Brilliant racing keeps Friday crowd happy

A chilly, breezy Pretoria winter’s morning greeted competitors and fans to Zwartkops Raceway for the fourth round of the South African National Championship Extreme Festival on Youth Day Friday, but the racing was anything but cool on a day that also warmed by the time the racing started.

Sasol GTC championship leader Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW) made short work of qualifying to deliver a fine pole position over an impressive Mathew Hodges’ Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta and the second Sasol BMW teammate, Robert and reigning champion Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi). Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo) and Christopher Shorter (Champion) made it an all-Signature Mini JCW front row in GTC2 ahead of Keagan Masters’ Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI and Trevor Bland and Charl Smalberger’s privateer Golf 7 GTIs. 

Bonafede romped away up front in race 1, leaving Stephen’s to pick off Wolk and Hodges to move into second from where he worked hard to close the gap through the traffic, but there was more gap than time and a delighted Bonafede drove home to win from Stephen, Hodges, Wolk, Moss, Daniel Rowe (VW Jetta and the privateer BMWs of a distant Johan Fourie and Michael van Rooyen. Liebenberg and Shorter managed to keepMasters behind in GTC2, with Smalberger fourth from Bland and Mandla Mdakane’s Golf.

The second, reverse-grid Sasol GTC race saw Simon Moss make a monster start to lead the way, but the red flag was out after Robert Wolk had an incident. Michael Stephen had made the best of the first lap action and was fourth behind Fourie, van Rooyen and Moss at the re-start. Van Rooyen dropped back and Stephen made short work of Moss to set off after Fourie, eventually taking the lead to win from Fourie, a resurgent Bonafede, Hodges and Moss The GTC2 lot delivered a thrilling race as Masters beat the Minis of Liebenberg and Shorter, with Mdkane fourth from Smalberger and Bland.

Stephen won the day overall from Bonafede, Hodges, Moss, Fourie and Rowe, while Masters took GTC2 for the day from Liebenberg, Shorter, Smalberger, Mdkane and Bland. Stephen moved into second in the title race behind Bonafede, with Moss now third from Fourie, Hodges and Rowe. Masters kept himself on top of the GTC2 title chase, while Liebenberg moved into second from Bland, Smalberger and Shorter, who moved up to fifth over Mdkane.

The Engen Volkswagen Cup delivered its regular spectacular action in two spectacular races, the first of which was twice slowed behind the safety car, the first of which came out after the first lap. The restart was dramatic as the top three, Juan Gerber (Glasfit/Ctrack), Devin Robertson (Payen) and Tasmin Pepper (Campos/Alpine) tangled on the restart to see Gerber rendered hors d’ combat. 

Robertson and Pepper recovered to lead Masters winner Shaun La Réservée (Alpine Motors), Clinton Bezuidenhout (Glyco), Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Healthcare) and Matt Shorter (Moog) home. Glasfit/Ctrack twins Justin and Darren Oates were next up from top rookie Benjamin Habig (Nural) and Gary van Heerden (Nutritech). The second race was less of a crunching affair with Robertson, Pepper and a recovered Gerber fighting it out at first before settling down to finish in that order ahead of Shorter, Bezuidenhout, La Réservée, Kruger, Darren and Justin Oates and van Heerden.

Julian van der Watt (RDSA Investchem) extended his national Investchem Formula 1600 championship domination to eight races on the trot in spite of the best efforts of a couple of fifteen-year old hotshots. Stuart White (Fantastic Racing) kept Julian on his toes in the first race with Brad Beningfield (General Energy), Alex Gillespie (ERP Truck), Cameron O’Connor (Strata/Repro Supplies) and Andrew Schofield (Investchem) next up.  O’Connor kept van der Watt honest in race 2 with Liam Pienaar (Phoenix Jewellers) third from Beningfield, Gillespie and a delayed  White.

Three support races included the Legends of the 9-hour, Little Giants, Bridgestone Thunder Bikes and the Bridgestone Challenge Motorcycles. Jonathan du Toit drove his 1968 Chevron B8 to Legends victory over brother Mark’s 1965 Lola T70 Spyder and Peter Bailey’s 1970 Porsche 917, with Ben Morgenrood’s 1965 Ford Mustang Chad Ten Doeschate’s 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe and Josh Dovey’s 1967 Ginetta G4R sixth

Hennie Groennewald took Little Giants honours in 1965 Alfa GT, holding off the attentions of Tom Campher Volvo 122 duo Alan Poulter and Vic Campher, followed by the Alfa Romeos of Francisco Lombardi and Roger Houston and Carel Pienaar’s Lotus Cortina

Conrad Clark rode his Idube/DOT Kawasaki ZX10 to Bridgestone Thunderbike victory over Nickolas Gertenbach (Westside Honda CBR) and Johan Nortje Fourways Flyers Kawasaki ZX10, while Masters winner Coen Erasmus E Engineering (Suzuki GSXR) took class B, Morongoa Mahope (Adrenaline Kawasaki ZX6) Class C  and Jens Venter (Westside Honda CBR) tool class D while Anja Tom Suden was the leading lady on her Milwaukee Yamaha.

Shaun Vermaak rode his Fourways Kawasaki ZX10 to Bridgestone Thunderbikes honours over Gavin Upton (Motion Perfection Yamaha R1) and Chris du Plessis (Yamaha R1), Marnus van der Merwe (Jassies Kawasaki ZX10) took class B, Morne Potgieter (Fourways Flyers Kawasaki ZX10) class c and Wayne Spicer (Wellness Group Kawasaki ZX10R) was the Masters winner. Clifford Ogle (WHC Ducati Panigale) took Sub 10 A honours and Rob Morf (Morphine Kawasaki ZX6) the Sub-10 B win.

The Extreme Festival visits Port Elizabeth's Aldo Scribante next on July 15 while Zwartkops Raceway’s next circuit race action is at the Inland Championship meeting Saturday 29 July before the next Extreme Festival National meeting there on 12 August.