Local lad triumphs in Italy

2012-10-23 00:00

HIBBERDENE karter Clinton Bezuidenhout capped off a remarkable year of racing when he dominated the recent Rok Cup International Final in Italy to become the Mini Rok world champion.

The Izotsha Primary School pupil, who formed part of the South African team, won all three of his qualifying heats after starting in the second row to earn pole position for the final and went on to clinch the world title in a faultless display that underlined his true talent.

“I’m very stoked and excited that I’m the world champ,” young Bezuidenhout told The Witness.

“I put a lot of effort into training and into making it to the World Final and now I’ve won it. It just goes to show that hard work pays off,” he added.

His parents, Corrie and Veronica, have been there every step of the way and were overcome with emotion when their son crossed the finish line in first place.

“We are incredibly proud of Clinton,” said Clinton’s father and mentor, Corrie Bezuidenhout.

“My wife Veronica, and I, have been to all his races and to be able to witness him winning the World Final was a very emotional experience for us. All the South Africans had tears in their eyes.”

Bezuidenhout headed into the most important event of his young career brimming with confidence after winning two national titles — Mini Rok and Maxterino — an African open title and a regional title.

His victory at the weekend was not only the culmination of a dream that started at the tender age of four years old, but it was also the first time in Motorsport South Africa history that a karter completed such as unprecedented clean sweep of national and international titles.

The 11-year-old captivated the crowd as he showed composure beyond his years to quell any fears that he might buckle under the immense pressure that accompanies an event of such magnitude.

“I’ve seen him race many times and achieve excellent results, but that was the best I’ve ever seen him,” said Corrie.

“The spectators could not believe that an 11-year-old could be so focused and relaxed. He didn’t make a single mistake the entire weekend.”

When Bezuidenhout took up the sport seven years ago, it was immediately apparent that he was a prodigious talent. Always the youngest racer to win his division, he was first awarded his South African colours at the age of nine and has received them every year since.

After three years under the tutelage of Wesley Orr, Bezuidenhout joined the Zanardi Kart team at the start of the year and dedicated his victory to Italian owner Alex Zanardi.

Zanardi, a former Formula One racing driver, lost both legs in a crash in 2001 and won a gold medal in the handcycle time trial at his maiden Paralympics in London in September.

Bezuidenhout dedicated his win to Zanardi and added that he would also like to thank his parents and mechanic, Pedro.

Having announced himself on the global stage, Bezuidenhout is in high demand to race in high-profile events in France, Greece, Italy and the United States next year.

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