Single point between Meintjes & title
One point. That’s all that separated Lee Thompson Racing’s Waldie Meintjes from a hard-earned Comsol Volkswagen Challenge Class A championship after a tough day’s racing at Zwartkops on Saturday.
Meintjes and his silver LTR Polo went into Saturday’s final race five points clear of championship rival Rory Atkinson, which meant he had to finish third were Atkinson to win or fourth if Rory ended up second and all was going to plan halfway through the rain-affected heat as Waldie lay fourth and Stiaan Kriel controlled the race in front ahead of Atkinson. But Kriel ran into gearbox trouble, which elevated Atkinson to the win to enable him to steal the championship win right at the death.
“First of all congratulations to Rory — it was a brilliant and hard-fought season all the way and he beat me fair and square in the end,” Pretoria professional Meintjies admitted. “We slipped a little from the pace in the last few races and that hurt us - Rory went the other way, but still I am proud of a great championship year.”
52-year old Meintjes put in a stellar show to fight the young guns all the way. “It’s not easy — I’m racing guys and girls half my age and even though I’m fit, they are brave and they have the benefit of youth on their side, so I am really happy to take it to them.
Waldie will take a little solace in that he was not the only driver to lose a championship by a single point on Saturday — all four Comsol titles, overall and the three classes were decided by single points, while the VW Polo Cup and its Junior and Masters classes also went down to a solitary point’s difference — among in far tougher circumstances.
“Right now I am not sure about next year — I have one or two bucket list items I want to tick outside of racing, but let’s see - it may change and I could well be back to chase it again next year,” Waldie concluded. “Thanks to Lee Thompson Racing and the guys — it was a brilliant season.”
Zwartkops also proved a hard nut to crack for Tasmin Pepper and her Alpine Motors Campos Transport LTR Class A Polo, but she had to deal with Lady Luck being on extended holiday for much of the past season. “That was a dismal end to a tough season,” Tasmin concluded “But we need to take the good with the bad and I'm already looking ahead to the new season back in Polo Cup next year! “Thank you to the team for all the effort over the past year — we had so much fun…”
The weekend was however something of a watershed for Lee Thompson Racing’s third Class A entry, as Wayne Crous impressed with a brilliant drive in the second wet race aboard his King Price Insurance LTR Polo: “I had so much fun — the car is in 1 piece and I managed to beat Tazz in race 2,” Wayne reported. “I struggled with pace in race 1 but had a great dice with the Beetle. “This year has been a huge learning curve for me with all the testing and development done on the car this year, will definitely benefit us next year. "A huge thanks to Lee Thompson and his team for keeping the cars competitive.”
The finale was also a good race for Lee Thompson Racing’s Class B driver Michael Harris, who also enjoyed a great second race. “Firstly I would like to say a huge thanks to the team — Lee Thompson Racing, Iain Pepper and SA Lube for the season,” Michael wrapped it up. “Going into Zwartkops we had nothing to lose but I battled with pace all weekend and qualified 7th for a fifth place finish, race two started in 8th to finish in fourth — one of my best races yet in damp conditions for fourth overall. “Hope to see you all on track next year!"
Shaun Crous also enjoyed a positive weekend in his Class C Ancro Construction LTR Polo Vivo, turning in a good first race in the dry, before leading the wet second heat and dicing to second at the flag. “I was so happy to finish my season like that,” Shaun explained. “It’s been a difficult last few races after we were taken out at Killarney and having to deal with all that, so to fight for the lead makes me very confident for next season. “See you next year - I just cannot wait!’
“That was a good season — a thrilling season, but it was also a tough and challenging season,” team principal Lee Thompson concluded. “We did a lot of winning, but we also had more than our fair share of trouble — it was so hard for Waldie to lose the championship by that single point and Tasmin had more than her fair share of poor fortune, but when it was right, she mostly won.
“Our Class B lads - Michael and the Stewart brothers grew and improved steadily as they learned through the season and the Crous brothers have shown so much potential since joining us. “Now it's time to rest and recuperate before we start all over again — roll on 2017!”