Championship contenders Stiaan Kriel (Pozidrive/Kalex Polo) and Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) shared the Class A wins at the seventh round of the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge, held at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 20 October. The opening heat in Class B went to Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozidrive Polo) before Stuart Mack (Race Technology Polo) bounced back to take the second race. Christiaan de Wet (MotorMart Polo) and newcomer Andrea Furci (Polo) each took a Class C win.
Saturday morning’s qualifying session came to a premature end when a multiple-car collision occurred at turn 1 after an oil spill. When the red flag came out Kriel had just set the fastest lap of the session, giving him pole position. Lyle Ramsay was the second of the Class A cars, but he was embroiled in the first corner incident, leaving his Monroe Racing RSA/Fuchs Lubricants Polo on the side-lines for the rest of the day. Waldie Meintjes (Technikon Auto Spares Polo) was also involved in the crash, rendering his third position moot. Championship co-leader heading into the day, Atkinson was fourth quickest, ahead of Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) and Andre Calitz (Full Blast Hydraulics and AC Honed Polo), who was also unable to take his place on the grid after his car was damaged in the accident.
In Class B, Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) led the way from Roberto Joaquim (Cool Freeze/Auto Aircon Polo) and Jacques Smith (BPM Engineering Polo) with Dale in fourth. In the father and son battle, Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo) got the better of Deon Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) to take fifth. Furci led the way in Class C ahead of Philip Croser (ATE Brakes Polo) who suffered the most damage in the turn 1 incident. De Wet had to settle for third.
In the opening race, Kriel grabbed the lead from the start and soon opened a gap over the chasing pack which was led by Atkinson who had Bevin Masters not far behind him. While they couldn’t catch Kriel, they had a great scrap with Masters in front when the flag came out after 10 laps of great racing. Quinton Needham (MotorMart Polo) claimed fourth with Gavin Ross (Norbrake Polo) having his best finish of the season in fifth. Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo) had to settle for sixth ahead of Mike Barbaglia (Litemart Polo) and newcomer Jaco Nel (Polo).
Joaquim looked like he was going to take an easy victory in class B, opening up a two-second advantage after just a couple of laps but, when his gear linkage, failed Dale inherited the lead. Deon Holliday Jnr pressured Dale for the remained of the race but Dale was able to stay in front, crossing the line just three-tenths in front. Mack was caught out by the red flag in the qualifying session and had to start from ninth on the grid. He slowly worked his way through the traffic to claim third ahead of pole sitter van Zyl. Gareth Lyke (GTR Performance Polo) finished in fifth, ahead of Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo). Reno Van Heerden (Monster Polo) and Elna Croeser (Race Technology Polo) rounded out the top eight. Championship leader Smith had a disappointing race. His Polo developed a misfire and instead of challenging for the lead as he had hoped, he slowly dropped down the field to eventually finish out of the points. Class C went the way of de Wet from Furci.
In the second race, Kriel had an off-track excursion on the opening lap that dropped him down the field and allowed Atkinson to open up a gap at the front. While Kriel was working his way back through the field, Atkinson extended his advantage over the rest but Kriel was in no mood to be denied and by the end of the fourth lap he had got past Bevin Masters to take second. He was able to close the gap to Atkinson but couldn’t find a way through and had to settle for second ahead of Masters. Wayne Masters just managed to hold off Needham to take fourth with Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Polo), who missed the first race due to damage sustained in the qualifying accident, in sixth. Barbaglia took the points for seventh with Almero van Eck (Remington Polo) in eighth.
Mack used pole position, garnered by virtue of his fastest lap time in race 1, to good advantage, taking the lead from the start and going on to win by two-and-a-half seconds. In the early stages, he was chased by Joaquim but a recurrence of the gear linkage problems he suffered in the first race saw him drop out of contention. This left the Hollidays to battle it out for the remaining podium positions, Deon Jnr getting the better of his father by just a tenth at the flag. They had van Zyl less than a second behind with Dale another three tenths back in fifth. Greg Gossman (111 Plumbers Polo) fared much better in the second race, taking sixth place from van Heerden and Dangor. Furci claimed Class C by less than six one-hundredths of a second from de Wet.
Kriel topped Class A from Atkinson and Bevin Masters in the day’s overall standings. Despite missing out in the first race, his comfortable win in the second was enough to give Mack the biggest of the Class B trophies with Holliday Jnr and Dale joining him on the podium. Class C went to de Wet from Furci.
As has been the case all season, the margin at the top of the overall championship standings is paper thin. Kriel now heads the log by just a single point from Atkinson with Smith still in third despite not scoring any points at Zwartkops.
The final round of the MotorMart VW Challenge is just three weeks away. It takes place at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 10 November.