Atkinson conquers the challenge

A win in the opening race followed up by a controlled drive to second in race two at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 10 November, gave Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) the overall and Class A championships in the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge. Stiaan Kriel (Pozidrive/Kalex Polo) won the second race but had to settle for the runners-up spot in the championship. Jody Robertson (JRT Racing Polo) won both Class B races, but a fourth place in race one and a second place in race two gave Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) the Class B title and third place in the overall standings. Series newcomer Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) had a great debut, taking both race wins in Class C.

Rory Atkinson won the overall and Class A championships

Rory Atkinson won the overall and Class A championships

Kriel set the quickest time in Saturday morning’s qualifying session, but that time was disallowed, and he received a three-place grid penalty as he set the time in a lap where red flags were displayed after Craig Gammie blew the motor in his GTR Performance Polo and dropped oil on the approach to turn two. Kriel’s indiscretion gave Atkinson pole position with Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) alongside him on the front row. Lyle Ramsay (Monroe Racing RSA/Fuchs Lubricants Polo) headed the second row ahead of Kriel with Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo) and Wayne Crous (Delway Trading Polo) filling row three. JP van der Walt (Platinum Wheel Polo) and Gavin Ross (Norbrake Polo) rounded out the top eight.

Robertson was nearly a tenth quicker than Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo) to take pole position in Class B with Stuart Mack (Race Technology Polo) and Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo) in third and fourth respectively after Graeme Nathan (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo), who set the fourth quickest time, was penalized for a technical infringement. Championship contender Holliday Jnr claimed fifth ahead of Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) while Roberto Joaquim (Cool-Freeze/Auto Aircon Polo) and Andre Needham (Polo) filled the fourth row of the grid. Class C went to Andy Gossman (Technikon Auto Spares Polo) from Basha and Reeza Goolam (Polo).

In the opening race, Atkinson was able to open a gap from the start while the rest of the pck fought for position. Kriel had worked his way up to second by half- distance but couldn’t get close enough to Atkinson to have any chance of mounting an attack. Unfortunately for Kriel, one of the passes he made on his way through to second was deemed to have been made under a yellow flag and the subsequent penalty dropped him down to fourth place behind Bevin Masters and Ramsay. Wayne Masters got the better of his duel with Crous to take fifth with Gavin Ross taking seventh ahead of Jaco Nel (Polo).

Jody Robertson leads Deon Holliday Snr and Stuart Mack

Jody Robertson leads Deon Holliday Snr and Stuart Mack

Robertson, Holliday Snr and Mack spent almost the entire opening race running nose-to-tail, but Robertson had just enough to hold them off and take the win. Behind them it was the battle of the class championship contenders, Holliday Jnr getting the better of Jacques Smith, who had to fight his way from way down the field after his Dirt Nurse Polo developed a misfire during qualifying. Nathan, Dangor and Joaquim completed the top eight. In Class C it looked like Gossman was heading for a comfortable win, but when his Polo cried enough with three laps remaining, Basha took the victory.

In the second race, Kriel new he had to win and hope some misfortune struck Atkinson. While Kriel was able to take the win, Atkinson remained in second throughout, comfortably ahead of the fight for the final podium position, and enough to secure the championship. Bevin Masters took that final podium place ahead of brother Wayne who had Ramsay in his wheel tracks. Ross managed to get the better of Crous to take sixth with van der Walt in eighth.

Farhaan Basha won both heats in Class C

Farhaan Basha won both heats in Class C

In Class B, Robertson had a much easier path to victory in the second race with all the actin happening behind him. Smith needed to finish very close to or ahead of Holliday Jnr to secure the class championship, but early contact between him and Nathan dropped the title hopeful down the field. While he was able to regain some of the ground he lost, sixth place was too far behind Holliday Jnr, who ended the race in second and took the Class B championship. Holliday Snr ended in third after swapping positions with his son on the final lap, ahead of Mack and Joaquim. Nathan, who was penalized for the incident with Smith, was classified seventh ahead of Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozidrive Polo). Class C again want to Basha with Goolam following him home.

In the day’s overall standings, Atkinson took Class A from Kriel and Bevin Masters with Robertson, Holliday Snr and Mack on the Class B podium. Basha took Class C from Goolam.

The battle at the top of the Class A championship was tight all season, but Atkinson took that crown from Kriel with Ramsay in third. Holliday Jnr took Class B from Smith with Dale in third while Class C went to Christiaan de Wet (MotorMart Polo) from Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) and Gossman.

The MotorMart VW Challenge competitors now have a couple of months to get their cars sorted out for the new season. The 2019 championship is scheduled to start on the last weekend in February at Red Star Raceway.