The 1st Round of the South African National Karting Championship took place at KZN’s majestic iDube Raceway this past weekend and in true fashion, drama was the order of the day. A wet track greeted the national drivers on Saturday morning with no real glimpse of a dry race throughout the day.
It was, however, bone dry the day before where young Joseph Oelz placed his no.463 Fernando Alonso Kart on a quite superb pole position. A 3 lap shootout was all the drivers had to lay down the perfect lap, and that’s precisely what Oelz did. Not missing one apex he delivered on his final run to pip fellow FA Kart rival Charl Visser to pole. Not long after qualifying concluded the heavens opened up and it stayed that way for pretty much the rest of the race weekend.
With varying conditions, Saturday’s races were always going to be a calculated gamble. Oelz opted for wet tyre’s in what started out as a completely wet race. As pole sitter, naturally, the majority of the field followed his lead, but a huge gamble from mid pack runners Jarrod Waberski and Zaeem Goolam payed dividends as the track dried rapidly in the latter part of the race and Joseph had to settle for P3 effectively being the first driver home on the wet tyre’s.
Race 2 wasn’t very different. Again, as the wet weather loomed, most drivers opted for wets including Oelz. Again the track dried up, this time much sooner than in race 1 and it would mean that he struggled to the finish line with his wet tyre’s completely shredded due to the dry track. A 3rd place being all that was possible behind Waberski and Kwanda Mokoena, who had opted to risk it for the biscuit and start the race on slicks.
Race 3 to put it mildly was a complete disaster for young Joseph. After showing blistering pace in the dry Friday practice sessions, he finally had the chance to stamp his authority as the fastest man on the grid but it wasn’t to be. After starting the race in P5, he quickly showed he had the pace to take the win and potentially the overall victory on the day, but a mechanical failure on the kart meant he found himself in retirement after only 3 laps. A difficult end to the day, but some decent points bagged in a drama filled round 1.
“Joseph had the pace this weekend, but the gambles paid off for some of the other drivers and as a father and son due with no external assistance I feel we fared quite well. Unfortunately, we had a failure in race 3 which effectively ended our chances of a podium finish, but we will go back to the drawing board to see how we can improve and come back stronger later in the year” mentioned a frustrated father Alex after the day’s antics.
Joseph returns to regional duties this weekend at his home track Killarney where he will be out to cement his lead in the WP Rotax Junior Max Championship.