After coming close in 2017 and 2018, Stiaan Kriel (MotorMart/Kalex Polo) claimed every point on offer at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 9 November to secure the 2019 MotorMart VW Challenge Championship. Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo), the only driver who could prevent Kriel from taking the title, could only manage two hard-fought third places in Class A and had to settle for second in the overall championship standings with Lyle Ramsay (Monroe Racing RSA/Fuchs Lubricants Polo), who took both Class A wins on the day, cementing his third place on the overall log.
Ramsay, who had won four of his last six outings at Zwartkops, looked to build on those performances when he claimed pole position in Saturday morning’s qualifying session, although it was a close-run thing. Atkinson was just 0.014” behind him. Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) and Waldie Meintjes (Allwagen Parts Polo) were next up with JP van der Walt (Platinum Wheels Polo) and newly-crowned Class C champion Dawie van der Merwe, who was making his Class A debut in the Lee Thompson Racing Polo, in fifth and sixth. Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozzidrive Polo) and Mike Barbaglia (Litemart Polo) rounded out the top eight.
Kriel was comfortably the quickest of the Class B brigade, lapping the 2.4km Zwartkops circuit nearly quarter of a second quicker than Jacques Smith (Liability Matters/Dirt Nurse Polo). Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) and Stuart Mack (Race Technology SA Polo) occupied the second row of the grid with Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) and Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo), out in a borrowed car after his Class A polo blew its motor in one of Friday’s practice sessions, behind them. Charisse van der Merwe (GTR Performance Polo) just got the better of Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo) to take seventh.
Class C went to Andy Gossman (Allwagen Parts Polo) ahead of son Greg in another Allwagen Parts Polo with Graeme Nathan, out in the ATE Polo normally piloted by Philip Croeser, in third ahead of Adriaan de Beer (Polo) and Christopher Pretorious (Lee Thompson Racing Polo).
In the opening race, Atkinson was the early leader but Ramsay found a way through before the end of the opening lap. Some robust racing saw paint being traded on a regular basis but Ramsay was able to remain in front. Masters took advantage of the chaos in the early stages of the race to move up to second while Atkinson dropped down to sixth behind van der Walt, Meintjes and Dale. Atkinson knew he had to win to stand any chance of preventing Kriel from taking the overall championship and pushed hard to work his way back up through the field, Three laps later he was back up to third, but could not close the gap to Ramsay and Masters. Meintjes got past van der Walt to take fourth with Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Polo) working his way through the field to sixth. Barbaglia and Almero van Eck (Polo) completed the top eight.
In Class B, Kriel had things all his own way at the front once he had seen off the opening lap challenge from Smith. Behind the leading duo, Mack and Holliday Jnr were fighting for the final podium position until a broken accelerator cable in Holliday Jnr’s Polo left Mack a relatively easy run to third. Dangor just got the better of van Zyl to take fourth while Deon Holliday Snr (Centparts Centurion Polo), van der Merwe and Lindsay Clur (Mirage Leisure) filled the remained of the points-paying positions.
Nathan’s chances of a good result in Class C were spoilt when his boot flew open, necessitating an unscheduled pit stop to close it. This left The Gossman duo at the front with de Beer not far behind until Andy Gossman dropped back in the closing stages allowing both de Beer and Greg Gossman through. Andy Gossman recovered to finish third ahead of Pretorious with Nathan a distant fifth.
The second race was interrupted by a fairly lengthy safety car period while the marshals removed one of the Class B cars to a safe position. This left a three-lap sprint to the finish which went to Ramsay with Masters less than half a second back. Atkinson again had to settle for third with Meintjes and van der Walt in fourth and fifth. After a disappointing first race, where contact with Dale left him stranded in the gravel at turn 5, van der Merwe had a much better outing in the second, coming home in sixth just a car length behind van der Walt. Eric Gander (Litemart Polo) and Pierluigi Mzzulini (FFS Polo) rounded out the top eight.
In Class B it was again Kriel leading the way from Smith with van Zyl, who got a flyer off the line, in third. Once the safety car returned to the pits, the order at the front did not change with Kriel claiming the win from Smith with van Zyl managing to hold off Holliday Jnr and Mack to take third. Dangor ended led Holliday Snr and van der Merwe over the line to end in sixth.
Nathan had just moved into the lead of Class C when the safety car came out and when racing resumed, was able to hold off Andy Gossman to take the win. Greg Gossman took third ahead of de Beer and Pretorious.
Ramsay topped the day’s overall standings in Class A with Masters and Atkinson joining him on the podium. Kriel took Class B from Smith and Mack while In the day’s overall standings, Thompson took Class A from Ramsay and Atkinson while Kriel claimed Class B from Smith and Mack. Class C went to Andy Gossman with Greg Gossman and de Beer in second and third.
The MotorMart VW Challenge drivers have one more outing this year, a non-championship event at Kyalami, where they will combine with the Falken Polo Cup drivers in a pair of support races before the 9-Hour which takes place from 21 to 23 November.