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King Price xtreme’s

Jayden Els

Rising star Els has sights firmly on Dakar

18-year-old Jayden Els is already a familiar face on South Africa’s racetracks and rally routes, where his precocious talent has been raising eyebrows for several years.

Racing in the colours of the King Price Xtreme racing team, the 2017 karting world champion finished fifth in the 2021 National VW Polo Cup, which included a few podium finishes along the way, and the award for most improved driver. For good measure, Els competed in the competitive R2 class in the National Rally Championship.

Last year, Els focused his energies on the National Rally Raid Championship, where he drove a Renault Duster with a monstrous 5.0L V8 Ford Mustang engine in T-class to victory in the Class-T Championship. For 2023, the spotlight is turning to competing in the FIA T1 Class and securing the championship. Of course, he’s targeting the overall podium in at least 1 of the events this season as well.

Els was born to race. He first got behind the wheel when he got a kart for his seventh birthday, back in 2011. More than a decade later, he’s hardly let a steering wheel out of his hands. He started racing competitively a couple of months after getting his first kart, ending second in the 2012 championship.

The rest, as they say, is history. He raced the ultra-competitive 60cc Mini Rok class in the 8 to 13-year-old category in 2013 and 2014 and ended third in the SA National Championship in 2015, under the watchful eye of mentor Leeroy Poulter.

But his big break came in 2017, when he came from the back of the grid to win the Rotax African Open, earning a seat at the Rotax World Finals in Italy. There, his qualifying races saw him start tenth in the final, but the young Els put on a show of sheer grit and skill to work his way through the field to win the world title.

2020 was a busy year for the young man. He finished tenth in his first season in the National VW Polo Cup, which features 23 identical cars, and won the class Championship in the National Rally Championship VW Vivo Cup class.

His experience certainly belies his age. And this will stand him in good stead to push himself to his limits in the FIA class which is significantly more competitive.

However, having someone like racing legend Schalk Burger as part of the King Price Xtreme team on hand to mentor him, has proven invaluable.

‘I’m truly grateful and blessed to be part of the team as I won’t be able to compete at this level without King Price and Schalk’s support,’ says Els.

‘Racing is in my blood. I come from a motorsport-loving family, and my long-term aim is to become a works driver someday for a big team. My 1 piece of advice for young drivers is to never give up on their dreams. You might not always have the best equipment but if you push the limits with what you have, you’ll be seen, and doors will open for you.’

When he’s not tearing it up on the track, you’ll find Els on the golf course. Or, not surprisingly, behind the wheel of his racing simulator at home. Being a first-year means he must still figure out how to balance his studies at university with his racing passion. But keep your eyes peeled: We haven’t heard the last of this young man.

He’s set his sights on winning the Dakar Challenge in Botswana this year to hopefully enter the Dakar in 2024. So, when he races to Dakar glory in a few years from now, remember where you heard his name first. Or Els…

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