Collin Matiza Sports Editor
THE recent emergence of Axcil Jefferies as one of the country’s top motor racing drivers seem to have inspired a number of youngsters who are following in his footsteps with the hope of one day competing in the world-popular Formula One championship.
Jefferies, who now is a professional racing driver currently based in the United Arab Emirates, cut his teeth from karting in which he was crowned the South African national champion some four or five years ago before he graduated to become a GP2 driver.
The GP2 is just one rung behind Formula One racing and Jefferies is planning to compete in the GP2 series once again in 2016 from his base in the UAE.
But back home in Zimbabwe, he still has a lot of young followers and among them is 12-year-old Zachary Dufty.
Dufty, Zimbabwe’s youngest and only kart racer to have raced in the Rok World Finals and now plying his trade in South Africa, headed down to Vereeniging last week for round two of the South African Northern Regions Championships.
With severe storms overnight, which continued throughout last Thursday, the organisers struggled to clear the flooded track for any practice sessions leaving only the Friday session, which severely curtailed Zac’s seat time at his first visit to this track in his new class.
With such limited time, a good set up proved difficult to find during the day but some last minute chassis changes at the end of the day resulted in a good improvement, putting him back in the “pack” Racing his Motul Kosmic kart, race day immediately saw Zac (12) putting in some decent times during warm-up and with fresh tyres for qualifying, he managed a 10th grid position. With the whole field of 14 karts covered by 1.16 seconds and 6th — 10th covered by only 0.3 seconds it is easy to see why it is one of the most competitive classes in South Africa.
The first race saw a nine kart accident in the first corner of the start, fortunately with no-one hurt but of course upsetting the race order considerably. An excellent drive in the second race saw Zac up the order to 9th setting the 8th quickest time.
Overall he finished a very satisfactory 8th position with good lap times proving he is competitive in one of the quickest classes in South Africa where the youngsters are reaching speeds of up to 140kph.
Zac’s father, Kevin, says: “It is always a big challenge racing in South Africa because the other youngsters get so much more seat time practicing and testing, whereas, we are limited in the amount of travelling we can do due to budget restraints”.
“When you realise that some competitors are spending up to R100 000 for a week-end of testing, it puts our efforts into perspective. Having said that Zac is learning so much and is driving better than ever, showing that he has what it takes to compete on the South African stage and with help from Motul Zimbabwe we are confident of reaching the top levels of karting and further,” Kevin Dufty said.
Zac a student and the Under-14 cricket captain at Gateway High School whom Kevin Dufty thanked for being so supportive of him chasing his dream.
Zac continues to be not only the youngest but the only Zimbabwean karter to be upholding the country’s flag outside our borders.