- The East Rand 12-year-old wins the Rotax Mini Max World Championship at Sarno, Italy, on Saturday, October 22, 2016
- Jayden’s triumph is the 13th World Karting Championship by a South African driver in the Rotax Grand Finals, run since 2000.
- Over 360 karters from over 50 countries took part in this year’s Grand Finals, most of them champions or vice-champions from their respective countries.
Jayden Els, a Grade Six learner at Laesrskool Baanbreker in Boksburg, won the Mini Max category in the 2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Italy on Saturday, October 22, 2016.
The twelve-year-old was part of a 13-driver South African team that competed at the Sarno circuit in Italy in this 17th edition of this World Championship event.
Rotax karting is the most competitive series in the world, as all 360 drivers taking part from over 50 countries have to qualify for the event in their respective countries. The event is run over six days each year in a different country around the world. Jayden earned his race seat in Italy by winning the Rotax Africa Open Mini Max category in Pretoria in July this year, for drivers aged 9-12 years old.
Jayden’s drive in the Finals on Saturday was a masterclass in race craft. Having qualified for the finals in 12th position, he raced in the pre-final to place in 10th position on the grid for the finals.
As the flag dropped, Jayden made a brilliant start and by the end of Lap One he was up to fifth place. He then consecutively picked off the front runners ahead so that by half distance he was leading.
It then looked like a straightforward drive to the finish for the 12-year-old from Boksburg, as he initially drew away up front, but the pack was closing, thanks to the slip-steaming top-speed benefit of a bunch of karts running nose-to-tail. And with just over a lap to go he found himself demoted to third!
But at the start of the final lap he read the race brilliantly in front of him, taking a tighter line onto the back straight and he was back in front, holding his re-gained lead for the final lap to the finish.
Jayden finished just nine-tenths of a second ahead of second-placed Thomas Nepveu from Canada, with Luka Nurmi of Finland third, Victor Bernier of France fourth, Ziggy Kermanshahchi from UAE fifth and Arias Deukmedjian of the USA rounding out the top six.
“I would like to dedicate this victory to my grandfather,” said Jayden, who is also on the public speaking team at his school, and numbers among his sports and interests chess, rugby, cricket and golf. Jayden’s grandfather recently passed away, and Jayden said he knew his grandfather “was watching” as he took the chequered flag.
For more information on Rotax karting, go to www.kart.co.za