Pole position and two race wins in the second round of the 2019 MotorMart VW Challenge series, held at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 9 March allowed Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings. Stiaan Kriel (MotorMart/Kalex Polo) claimed victory in the opening class B heat, but an inadvertent technical infringement in the second saw him excluded from the results, handing the win to Richie Napier (SA Pool Liners/Bodyline Polo). Andy Gossman (Allwagen Parts Polo) and Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) shared the Class C wins.
Atkinson was quarter of a second quicker than his closest challenger, Lyle Ramsay in the Monroe Racing/Fuchs Lubricants Polo, in the morning qualifying session. Waldie Meintjes (Allwagen Parts Polo) was next up, just ahead of Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) with JP van der Walt (Platinum Wheels Polo) and Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo) rounding out the top six.
In Class B, Kriel led the way with visiting international driver Andrea Furci joining him on the front row. Napier headed the second row of the grid alongside Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo) with Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) and Charisse van der Merwe (M&M Auto Clinic Polo) filling the third row. The top six were separated by less than three-quarters of a second with the next four covered by another quarter of a second, giving an early indication of what was to come.
Basha emerged at the top of the Class C timesheets, ahead of Gossman with Philip Croeser (ATE Polo), Dawie van der Merwe (Lee Thompson Racing Polo) and Zaeem Goolam (Dicktator/Praga Karts Polo) completing the top five.
When the lights went out at the start of the opening race, Ramsay grabbed an immediate lead from Atkinson, but it was not to last. A broken throttle cable after just two laps saw him rendered a spectator and allowed Atkinson into the lead, a position he held without trouble until the flag. Masters claimed second place with Meintjes in the final podium spot. Van der Walt lost contact with the leading trio a couple of laps from the end but was able to hang on to fourth ahead of Dangor and Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Polo). Mike Barbaglia managed to hold off Ronaldo Verolini to take seventh.
Kriel had no problem in the opening race, grabbing the lead from the start and slowly pulling away at the front, going on to win by just over six seconds. Behind him, the father and son Holliday duo together with Furci were involved in an entertaining battle for the remaining podium positions. Holliday Snr ran into problems a couple of laps before the end but, by that time, Jacques Smith (Dirt Nurse Polo), who had got the better of his contest with Stuart Mack (Race Technology Polo), joined Holliday Jnr and Furci, keeping it a three-way fight for two podium spots. Holliday Jnr took second followed by Furci with Smith a car length adrift. Mack took fifth with van der Merwe in sixth just ahead of Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozi Drive Polo). Christiaan de Wet (MotorMart Klerksdorp Polo) claimed the final points paying position.
Gossman had things largely his own way at the front of Class C on his way to a comfortable win. Behind him, Basha and van der Merwe had a great battle until a mistake by Basha allowed van der Merwe through into second, a position he held until the flag. Goolam crossed the line in fourth but was penalized for contact on the opening lap with Croeser, dropping him down to fifth and giving fourth place to Croeser.
In Race 2 Atkinson took the lead from the start and lead all 10 laps, controlling things from the front on his way to a six-second victory. Behind him Meintjes, Ramsay and Masters were fighting for the minor podium positions until gearbox problems slowed Ramsay. He dropped back, eventually finishing in fifth place just behind van der Walt and ahead of Dangor. Masters got the better of Meintjes to take second. Smalberger finished in seventh with Kyle Robinson (VW Polo), whose first race came to a premature end after being turned by another competitor, in eighth.
Napier, after being handed a 30-second penalty for a jump start in the opening race, made no mistake at the beginning of the second race and tucked in behind Class B leader Kriel, the pair slowly opening a gap over the chasing pack although Kriel was still very much in control. Unfortunately for Kriel, a technical infringement resulted in his exclusion and handed Napier his first win in only his second event. Behind him, no quarter was asked nor given. Furci was next over the line, but a 10-second penalty for a driving infringement dropped him down to fifth place behind Holliday Snr leaving Holliday Jnr and Smith in second and third respectively. De Wet went two better than in the first race coming home in sixth, just ahead of Dale and Mack.
Gossman led Class C at the start, but Basha was in no mood to be denied and took the lead on the second lap. He was joined by van der Merwe and the pair swapped positions a couple of times, but it was Basha who was in front at the flag with van der Merwe just over half-a-second back. Gossman was a couple of car lengths back in third. Croeser was fourth ahead of Goolam.
In the overall standings on the day, Atkinson took Class A from Masters and Meintjes. Class B went to Holliday Jnr with Smith and Furci joining him on the podium while Gossman claimed Class C with van der Merwe and Basha filling the minor placings.
The MotorMart VW Challenge now head south of Johannesburg for the third round of the 2019 championship which takes place at Midvaal Raceway in Meyerton on Saturday, 13 April.