Lyle Ramsay (Fuchs Lubricants Polo) and Rory Atkinson (BHIT VW Polo) shared the Class A wins at the second round of the 2020 Pozidrive VW Challenge, held at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 14 March. Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) took both heats in Class B while Andy Gossman (Pozidrive Polo) and series newcomer Roland Hopkins (Rietchard Scrap Metals Polo) each took a Class C victory
Atkinson set the quickest time during Friday’s practice sessions, so it was no surprise when he topped the timesheets during qualifying on Saturday morning. The unexpected time came from Ramsay, who spent Friday chasing a decent set-up on his car. He was just eight one-hundredths of a second slower than the championship leader and joined him on the front row of the grid. Youngster Dawie van der Merwe in his newly branded Universal Healthcare Polo lined up third next to Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo) who set the fourth quickest time despite only being able to get two quick laps in before his gearbox lost its oil. Chris Dale (Pozidrive Polo) and Wayne Masters (Performance Masters Polo) rounded out the top six.
Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) claimed his first Class B pole position from Holliday with Robyn Kruger (Kalex/Motor Mart Polo) just a hundredth of a second further back. Elna Croeser (Race Technology Polo) had to settle for fourth ahead of Sam Dale (Pozidrive Polo) and Charisse van der Merwe (Polo).
In Class C, the entire field was separated by less than three-tenths of a second, with Gossman leading the way from Adriaan de Beer (Zonke WiFi Polo), Hopkins, Philip Croeser (ATE Brakes Polo) and Reno van Heerden (Polo).
In the opening heat, Ramsay got a great start and grabbed the lead from Atkinson. The pair slowly pulled away from the chasing pack, never separated by more than a couple of car lengths, until they caught and started lapping the slower Class C cars. Ramsay had a slightly easier path through the lapped traffic which allowed him to open up a slight gap and take the win by just over a second. Behind them, Bevin Masters and Dawie van der Merwe spent the entire 10 laps of the race fighting for the final podium position, which eventually went to Masters. There was another two-way battle for fifth with Wayne Masters taking it by just over half a second from Smalberger. Mike Barbaglia brought his Litemart Polo home in seventh.
Basha was the early Class B leader from pole position but Holliday was not to be denied and moved into the lead on the second lap. From there, nobody could touch him and he went on to take the win by over four seconds. Behind him things got interesting. Contact between Basha and Kriel put both of them out of the running, leaving Elna Croeser to lead the chasing pack from Robbie da Silva (Motor Mart/SKR Polo). Former VW Challenge competitor Sam Dale, back in South Africa for a short holiday, chased da Silva to the line with Andre Needham (Megafibre Polo) in fifth. Bryce Pillay, having his first outing in his FK Automotive/Techtisa Polo, came home in sixth ahead of Lindsay Clur (Mirage Leisure Polo) and Gavin Ross (Norbrake/Metal Used Spares Polo).
A expected after the close qualifying times, Class C was tight all the way through the race. Gossman, with the advantage of pole position, took the win from de Beer and Hopkins who had van Heerden on his back bumper. Philip Croeser had to settle for fifth.
With the grid positions for the second race determined by the fastest lap time set in the opening heat, it was Atkinson who lined up on pole position ahead of Bevin Masters. Atkinson immediately grabbed the lead and raced off into the distance to take his third heat win of the season. Behind him, Masters had a somewhat lonely path to second while Ramsay, who got another good start, dropped back slightly after half-distance and had to settle for fourth behind Dawie van der Merwe. Smalberger and Wayne Masters resumed their first-race fight with Smalberger coming out on top this time. Barbaglia again ended in seventh with Pierluigi Muzzulini (FFS International Polo) in eighth.
Holliday again led the way in Class B, but this time he didn’t have things all his own way. He was chased every lap by Kruger who finished less than half a second behind the Monitor Net driver. Basha avoided trouble in the second heat to come home in third, ahead of da Silva who just held off Elna Croeser. A broken gear linkage cost Stuart Mack (Pozidrive Polo) any chance of points in the first race, but he managed to keep Charisse van der Merwe behind him in the second race to take sixth. Sam Dale rounded out the top eight.
It was another close battle in Class C with Gossman fighting his way through the field after a spin in the first corner. He was able to work his way up to second behind Hopkins by the time the flag came out. After leading the race in the early stages, Van Heerden had to settle for the final podium position, managing to hold off Philip Croeser and de Beer.
A second place in the opening heat followed by a comfortable win in the second gave Atkinson the overall win in Class A, Bevin Masters and Ramsay joined him on the podium. Holliday took Class B from Elna Croeser and da Silva while Hopkins walked away with Class C on his debut. Gossman and de Beer ended in second and third respectively.
The Pozidrive VW Challenge drivers return to Zwartkops Raceway on 3 & 4 April for the third round of the 2020 championship.