Langebaanweg triumph!

AFB Langebaanweg repeated their 2021 victory in the annual West Coast Military Unit Kart Challenge when Major Shane Jeffries took the chequered flag at the Killarney International Raceway on Wednesday 13 April 2022 to secure a second consecutive West Coast Military King of Karts title, but, this time the margin of victory was a mere 2.516 seconds after 54 laps of the 1002m circuit.

Incredibly early morning indications was that the day would start wet, but the morning mist cleared as the 64 members enjoyed morning coffee at the Karting Café. Brig Gen A.J. “Cassie” de Castro, Commandant of the Military Academy Saldanha, welcomed the 64 members, representing Military Academy Saldanha, AFB Langebaanweg, 4 Special Forces Regiment Langebaan and SAS Saldanha.  Brad Wadeley (Kartsport) introduced everyone to the EMR 270cc karts with a brief Safety and Flag presentation.

For some this was truly stepping out of their comfort zone and with no practice it was straight into the hot seat, but, everyone was raring to go. In fact possibly a little too keen as the concept of cold slick tyres and limited traction soon introduced another new experience to many when they rotated into the scenery. Not quite the spinning concept they had anticipated, but if anything it just made everyone more determined and the vibe in the pit area was really quite impressive.

The various techniques applied to change drivers was something to behold, but somehow no arms were ripped off and nobody got run over. The medical crew in attendance simply enjoying the madness. The wannebe Hamilton’s also discovered that driving these little karts equals a good gym workout in physical nature, but the smiles after each session behind the wheel confirmed a memorable experience.

After two hours the results would show SAS Saldanha on top of the scoresheet with 91 laps completed by Kart No 4 followed by the No 12 entry of 4 Special Forces Regiment and the No1 AFB Langebaanweg team. Brig Gen A.J. “Cassie” de Castro introduced everyone to a new layout of the circuit on the opening lap to see Kart 9 home in an eventual fourth for the Military Academy Saldanha.

There were more than one rotation amongst the competitors but the damaged ego’s had to mend quickly as unit pride and the next lap demanded intense concentration. One kart even sported a puncture, but clearly everyone was enjoying themselves. Having herself spun S Lt Judy Baadjies, PRO for SAS Saldanha, said she had never had more fun in her life!

The SAS members really getting behind their drivers with audible support throughout the day. With everyone now more comfortable with their driving experience and understanding of the EMR Karts each team captain selected the fastest seven members for their respective team to contest the 2nd West Coast Military King of Karts final over one hour.

And what a final did this turn out to be! Lapping consistently it was clear that everyone brought their A game to the final and despite not being motorsport regulars each driver gave his and her best for their respective teams with the balance providing great support from the pit area.

Finishing fourth after a commendable effort was SAS Saldanha on 52 laps and a best lap time of 1min01.677 with the Military Academy Saldanha slotting into third, also on 52 laps and a best time of1min00.591.

The relentless pace produced by Major Shane Jeffries during the final stint had everyone on their feet as he reeled in Capt Carlo Germishuys who had been driving faultlessly. The old enemy in motorsport proving to be decisive as the lighter driver passed his frustrated rival shortly before receiving the chequered flag after 54 laps and a fastest time of 59.074sec.

The AFB Langebaanweg driving past a Mexican wave of enthusiastic support led by Chaplain Mandla Mtila and Major Nico Wiltshire. In fact it was a split decision with respect the Team Spirit of the Day award but SAS Saldanha could probably have been heard in nearby Bloubergstrand for most of the day and they deserved the accolade under the leadership of Commander L. le Roux.

Capt Carlo Germishuys and his 4 Special Forces Regiment Langebaan team certainly finished the event with pride and they will undoubtedly return in 2023 to prevent AFB Langebaanweg from taking a triple crown. Lapping at 1min00.073 was impressive.

The widest kart of the day belonged to Brig Gen A.J. “Cassie” de Castro as he successfully blocked competitors from passing. Though there were numerous candidates for the Most Spectacular Off during the day the honour for this achievement could only belong to WO2 A. Sengo of SAS Saldanha. Chasing after Brig Gen A.J. “Cassie” de Castro he quite literally turned his EMR Kart into a plough but somehow managed to keep it facing forward and could continue.

S Lt T.D. Mokwena (SAS Saldanha) showed fair pace early in the day but a few rotations did nothing to improve his position. One of the quickest drivers on track had to be Cpl Kekana of 4 Special Forces Regiment, but his pace was interrupted by a few really entertaining rotations. If there was an award for sheer expression it would have gone to Lt Col Dave Smith of AFB Langebaanweg as he really gave 110% in sheer effort. Looking at his level of perspiration Lt Col Morné Booÿjens of the Military Academy Saldanha must have planned his rest for Easter weekend!

In 2021 AFB Langebaanweg returned with three trophies and they repeated the feat in 2022! They defended the overall West Coast Military King of Karts title, added the Fastest Lap Time of the day by Major Shane Jeffries as well as the Driver of the Day by Lt Elias Koopman.

Incidentally the 59.074 lap set by Major Shane Jeffries will now become the target for each individual driver in 2023.

Commander Luigi le Roux proudly accepted the Team Spirit of the Day award on behalf of the SAS Saldanha members whilst Maj C.K. “Essie” Esterhuyse accepted the King of Karts award on behalf of the AFB Langebaanweg members. Major Shane Jeffries (AFB Langebaanweg) looked well pleased with his Fastest Time of the Day award whilst Lieutenant Elias Koopman (AFB Langebaanweg) was as surprised as everyone else when he  was named the Driver of the Day.

A round of applause to SA Army Foundation (Chairman Mr A.Ramphele), Sanlam (Me Helét Borchardt), Faculty of Military Science at the University of Stellenbosch (Professor M.S.Thehla) for their valued support. There can be no doubt that Esprit de Corps is alive and well at these four West Coast Military Units.

Oh, of course, finding the actual pit entrance still proved to be the most difficult aspect of the day!

Thank you to Marizca Radyn (Events Coördinator WPMC), Brad Wadeley (Kartsport) and Lt Col Morné Booÿjens (Chief Military Instructor at Military Academy Saldanha) for the hours behind the scenes to make this event a great success.

Roll on 2023, there is a title at stake!