Two Class A wins and the bonus points for pole position and fastest race laps at Phakisa Freeway on Saturday, 3 October allowed Rory Atkinson (BHIT VW Polo) to extend his lead at the top of the 2020 Pozidrive VW Challenge championship standings. His closest rival in the overall championship, Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo), won both Class B heats while Andy Gossman (Bluebelt Pozidrive Polo) had to fight to take the Class C win in both races.
It was touch and go whether the rain would arrive before Friday’s qualifying session was run but, as it happened, it was very windy but remained dry. With the Free State circuit known to be hard on tyres, most of the drivers opted to limit their running in qualifying to save as much grip as possible for Saturday’s races. Atkinson only did one flying lap, but it was enough to give him pole position from Waldie Meintjes (Bluebelt Pozidrive Polo) who just got the better of Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo). Despite running a couple more laps, Dawie van der Merwe (Universal Racing Polo) had to settle for fourth ahead of Mohamed Dangor (T-Rex Racing/Creative Ink Polo) and Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo). Mike Barbaglia (Litemart Polo) and Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Polo) rounded out the top eight in Class A.
It was very tight at the top of Class B with just five one-hundredths of a second covering the top three. Robyn Kriel (T-Rex Racing/Creative Ink Polo) led the way from Stuart Mack (Bluebelt Pozidrive Polo) with Holliday in third. Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) joined Holliday on the second row of the grid. Sam Dale (Bluebelt Pozidrive Polo), making his second appearance of the season, headed the third row alongside Elna Croeser in her newly branded ATE Polo. After a disappointing outing at the last round, Charisse van der Merwe (VDM Developments Polo) qualified seventh ahead of Bryce Pillay (FK Automotive/Techtisa Polo).
Gossman led the way in Class C from Adriaan de Beer (Zonke WiFi Polo), Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) and class newcomer Pierluigi Muzzulini (FSS International Polo). Eric Gander and Charl Andersen completed the top six.
The first race only a couple of laps old when the red flags came out after contact between Elna Croeser and Andre Needham left the marshals with lots of work to do to clear the debris. Luckily both drivers were uninjured, although the same cannot be said for their cars.
Once the race was restarted, Atkinson immediately grabbed the lead from Meintjes and van der Merwe with Bevin Masters in fourth just ahead of brother Wayne. The leading trio was able to open a slight gap to the rest of the chasing pack, but Atkinson always had things under control at the front, going on to take the win by three-quarters of a second. Meintjes kept van der Merwe at bay to take second while Bevin Masters had to settle for fourth ahead of Wayne. Dangor just got the better of Smalberger to take sixth with Barbaglia grabbing the last championship point for eighth.
An off-track excursion ended pole-sitter Kriel’s challenge, leaving the battle at the front of the Class B field to Holliday, Mack and Basha. Mack chased Holliday for the first half of the race before Basha took over, but neither of them could find a way past the Class B championship leader. Holliday took the win from Basha with Mack in third ahead of Sam Dale. Pillay was next up, ahead of Kwanda Mokoena, who was having his first outing in a VW Challenge car. He was just a couple of car lengths ahead of van der Merwe with Robbie Da Silva (T-Rex Racing/Creative Ink Polo) crossing the line in eighth.
De Beer led the Class C pack until halfway through the race when Gossman found a way through and into a lead that he slowly extended over the remaining laps. Mohammed Karodia (Fast 5 Motorsport Polo), who had to work his way through from the back of the grid after missing Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, claimed third ahead of Gander and Muzzulini with Andersen and Philip Croeser in sixth and seventh respectively.
The second race looked like it was going to be a repeat of the first at the front of the Class A field, with Atkinson leading the way from Meintjes and van der Merwe with Bevin and Wayne Masters not far back in fourth and fifth. Unfortunately for Meintjes, a mistake saw him head off the track and into the tyre barriers. Although he was able to continue, his chances of a podium finish were gone and he had to settle for seventh place ahead of Barbaglia who ended in eighth for the second time on the day. Up ahead, Atkinson had things under control and took his second win of the day from van der Merwe and Bevin Masters. Wayne Masters settled for fourth ahead of Smalberger and Dangor.
Class B again saw Holliday, Basha and Mack in a three-way battle for the lead. This became a two-way fight when Basha’s fan belt broke, ending his race. Although Mack claimed the fastest lap of the race, he couldn’t find a way past Holliday and had to settle for second place. Sam Dale ended in third, just ahead of Kriel and van der Merwe. Da Silva improved on his first race position by a couple of places to take sixth ahead of Mauritz Ngrini (Dynamic Aircons/Creative Ink Polo) and Leon Odendaal (Bluebelt Pozidrive Polo).
In Class C, Gossman grabbed the early lead and he was able to hold off de Beer until the flag. Karodia was again the best of the rest, taking third ahead of Croeser, Muzzulini and Gander. Andersen was the last of the classified Class C finished in seventh.
In the day’s overall standings, Atkinson took Class A from van der Merwe and Bevin Masters. Two wins gave Holliday Class B with Mack and Sam Dale joining him on the podium. Gossman took Class C from de Beer and Karodia.
With less than 10 points separating Atkinson and Holliday at the top of the provisional overall championship standings, it is all to fight for at the final round of the 2020 Pozidrive VW Challenge championship which is scheduled to take place at Zwartkops Raceway on 6 & 7 November 2020.