Stiaan Kriel (Pozidrive / Kalex Polo) and Roberto Joaquim (Cool Freeze / Auto Aircon Polo) both had the best possible starts to their season when they took a full-house of points in their respective classes at the opening round of the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge, held at Midvaal Raceway on Saturday, 17 February.
Kriel showed that he meant business in the morning qualifying session, setting a time nearly three-quarters of a second quicker than his closest class A challenger, Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) with former class B champion Nic Clarke (Avo Performance Suspension Polo) just 0.04 seconds further back. Lyle Ramsay (Monroe Racing RSA Polo) was next up ahead of Waldie Meintjes (Marty’s Panel Beaters Polo) and Quinton Needham (MotorMart Klerksdorp Polo).
In class B Joaquim just managed to get the better of Jacques Smith (JN Sport Polo) with John Johnstone (Golf) and Chris Dale (Pozidrive Polo) on the second row of the grid. Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo) and Wouter Roos (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo) rounded out the top six. Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) was the only class C competitor who made it out for the session and set a time quicker than some of the class B competitors to take pole.
When the lights went out to signal the start of the first race, Kriel immediately grabbed the lead and slowly pulled away from the chasing pack to take a comfortable win. Atkinson and Clarke did their best to keep Kriel honest but the former Capetonian had the better of them, winning by almost six seconds. Atkinson eventually had to settle for second with Clarke third. Needham was next ahead of Meintjes and Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo).
Joaquim used his pole position to good advantage, just managing to hold off Smith in the early stages before going on to take a comfortable class B win after Smith’s car developed a misfire. Smith’s misfortune allowed Dale through into second with Roos completing the podium. Johnstone just managed to hold off series sponsor Dangor to take fourth with Reno van Heerden (KWC Polo) not far behind in sixth. Croeser got the better of Christiaan de Wet (MotorMart Polo) to take the class C win.
It was more of the same in the second class A race with Atkinson and Clarke trying to hunt down Kriel. Clarke was sidelined early on when a wheel bearing let go, allowing Needham to come through and take the final podium position. Meintjes took fourth ahead of Wayne Crous (Delway Polo) and Masters.
The class B rivals produced a great race at the head of the pack. Dale got the jump at the start and, for over half the race, led the way until Joaquim pulled an ambitious passing manoeuvre at the end of the long back straight. He was able to hang on a take his second win of the day, closely followed by Dale. Roos was their closest challenger until overheating problems forced him out. This left Johnstone to take the final podium position, just a second ahead of Dangor. Lindsay Clur (Mirage Leisure Polo) and Mauritz Nigrini (FJM Performance Polo) rounded out the top six.
In class C Croeser didn’t have it all his own way. He had to fight to get past de Wet who grabbed the early lead. He did, however, find a way through and hung on to cross the line just three tenths to the good.
Kriel and Joaquim share the top spot in the overall championship after their Midvaal clean sweeps, with Atkinson and Dale locked in third place behind them. Battle will resume on 17 March at Zwartkops Raceway, west of Pretoria, when the second round of the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge takes place.
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.