Cape fans treated to brilliant racing

A perfect spring Saturday greeted a large and enthusiastic Killarney crowd, which was treated to an exceptional day of national championship circuit racing when the Extreme Festival visited Cape Town over the weekend. The track action on track was quick to reach boiling point, with needle matches, close racing and spectacular action tight through the day.

Sasol BMW’s erstwhile Sasol GTC championship leader Gennaro Bonafede set the pace to put his Sasol BMW on pole position by just three-hundredths of a second over new title leader Michael Stephen (Engen Audi) Friday afternoon. Their respective teammates Robert Wolk and Simon Moss filled the second row of the grid, with Johan Fourie (EPS BMW), Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen) and Michael van Rooyen’s RSC BME all within 0.8 seconds of Bonafede.

GTC Battle of the Giants
Gennaro however delivered a splendid lights-to-flag win under extreme pressure from Stephen, who closed the gap down to a tenth of a second by the flag. There was a shake-up behind as Moss overcame Wolk and Rowe, who plummeted down the field from fourth as van Rooyen took fifth from Mathew Hodges’ Volkswagen, Fourie and Rowe.

The second race with its grid set in the reverse order of the first race results, saw Daniel Rowe streak off into the lead while the rest sorted themselves out behind. Stephen and Bonafede were soon in second and third and just as quickly into a fight for the lead with Moss next up as Rowe slipped back to fight it out with teammate Hodges for fourth while Fourie, van Rooyen and Wolk all hit trouble. 

This time Bonafede chased Stephen down as Michael took the win by half a second from Gennaro, Moss, Hodges and Rowe, who was also stung with a 20-second penalty, which made no difference to his position in the end. Stephen may have been credited with the overall win on the day from Bonafede and Moss, but Bonafede was the effective winner, for while he came away with equal race points in the races, his pole position and two fastest race laps enabled him to claw back a few points on championship leader Stephen in what is fast becoming a titanic championship battle…

Privateer advantage
VW Golf GTI privateers Charl Smalberger (iCorp VW Parts) and Trevor Bland (TB Racing) started their Sasol GTC2 weekends off on a positive note by dominating the front row of the grid over VW Motorsport championship leader Keagan Masters, who opted to race at home instead of in Germany this weekend. 

Bland led Smalberger from the start, but Masters hit trouble early on and toured round to claim the reverse race pole after pitting as Bland led Smalberger home to win race 1. VW Motorsport’s Mandla Mdakane was third from Chris Shorter’s Champion Mini, debutant Nick Adcock’s AidCall 24 Golf GTI and Bradley Liebenberg’s Ferodo Mini, but Shorter dropped back after incurring a 20-second over-boost penalty in the race.

Masters made no mistakes as he charged off to an emphatic reverse grid race 2 win over Shorter, as Smalberger clawed back to third from Liebenberg, Iain Stevenson (Comsol Golf), Adcock, Bland and Mdakane. Smalberger however continued to defy the odds with another overall win for the day over Shorter, the delighted debutant Nick Adcock, Bland, Liebenberg and Stevenson.

Polo thrills
If the GTCs entertained, then the Engen Volkswagen Cup clearly thrilled, with pole man and championship leader Devin Robertson’s Payen Polo slowed by technical issues in the first race to leave Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Health) fending off Pepper Racing pair Tasmin Pepper (Campos/Alpine) and Shaun La Réservée (Alpine). Pepper and Kruger made contact on the penultimate lap to allow La Réservée through, but Tasmin fought back to beat her teammate to the win by a few hundredths of a second in a race to the line, with Kruger third.

There was an even harder race behind as Clinton Bezuidenhout (Nural), Kuda Vazhure (VW Motorsport), Matt Shorter, Juan Gerber and Jonathan Mogotsi battled it out with Bezuidenhout, Vazhure and Shorter ending up fourth, fifth and sixth from Darren Oates, Benjamin Habig and the struggling Robertson ninth after Gerber and Mogotsi exited stage left.

Robertson bounced back to lead race 2 from lights to flag, holding Kruger, Pepper and La Réservée off after the Pepper duo swapped places toward the end.  Tasmin was unable to overcome Kruger this time, but Gerber had a better race to fourth ahead of Darren Oates, Matt Shorter and local lad Jano van der Westhuizen.

So Tasmin Pepper took overall honours for the day over teammate La Réservée and Kruger, but Devin Robertson was the biggest winner of the day as he clawed back to fourth to clinch his second Engen Volkswagen Cup title several years on. Shorter ended up fifth overall from Darren Oates and Bezuidenhout, whose title hopes took a bit of a knock in 8th. It was an even worse day for Gerber and Mogotsi though, both of whom head to Kyalami’s season finale with some work to do.

Cape Town’s SA champion
It was a very good day for the Cape in the single seaters as Julian van der Watt (RDSA Investchem) beat local wildcard Joshua Dolinschek (Makita) to race 1 honours and clinch the 2017 SA national championship on home soil. Dean Venter (Desco/Manitou) wound up third from Alex Gillespie, Liam Pienaar, Class B winner Ian Schofield, Tiago Rebelo and Cameron O’Connor, who had been a strong second until the last lap.

Van der Watt then trotted off to his 13th win in 14 races in heat 2, once again from Dolinschek, with Liam Pienaar (Phoenix Jewelleers) filling the final podium step this time ahead of Gillespie, Andrew and Ian Schofield, who wrapped up the Class B title with another class win in sixth overall. Van der Watt took the day overall from Dolinschek, Pienaar, Gillespie, Ian Schofield and Venter.

A delectable field of supercars however stole the show, with a horde of upcountry visitors arriving at Killarney to take on the Cape’s finest, but the starting grid pointed to local domination. Dawie Joubert put his fearsome Lotus Honda on pole position from Marcel Angel (Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458), Johan Engelbrecht (Jogajogga Porsche 911 GT2R), Craig Jarvis (Panacea Ferrari 458), Niyaaz Modack’s BMW and Nicky Dicks’ Porsche in a home-grown top six.

Supercars sensational
Joubert and Angel fought hard to deliver a lights to flag 1-2, but third placed Engelbrecht slowed mid-distance and stopped a lap later, while Modack’s race came to a smoky end. That allowed Jarvis’ Ferrari into third from Porsche trio Franco Scribante, Nicky Dicks, Dino Scribante and BMW visitors, Dawie Olivier, Ricky Giannoccaro and Adrian Dalton and Andre Brink’s Porsche in tenth. 

Pole man Joubert stopped early in race 2 leaving Franco Scribante to lead the way, but the spectacular Porsche also ground to a halt to leave Angel to lead Jarvis home in a Ferrari 458 1-2 with Olivier third from Dino Scribante, Dalton, Ricky Giannoccaro and Brink. Sun Moodley took 8th in the Bigfoot Porsche ahead of Ferrari 430 duo Jimmy Giannoccaro and Harry Aranges as Angel took overall honours from, Jarvis, Olivier, Dino Scribante, Dalton and Ricky Giannoccaro.

National championship Formula Vee racing returned to Killarney for the first time in a few years, but it was all about Jaco Schriks, who drove his Cubed Coatings Rhema to a double victory over Peter Hills (Lubefusion Rhema), Namibian Siyabonga Mankonkwana (Cervinia Rhema), Lushen Ramchander (Miami Forza), Lendl Jansen and Gert van den Berg in the first race. Ramchander and Hills swapped places in race 2 from Mankonkwana, van den Berg and Brandon Hills with Schriks taking it overall from Peter Hills, Mankonkwana and Ramchander.

The day’s two-wheeled entertainment came in the form of the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Maters, where Graeme van Breda (IVID) took the race 1 victory over Sven Grune, Pieter de Vos, Jaco Gous and Sanjiv Singh. Van Breda did the double, leading Gous (Central Propshaft), Grune, de Vos, Jacques Ackermann and Johan le Roux home in race two, to win the day from Gous, Grune and de Vos.

Local thrills
The day was wrapped up by a round of the local Western Province Midas Clubmans, where Shane du Toit (S&S Meat Golf) threw a normally aspirated cat amongst the turbocharged pigeons to beat Michael le Sueur (New Engineering Golf), Danie van Niekerk (Wingfield BMW) and another atmospheric expert, John Craig (Nissan Sentra) to the first race win. 

The second race results mirrored the first bar Clint Renard (G&A Golf) demoting van Niekerk to fourth as Craig’s Nissan expired in spectacular fashion. Du Toit won overall and took Class X, le Sueur took class A, Ewald Weiland (Alfa Romeo GTV 6) won Class B, Ernest Roos (Executive BMW) Class C, Camien Lopez (Cape refractory Polo) Class D, JP Share (BMW) Class E and Carel van der Merwe (Polo) won Class F.

Killarney’s next main circuit raceday is the 7 October Legends meeting and Sarel van der Merwe tribute featuring Ford and Friends, before the big one — the South African World Rallycross Grand Prix 11-12 November. The national championship Extreme Festival meanwhile heads to Kyalami next on 4 November for the Engen VW Cup and Investchem Formula 1600 finales, while the Sasol GTC2 championship continues to wrap up at Zwartkops three weeks later.