Mark Cronje drove a storming race to win the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals at the Bridgestone Zwartkops International Raceway near Pretoria on Sunday. -

- The Roodepoort karter led from the start of the 30-lap final, initially being pressurized by Frenchman Sebastian Caranta. However, Caranta was disqualified after the event for using a non-specified spark plug in this international karting formula using identical Rotax 125 cc engines. -

- Cronje, driving his Toyota Birel, took the 2003 title from 67 other competitors, representing a total of 33 countries. -

- Second was Ian Parsons of Great Britain in his Tonykart, leading home former Rotax Max World title holder Claudio Piazza-Musso of South Africa in an Arrows. -

- The fourth, fifth and sixth places were taken by South African Michael Stephen (Engen CRG), Ireland’s Noel Brennan (Kosmic) and Ben Savage from Australia in an Arrows. -

- “After the Elimination heats I knew I had the speed to win, but I did not know if I could maintain a winning pace for the Final Race’s full 30-lap distance”. “Once I took the lead I was waiting for someone to come up and challenge me, but it never happened”. -

- It was the third year in succession that South Africans have won the International Rotax Max Karting World Championship. -

- In the 2001 event Gavin Cronje (brother of Mark) won in Puerto Rico, while Piazza-Musso took the laurels in Langkawi, Malaysia, last year. -

- In Sunday’s event, South Africa also won the team prize, followed by Switzerland and New Zealand, while Japan’s Kazunori Takahashi won the Masters’ category for drivers over 35. South Africa’s Rob Kellock, who placed ninth overall, was second in the Masters’ category in his first international karting event. -

- Top 10: -

- 1. Mark Cronje (SA) -

- 2. Ian Parsons (UK) -

- 3. Claudio Piazza-Musso (SA) -

- 4. Michael Stephen (SA) -

- 5. Noel Brenan (Ireland) -

- 6. Ben Savage (Australia) -

- 7. Karl Wilson (New Zealand) -

- 8. Kazunoni Takahashi (Japan) -

- 9. Rob Kellock (SA) -

- 10. Sami Taskinen (Finland) -

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Original article from Car