Rory Atkinson (BHIT VW Polo) got his 2020 Pozidrive VW Challenge title quest off to a great start at the opening round held at Red Star Raceway on Saturday, 22 February. Pole position, two wins and the fastest lap in the opening race means that the 2019 Class A champion left Delmas with 22 points, out of a possible 23, in the bag. In Class B Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) and Robyn Kriel (Motormart/Kalex Polo) shared the wins while Adriaan de Beer (Zonke WiFi Polo) came away with both Class C victories.
In Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Atkinson gave some indication of what his intentions were when he set a time just over a second quicker than that set by Dawie van der Merwe (Lee Thompson Racing Polo) to take pole position. Bevin Masters Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) and Waldie Meintjes (Allwagen Parts Polo) occupied the second row of the grid with Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo) and Mike Barbaglia (Polo) rounding out the top six.
Holliday just managed to get the better of Kriel to take pole position from Kriel with Charisse van der Merwe (Polo) and Elna Croeser ( Race Technology SA Polo) making the second row an all ladies affair. Stuart Mack, in the second Race Technology SA Polo, and Andre Needham (Mega Fibre Polo) occupied fifth and sixth.
Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) got the better of de Beer to take pole position in Class C.
Although the final result reflects that Atkinson won the opening race by just over six seconds, it wasn’t quite as easy as that. Initially, he was chased by Bevin Masters, but Dawie van der Merwe took over at the front of the chasing pack and set about closing the gap at the front. Unfortunately for the youngster, he overcooked it through one of the twisty sections and dropped down the field allowing Bevin Masters to re-claim second place which he held until the flag. Meintjes ended in third just half a second back. Wayne Masters took a somewhat lonely fourth with a recovering van der Merwe in fifth. Sixth went to Lyle Ramsay (Platinum Wheels/Fuchs Lubricants Polo) whose charge from the back of the grid was brought to an end by clutch failure. Andy Gossman (111 Plumbers/Tar & Turf Polo) and Mike Barbaglia (Polo) rounded out the points-paying positions.
When the dust settled after the first few corners in the Class B battle, it was Holliday who led the way from Kriel with Charisse van der Merwe keeping a watching brief in third. The leading duo pulled away from the rest of the field and it looked like Kriel would follow Holliday over the line until the final corner when suspension failure left her in the grass on the side of the circuit. Holliday took the flag with van der Merwe in second and Mack third. This result didn’t stand as van der Merwe was deemed to be responsible for Elna Croeser leaving the circuit at the start of the race. The subsequent penalty promoted Mack to second with Robbie da Silva (Motormart/SRK Polo) in third, his best VW Challenge result. Croeser was classified fourth ahead of van der Merwe with Chris Dale, out in a borrowed Class B car after the motor in his Class A Pozidrive Polo blew during Friday practice, in sixth. Farhhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) and series newcomer Mitch Coetzee (Polo) finished in seventh and eighth.
After leading Class C in the early stages, Philip Croeser faded after his boot opened and acted as a giant air brake. This allowed de Beer through to take the win.
In race 2, Atkinson again grabbed the lead from the start with Ramsay and van der Merwe leading the chasing pack. Ramsay’s difficult day continued as, just after half-distance, his motor erupted in a cloud of smoke. This left van der Merwe as Atkinson’s only rival, but the former champion was able to control things from the front and take the win despite van der Merwe setting the fastest lap time of the race. Meintjes had a somewhat lonely drive to third ahead of Wayne Masters who finished less than half a second ahead of Barbaglia. Bevin Masters ended in sixth with Gossman the last of the classified Class A finishers
With Kriel’s suspension damage repaired, she was able to resume her battle with Holliday at the front of Class B. This time, however, she was able to find a way past and stay in front to take her first Pozidrive VW Challenge win. Holliday crossed the line a couple of car lengths behind with Charisse van der Merwe in third. Da Silva had another good result, finishing fourth ahead of Mack with Dale again in sixth. Mohamed Dangor, also out in a borrowed Class B car after his Class A MotorMart Polo popped a motor on Friday, finished seventh just quarter of a second behind Dale. Andre Needham (Mega Fibre Polo) claimed the final podium position.
In Class C, de Beer again beat Croeser to the flag.
In the day’s overall standings, Atkinson took the Class A win from Meintjes and Dawie van der Merwe. Class B went to Holliday with Charisse van der Merwe and Mack joining him on the podium. De Beer outdid Croeser to take Class C.
The next outing for the Pozidrive VW Challenge driver is on 13 & 14 March at Zwartkops Raceway where the second round of the 2020 championship will take place.