The Clare Vale Racing Team hosted the 9th Charity Cheetah Karting Day at Zwartkop Karting Circuit on Sunday. This annual event is a highlight of the year for the team, giving us the opportunity to have some motorsport fun in aid of a really good cause.
When we first started racing, we wanted to find a “green” organisation to support in order to offset some of our environmentally unfriendly habits – racing V8 Supercars is about as far from “green” as you can go! Our friend, David Parry-Davies, is the publisher of the Enviropaedia, and we asked him to suggest an organisation which might be open to partnering with us.
After some thought, he suggested the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, near Hartebeespoort Dam. His reasoning was that cheetahs are fast, and the female cheetahs are the hunters and usually run faster than their mates – a perfect match for us, we thought.
Ann and her staff were a bit dubious when we first approached them – I think they were doubtful about the connection between our loud, fuel guzzling cars and their peaceful bushveld wildlife haven, but they were brave enough to agree, leading to a wonderful partnership spanning almost ten years.
The event features a number of corporate teams, racing in a 2 hour endurance karting race at Zwartkops. MCP Rental Karts at Zwartkops have supported us from the start, with Jeff Roon running the karting side strictly and ensuring everyone stays safe and has fun.
The event is super competitive for the top teams, most of whom have raced with us since our very first event. The winning team takes home the prized bronze cheetah floating trophy for the year, and first three teams home are usually split by one lap or less. However, the other teams push just as hard – many of the drivers are having their first experience of karting and it’s great to see how their laptimes improve during each session!
This year’s event has to be the best one yet. Fifteen teams took to the circuit, and with many of them from the automotive industry, pride was at stake and competition was fierce! Teams from Nissan SA, Jaguar Landrover and Suzuki SA were fighting it out with The Snake Pit (builders of Cobra cars). OEM Lubricants took on Liquimoly SA and there were on track battles between teams from Rex Diff & Gearbox, EV Dynamics, Conti-Tech SA, BESA Leadership Academy, and our very own Truck Man team.
Adding to the excitement were our media and celebrity drivers, including many cast members from 7de Laan. Actor David Rees has been a supporter since his Egoli days and it’s great to see the celebs just being themselves and having FUN!
After two physical, sweaty hours of racing, the well-deserved winner was the Nissan SA first team of Xavier Gobille, Max Gobille and Mehdi Mokrane. This was a special win for the Cheetah Centre, as Nissan SA recently became a supporter of the Centre and have made a massive contribution towards assisting their Cheetah outreach educational program.
In second place on the podium was the Nissan No 2 team, followed by the team from The Snake Pit. Fastest Lap went to Mehdi Mokrane. As always, prize-giving was made special by our MC, Roger McCleery. Roger has made time for us every year in his busy schedule, and it’s a privilege to have the Voice of Motorsport handing out the prizes. Finally, Yeats, the Ambassador cheetah, came to personally thank each and every entrant for helping to conserve our wonderful wildlife for us and for future generations.
We are extremely grateful to all the teams who entered this year. Nissan SA have been our main partners for two years running, and they pulled out all the stops to make Sunday’s Nissan SA Cheetah Karting Day special. With four teams entered and taking the naming rights for the day, their contribution was immense. Jaguar Landrover are also long term supporters, with two teams led by MD Brian Hastie taking part. Thanks to each and every team participating, we were able to raise a record amount of R70,000.00 from this year’s event!
Thanks to Marcel and Maggi Sigg from RunRideDive for their wonderful photographs and video footage capturing the spirit and the fun of the event, to Nissan SA, Jaguar Landrover SA, SA Hotrods magazine and Llumar for great prizes, and a big thank you to Playstation SA for helping to keep the spectators entertained.
Link to photo gallery