Iain takes VW Challenge for Thompson

Lee Thompson Racing had a mixed weekend’s racing at Zwartkops highlighted by veteran driver Iain Pepper taking overall Comsol Volkswagen Challenge honours on Saturday while the rest of the team made good progress pace, although not everyone managed to turn that into results.

Pepper turned the Class A establishment on its head by putting his Husqvarna Motorcycles LTR Polo on pole position before delivering a fine race 1 win Saturday. “It was great to win again — it’s been a few years!” Iain, who returned behind the racing wheel following several seasons away running his race team for and developing race talents including his son Jordan and daughter Tasmin, admitted. 

“It’s a pity we could not make it a clean sweep after the power steering failed and caught me out, but second was OK and we still won the day — thanks to Lee for all the effort in getting the car back on the pace. “We were caught a bit with our pants down earlier in the season but now we’re right back in the fight.”

The team’s other VW Challenge entries had mixed weekends. “I picked up a misfire during qualifying and couldn’t manage to solve the problem before either of the races,” Delway LTR Class A Polo pilot Wayne Crous explained. I tried my best to stick with the pack and with all the problems we still managed to finish 5th overall, so my cloudy weekend did have a silver lining - thanks to Lee and the lads for all the effort!”

Team Thompson’s third Challenge Class A driver Waldie Meintjes showed good practice pace and qualified on the third row of the grid, but his LTR Polo suffered issues and failed to finish either race. “This is one of those weekends mama warns you about,” Waldie shrugged. “I suppose it’s just a matter of getting back up, dusting myself off and getting on with it - I suppose my year can only get better for the team and I…” 

Ancro Building Projects Class C VW Challenge driver Shane Crous also struggled at Zwartkops. “It wasn’t my best weekend  - I had issues with my car in the first race but I still managed to finish third,” Shaun explained. “I went off in the second race and I think the timing of the car jumped and I was forced to stop, but it was by God’s love and grace we raced again, we all are safe and no one got hurt.”

Lee Thompson Racing’s weekend started on Friday however, when Charl Smalberger got to grips with his iCorp Volkswagen Parts LTR Golf GTI and Mauritian Simon Need raced his Photonics Polo in the Engen Volkswagen Cup. 

“I struggled a bit in qualifying, but ended up fifth,” Charl explained. “Race 1 was good and car came into its own towards the middle of the race and I caught and passed Trevor Bland. I was closing on the front three, but the brakes and tyres went a bit off and I ended up holding Trevor off for fourth.

“The second race was hectic — going up the hill on Lap 1, I found a BMW in the middle of the road and I had to dodge him and then the race was stopped. “The restart was good — I was third early on and chased the guys but both the Minis eventually got past, after which I just hung in to end up fifth — it was a pretty decent weekend overall.”

Simon Need enjoyed one of his best results yet in Polo Cup, qualifying 18th before making the best of a wild first heat to end up 12th. “I had a very good practice pace, but my qualifying was a bit off and I had to work hard to make up places,” Mauritian Simon explained. “It was wild out there and there was quite a bit of contact, but I was quite happy with that result. “I struggled a bit to finish 18th in race 2 but we are getting there — I am learning so much every race — thanks so much to Lee!”

Team principal Lee Thompson was however positive at all his drivers’ newfound pace: “It was actually a pretty good weekend for us, seeing that we made up plenty ground on pace, but not all the guys could take advantage of that due to a variety of reasons. “Simon and Charl also had good pace in practice they could not unleash their full race day potential due to bad qualifying results. “We are all getting there - Iain had a great weekend though and a win is a win and we are delighted with that.”

Lee Thompson Racing’s VW Challenge quartet line up for their next round at Phakisa on 15 July before its GTC2 and Polo drivers head to Port Elizabeth a week later.