As he did the last time the series visited Zwarkops Raceway, Lyle Ramsay piloted his Monroe Racing/Fuchs Lubricants Polo to two hard-fought Class A wins during the sixth round of the 2019 MotorMart VW Challenge Championship on Saturday, 17 August. Stiaan Kriel (MotorMart/Kalex Polo) was untouchable in Class B, taking two dominant wins, while Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) emerged with both Class C victories.
The morning qualifying session gave an indication of what was to come in the day’s races, with Ramsay and Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) comfortably quicker than the rest of the field. Atkinson claimed pole position with Ramsay alongside him on the front row. Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) was the quickest of the rest, just three one-hundredths quicker than Waldie Meintjes (Allwagen Parts Polo). Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo) and Ronaldo Verolini (Polo) shared the third row of the grid with Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozidrive Polo) and Gavin Ross (Norbrake Polo) rounding out the top eight.
Kriel was three-quarters of a second quicker than Elna Croeser (Race Technology Polo) at the head of Class B. Stuart Mack, in the second Race Technology Polo, was less than a tenth behind Croeser in third. He had Charisse van der Merwe (GTR Performance Polo) alongside him on the second row. Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo) and Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) occupied row three with Reno van Heerden (Taurus Polo) and Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) behind them.
Dawie van der Merwe (Lee Thompson Polo) just got the better of Basha to take Pole position in Class C. They were followed by Andy Gossman (Allwagen Parts Polo), Zaeem Goolam (Dicktator Polo) and newcomer Roland Hopkins (Allwagen Parts Polo).
In the opening race, Ramsay grabbed an immediate lead and was able to open up a gap over Atkinson which had grown to almost one and a half seconds by the rime the flag came out ten laps later. Behind the leading pair, Meintjes and Masters had a race-long tussle that went the way of Meintjes. Dangor spent most of the race keeping a watching brief on the battle between Meintjes and Masters but ran wide on the penultimate lap. While he was able to regain the circuit without losing a position, any chance he had of mounting a challenge had gone and he had to settle for fifth. Verolini was less than a second further back with Dale in seventh. Ross, who had been challenging Verolini for position, ran wide at the same corner as Dangor and dropped back to eighth.
In Class B Kriel took the lead from the start opening a gap of over a second on the first lap and extending that each tour to take the flag almost seven seconds ahead of Croeser who had Mack right behind her as he had been all race. Holliday Jnr had a great start, moving up to fourth by the end of the opening lap, but his gearbox cried enough after three laps, leaving him a spectator. Behind the leading trio, a four-way battle between van der Merwe, Holliday Snr, van Heerden and Jacques Smith (Liability Matters Polo) developed with van Zyl and Sohel Patel (Future Phambili/SignInk Polo) not far behind. Contact between van der Merwe and one of the other competitors brought her race to an end with the remaining drivers continuing their battle. Things spread out towards the end of the race with Holliday Snr opening up an advantage over the rest to take fourth. He was followed over the line by van Heerden and Smith with Patel just holding off van Zyl to take seventh.
Class C saw van der Merwe and Basha continuing their battle for supremacy with van der Merwe crossing the line ahead of Basha. He was, however, found to have caused avoidable contact by the race officials and the subsequent penalty hand the win to Basha. Behind them, Gossman had to fight back from an early mistake that dropped him to the back of the field to take third ahead of Goolam and Hopkins.
Ramsay again grabbed the lead in Class A when the lights went out at the start of the second heat and was able to keep Atkinson behind him until the half-way mark when a mistake by Atkinson allowed him an easy passage to victory. Atkinson’s error saw him having to fight off Meintjes to hold on to second place, which he was able to do to take the runners-up spot for the second time on the day. Ross had his best race for a while, finishing a comfortable fourth ahead of Dangor who spent much of the race in an entertaining battle with Verolini. Dale had to settle for seventh with Banie van Dyk (SA Milling Polo) claiming his first point of the season for eighth place.
Kriel disappeared at the front of Class B as he did in the first race leaving teammates Croeser and Mack to fight it out for the remaining podium positions. Croeser was again able to stay ahead of Mack and claim another well-deserved second place. For the second race in succession, Holliday Jnr had a great start and was fighting with Croeser and Mack for a podium until he came to a halt with a couple of laps to go. This left his father in fourth ahead of Smith who got the better of an early battle with van Heerden. Van der Merwe was able to hold off Patel to take seventh.
Basha and van der Merwe resumed their battle at the head of Class C, spending the entire race within a couple of car lengths of each other. Basha managed to hang on to the lead despite the constant pressure from behind to take another win. Gossman took another third place with Hopkins getting the better of Goolam to take fourth.
In the day’s overall standings, Ramsay took Class A from Atkinson and Meintjes with Kriel the comfortable victor in Class B with Croeser and Mack joining him on the podium. Basha won Class C from van der Merwe and Gossman.
The MotorMart VW Challenge drivers now make their way to Port Elizabeth where the seventh round of the championship will take place at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack on Saturday, 21 September.