|What||Investchem Formula 1600 Championship Round 3 Report|
|Where||Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria|
|When||Saturday 12 May 2018|
|Community||South Africa National|
Nicholas storms to a F1600 double
Ten days before Saturday’s Zwartkops Investchem Formula 1600 races, Nicholas van Weely was sitting in the emergency room waiting to have his finger sewn back on following a domestic slip, but come Saturday morning, the young man strapped himself into his Magnificent Paints machine to put it third on the grid behind Alex Gillespie’s ERP Trucking car and Liam Pienaar (Fantastic Racing), before making a blinder of a start and storming to a pair of lights to flag victories over Pienaar and Gillespie each time. Van Weely in the process mounted a significant championship charge in chase of the big Mazda Road to Indy Shootout prize.
The weekend started with a bout of musical cars, with championship leader Stuart White missing this round to race in France, while Cameron O’Connor was away competing in the US. So Harmen van Beek was drafted into White’s usual car, Scott Temple returned to the wheel of Gillespie’s spare car, veteran Claudio Piazza Musso took over Ian Schofield’s regular mount and Schofield took over Andre Rackstraw’s car in the absence of its regular driver, who was also away karting in Cape Town.
Gillespie, who arrived at Zwartkops second in the title race, started the weekend in style as he put his ERP Trucking Components machine on pole position to take the bonus point with a lap of 1m04.822s, a tenth clear of Pienaar with van Weely next up another tenth adrift and Andrew Schofield fourth in his Investchem Mygale. Dad Ian Schofield (Investchem) led Class B rivals David Jermy (Beauty Factory) and Claudio Piazza Musso (Investchem/ RDSA) in fifth, sixth and seventh.
Tiago Rebelo (TRMS), Siyabonga Mankonkwana (Cervinia Investments/Max Q) and Brendan Tracey (Investchem) closing off the top ten. Harmen van Beek (Fantastic Racing), Joshua Dolinschek (Makita Power Tools), and Class B duo Garth de Villiers (Durrant) and Allen Meyer and newcomer Gerard Geldenhuys (Abacus) were next up, while Scott Temple lined up at the back after missing qualifying thanks to a battery problem.
Van Weely however pounced at the start to move into the lead off the second row before clearing off to win at a canter as he left Pienaar to fend off Gillespie and Andrew Schofield, with Harmen van Beek keeping a watching brief. Scott Temple drove a brilliant race from the back of the grid, scything through the field and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process to end up sixth ahead of Rebelo and Class B winner Ian Schofield, while Tracey and Mankonkwana rounded off the top ten ahead of Jermy, Piazza Musso, de Villiers, Dolinschek and Geldenhuys.
Van Weely made another brilliant start to jump front row men Temple and Pienaar to once again take the lead of race 2, but Liam Pienaar made him work for that second race win as he shadowed van Weely to the line to finish half a second adrift. Gillespie wound up a further two seconds adrift as he fended Andrew Schofield off with Class B winner David Jermy next up, ahead of Temple, who fought back from near the back after his slow start to once again set the fastest lap and claim that bonus point.
Ian Schofield wound up seventh ahead of Dolinschek, Tracey and Mankonkwana in tenth, in spite of being delayed after he and van Beek visited the sand trap with Piazza Musso eleventh from Rebelo, de Villiers and Geldenhuys after van Beek stopped a few laps after his visit to the Zwartkops beach at the top of the hill. The overall positions for the day followed the top end of the two race results as van Weely took the day from Pienaar, Gillespie, Andrew Schofield, Temple and Tracey, while David Jermy overcame Ian Schofield to take the Class B trophy home with Piazza Musso and de Villiers next up.
The result of all that and the upshot of O’Connor and White skipping this round means that the championship chase has now closed up to see White just four points clear of van Weely at the top of the table after six rounds, with Gillespie third a further six points adrift, while Liam Pienaar leads a three-way fight for fourth with Andrew Schofield and O’Connor and the three of them split by just six points.
The Investchem Formula 1600 championship and the chase for that Road to Indy shootout prize heads to the fast East London Grand Prix Circuit next for what promises to be another slipstreaming battle on Youth Day 16 June.