Clarke and Atkinson share the wins at a challenging Zwartkops

Heavy rain during the qualifying sessions and a few damp patches on the circuit during the first heats made for tricky conditions during the second round of the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge at Zwartkops Raceway on 17 March 2018. Nic Clarke (Avo Performance Suspension Polo) didn’t let that worry him on his way to victory in the opening class A race while Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) overcame his first-race electronic gremlins to take the second race. Jacques Smith (BPM Engineering Polo) returned to winning ways after a long drought with a double win in class B with Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) taking both class C victories.

Nic Clarke ended up second in a wet qualifying session

Nic Clarke ended up second in a wet qualifying session

Stiaan Kriel (Pozidrive/Kalex Polo) and Clarke traded fastest laps during the class A qualifying session with Kriel finally grabbing pole position from Clarke by just a tenth on his final lap. Atkinson was next up ahead of Waldie Meintjes (Dimension Signs Polo) with Quinton Needham (MotorMart Klerksdorp Polo) and Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo) filling the third row. Lyle Ramsay (Monroe Racing/Fuchs Polo) and Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) rounded out the top eight. The rain hadn’t slowed when the class B & C cars went out for their qualifying session. Roberto Joaquim (Cool Freeze/Auto Aircon Polo) continued where he left off at the opening round, taking the class B pole from Jason Finney who was making a once-off appearance in the LiteMart Polo normally driven by Eric Gander. Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozidrive Polo) was third ahead of Deon Holliday who was making his first appearance of the season in his Nathan’s Motorsport Polo. Rookie Luke Mac Gregor (Grange Workwear 3M Polo) didn’t let the conditions worry him on his way to the fifth fastest time of the session. Smith was sixth ahead of Stuart Mack (Race Technology South Africa Polo) and John Johnstone (Zontes Golf). Croeser claimed class C from Christiaan de Wet (MotorMart Klerksdorp Polo).

In the opening class A race, Kriel did exactly what his did in the first round at Midvaal, grabbing the lead when the lights went out and pulling away from the chasing pack. He crossed the line just over seven seconds ahead of Clarke at the end of the 10-lap race, but it was all for nought as he was excluded for a technical infringement, handing the win to Clarke who finished just ahead of Meintjes. Ramsay slowly worked his way up the field to finish third ahead of the battle of the Masters brothers, Wayne getting the better of Bevin to take fourth. Craig Gammie (GTR Performance) didn’t set a time during qualifying and had to start at the back of the grid. He slowly picked off those in front of him, ending the race in sixth with the Crous brothers taking the final points. Wayne bringing his Toshiba Tech Polo home in seventh ahead Shaun in Ancro Building Projects example.

Jacques Smith eases up the inside of Roberto Joaquim

Jacques Smith eases up the inside of Roberto Joaquim

Joaquim took the early lead in the first class B race but Smith was a man on a mission, getting past Joaquim and Finney in a neat move at the top of the hill on the second lap. Finney followed Smith through and chased him all the way to the flag but couldn’t catch Smith who took his first win in two seasons. Joaquim then had to contend with Dale in the fight for the final podium position which ended with contact between the pair ending Dale’s race with a puncture and dropping Joaquim down the field to eventually finish in eighth. Holliday took advantage of their mishap to claim third ahead of Mack who had Johnstone not far off his back bumper. He, in turn, had Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) in his wheel tracks with Luan Roos (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo) in seventh.

Philip Croeser had to work hard to get past Christiaan de Wet

Philip Croeser had to work hard to get past Christiaan de Wet

Croeser didn’t get a great start in class C and spent the early part of the race catching and then getting past de Wet. Once hid did find his way through, he was able to pull away and take what ended up as a comfortable win.

Rory Atkinson took the second class A race win from Lyle Ramsay

Rory Atkinson took the second class A race win from Lyle Ramsay

The classes were combined for the second race with 35 cars lining up on the grid. Kriel wasn’t able to sort out the technical issues with his car which left Atkinson on pole. He took full advantage of this and took a lights-to-flag win in class A despite a safety car intervention which closed up the field part way through the race. His closest rival was Clarke until a towing eye inside the car came out of its mounting and slid under the brake pedal. The resulting off-track excursion dropped him way down the field. He was eventually able to work his way back to sixth at the flag. With Clarke out of the way, the battle for the remaining podium positions developed into a fight between Ramsay and Meintjes, Ramsay managing to remain in front and take third. Wayne Masters again got the better of brother Bevin to take fourth. Shaun Crous and Gammie rounded out the top eight.

Smith had things a little easier in the class B leading from the start and going on to win by over five seconds from Finney who was pushed all the way by Dale. Deon Holliday Jnr had an eventful path to fourth, starting from pole but dropping back after a poor start and then losing more positions in a second corner incident that also cost Joaquim a good points haul. The safety car played into his hands when it brought the field back together and he was able to then work his way back up the pack. Mack had Johnstone all over the back of his car for much of the race but opened a bit of a gap towards the end, taking fifth. Deon Holliday finished seventh with Joaquim having to settle for eighth. Croeser again got the better of de Wet to take class C.

Consistency on the day paid off for Meintjes. He took the day’s overall class A win from Ramsay and Wayne Masters. Jacques Smith took class B from Jason Finney and Deon Holliday Jnr with Croeser taking the class C spoils from de Wet.

The MotorMart VW Challenge drivers now make the trip down to Cape Town for their annual away race which takes place at the Killarney Raceway on Saturday, 21 April.

The VW Challenge would like to acknowledge the valuable support of their sponsors, MotorMart, ATE Brakes, Dicktator Engine Management Systems, Yaskawa, BPM Engineering and Norbrake who make the series possible.