There is an incredible amount of excitement and naturally some uncertainty since our announcement to join WOMZA. We feel that some perspective at this point will assist karters, teams, clubs etc to get a clearer picture of what is happening and why.
First: The decision to change to WOMZA and form Karting South Africa was not taken simply because we “did not want to share a race weekend with the other series”. Our decision was based on many more factors relating to where best we place our trust in the future of karting.
Whilst EMR Rotax is projected as a disruptor one only needs to look back to 2017 where MSA unilaterally told Rotax to go its own way because MSA/ROK and KZ were starting their own national and regional series. Interestingly MSA simultaneously sponsored a new class called “The MSA Academy” (now called OKJ) to go head-on with the extraordinarily successful (globally) Junior Max class that has run successfully here since 2004. History repeating itself – a decade earlier the Engen Supa karts split SA karting from 2007 to 2013. Rotax has worked hard throughout to make a success of its national weekends and preferred not to have the successful format disrupted once again.
Cost to the average karter is often forgotten and while forcing the two series to race together (on a very long weekend) seems great to reduce cost for the lucky few that can afford to participate in two national series. What about the majority who can only afford to participate in one series – an extra days’ accommodation, extremely limited practice, sitting out one day – this really does not work. WOMZA is also extremely conscious of cost and together with KSA we will make more sense out of this.
Second: We believe karters want and need stability – the one thing that one would expect from a governing body.
MSA and our detractors are not offering stability. In the past two decades, MSA has sanctioned 28 National Championship classes. Of that number, EMR Rotax introduced 9 classes - of which 8 of these still exist today (we replaced Maxterino with Micro and Mini Max with a generous trade-in program). Of the other 19 MSA sanctioned classes 4 exist today in the MSA/ROK/KZ2 series, so when added to the 8 Rotax classes in total only 43% of the classes introduced have survived.
There have been too many classes introduced by MSA over the years that come and go and in the process fragment karting – in our experience, new classes have always targeted competitors from existing classes to feed the newest addition and then further disrupting the sport as competitors are left with dust collecting assets after a class fails.
Do not underestimate the cost and the impact that each failed class has on the sport. KSA and EMR Rotax believes that stability in classes and formats will lead to progress in growth of the sport.
We felt so strongly about this that it was necessary for change to create stability.
Third: EMR Rotax has continuously sought to grow South Africa’s karting base and we will keep doing so.
Growing the Bambino class in the Rotax series is a recent example where we believe we have made an incredibly significant contribution. Virtually every competitor in Kid ROK, Mini ROK, Micro and Mini Max have come into karting via Bambino. We will continue to promote this along with our rookie test days.
In addition, EMR has demonstrated year on year commitment to junior level karting in delivering 4-5 Junior level World Finals tickets. There is no bigger prize in junior level karting and we will continue to contribute to South African karting with less disruption and unnecessary interference.
Whilst nice, karting’s problems cannot be fixed by short term offers of prize money (which are directly or indirectly funded by entry fees), or badges to be pinned to a blazer. Driver’s hard work, talent and success should be absolutely recognised, and this will certainly be the case with KSA & WOMZA but far more important is a healthy pitlane environment, a brand and format that is here to support countrywide and for the long term, and year on year stability and understanding of classes and formats so that the not insignificant investments in equipment are protected.
The Rotax Max Challenge is a product – not just a good engine or durable tyres but an experience and we aim to continue to improve and grow this going forward. Our decisions have always been made with the best interest of our customers in mind. We are confident in our decision and hope that you place your faith in us as you have for the past 2 decades.
There is room for a second series and the running of a non-Rotax class on a regional race and we hope that when the dust settles that ROK/KZ will also join WOMZA KSA along with rest of SA’s karters.
We, like everyone in all formats of karting, look forward to much enjoyment in 2021 and to the continued growth of our wonderful sport.
We hope that the above provides some clarity in respect to our decision and demonstrates our only positive intent.