and female star Fabienne Lanz are expected to be right up there. -

- The series also incorporates a MAX Masters championship for drivers over the age of 35, designed to encourage older karters back into a sport dominated world-wide by youngsters. The Masters drivers compete for their own title, but also compete in the overall Challenge. Thus, theoretically a Max driver over the age of 35 could win both titles. -

- Supporting events will include the Mini MAX class for young teenagers as well as the MAX 172 class for heavier and older drivers. 50cc Cadet and 60cc GP Juniors for the youngsters will also feature on the day. The 42 bhp gearbox karts will, as always, provide the high-speed spectacle! -

- With a field of 180 plus competitors Saturday, 27 September and Sunday, 28 September will be a kart racing festival! Gates open at 08h00. Entry adults R30,00 and children under 12 years free. Week-end ticket R40,00. -

- For further information and photographic on the ROTAX MAX CHALLENGE visit:www.kart.co.za-

- For more information contact Jeff van Roon on (012) 3740129.

Original article from Car