Ramsay conquers the Winter Challenge

Lyle Ramsay (Monroe Racing/Fuchs Lubricants Polo) has had a difficult start to the 2019 season, with numerous mechanical gremlins preventing him from showing his true potential. He put that behind him at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 29 June when he won both heats at the fourth round of the MotorMart VW Challenge championship. Jacques Smith (Dirt Nurse Polo) took the opening Class B heat before Stiaan Kriel got his MotorMart/Kalex Polo performing like it should and took a comfortable win in the second heat. Both Class C heats went to Dawie van der Merwe (Lee Thompson Racing Polo).

Lyle Ramsay
Lyle Ramsay leads the way in the opening race

In Friday afternoon’s qualifying session Ramsay just did enough to take pole position from current champion Rory Atkinson (BHIT Polo) with Waldie Meintjes (Allwagen Parts Polo) just a thousandth of a second quicker than Mohamed Dangor (MotorMart Polo) to head the second row of the grid. JP van der Walt (Platinum Wheels Polo) was a tenth behind Dangor in fifth ahead of Ronaldo Verolini (Polo) in sixth. Gavin Ross (Norbrake/Metal Used Spares Polo) and Chris Dale (Blue Belt/Pozidrive Polo), who was making his first Class A appearance, rounded out the top eight.

Kriel managed to claim the Class B pole from Smith, setting his quickest lap before a suspected fuel pump problem slowed him down. Deon Holliday Jnr (Monitor Net Polo) outdid his father Deon Snr (Centparts VW Polo) to take third ahead of Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) and Stuart Mack (Race Technology SA Polo) who filled the third row of the grid. Charisse van der Merwe (GTR Performance Polo) was just behind them with Lindsay Clur (Mirage Leisure Polo) in eighth.

Van der Merwe led the way in Class C with Farhaan Basha (Motronix Polo) not far behind. Andy Gossman (Allwagen Parts Polo) had to settle for third behind the youngster, with Elna Croeser (ATE Polo) and Reno van Heerden (Taurus Polo) completing the grid.

Ramsay used his pole position to good effect, grabbing the early lead from Atkinson and Meintjes, but there was drama behind them. Dale got it sideways coming through Turn 8 for the first time forcing another four cars to take evasive action. Unfortunately for Dale, Eric Gander (MyDNA Choices.com Polo) couldn’t avoid him, putting both of them out of the race. Ramsay and Atkinson swapped positions at the front, but Ramsay was able to regain the position and hold it to the flag. Behind the leading duo, Meintjes was relatively comfortable in third ahead of Bevin Masters (The CPS Warehouse Polo), who charged through from the back of the Class A field after he didn’t set a time on qualifying. Dangor had to settle for fifth ahead of van der Walt with Verolini and Mike Barbaglia (Polo) in seventh and eighth respectively.

Jacques Smith
Jacques Smith leads Deon Holliday Snr and Stuart Mack

Despite some frantic work by his crew to repair the fuel system in his car, Kriel didn’t make it to the grid in time to take up his pole position and had to start from the back. This allowed Smith to grab the lead and open up a gap to the chasing pack. Kriel was working his way through the field, but a broken fuel rail brought a premature end to his race. Behind Smith, Holliday Snr led the way with Mack, van Zyl, van der Merwe and Holliday Jnr all in the mix. After 10 laps of hard-fought action, Smith was still in front, almost a second ahead of Holliday Jnr, with Mack in third just in front of van Zyl. Holliday Snr dropped down to sixth behind van der Merwe with Graeme Nathan (Polo) in seventh ahead of Robbie da Silva (MotorMart Polo).

Dawie van der Merwe
Class C winner Dawie van der Merwe

Basha tried everything he could, including a final lap lunge that cost him his front bumper, to get past van der Merwe at the front of Class C, but the class championship leader was able to take the win. Behind them, Croeser was able to hold off van Heerden to take third.

In Race 2 Atkinson started from pole with Masters alongside him and Ramsay directly behind. Ramsay went around the outside of Atkinson in turn one while Masters used the inside line to take the lead, but it didn’t last very long as he out-braked himself in turn two and dropped to the back of the Class A field. This allowed Ramsay through into the lead with Atkinson in his wheel tracks. The pair slowly opened a gap to the rest of the field, which was led by van der Walt who had Meintjes on his back bumper. The top four held station until the flag while Masters slowly worked his way back through the field for the second race in succession, getting up to fifth by the time he ran out of laps. Verolini just got the better of Dangor to take sixth with Andrea Furci (Polo) rounding out the top eight.

Stiaan Kriel
Stiaan Kriel had a comfortable win in the second Class B heat

Kriel lined up fifth on the Class B grid in the second race, but a flyer of a start had him in the lead by the time the pack came out of Turn 1. He was followed by van Zyl with Smith, Mack and Holliday Snr fighting for third at the end of the opening lap. While Kriel disappeared at the front, Smith and Mack slowly closed the gap to van Zyl, making it a three-way battle for the remaining podium positions. An off-track excursion through Turn 4 by van Zyl and Smith on the final lap allowed Mack to take second. Smith managed to hang on to third ahead of van der Merwe who was six tenths ahead of Holliday Jnr. Van Zyl regained the track to take sixth ahead of Holliday Snr and Nathan.

Basha was the early leader in Class C but van der Merwe found a way through and was able to stay in front until the flag while Basha dropped back, eventually crossing the line in fifth. Gossman, whose first race ended in the tyre barriers, was able to bounce back and take second ahead of Croeser and van Heerden.

Ramsay’s two wins gave him overall victory in Class A with Atkinson and Meintjes joining him on the podium. Mack took Class B from Smith and Holliday Jnr while Class C went the way of van der Merwe with Basha and Croeser in second and third respectively.

The MotorMart VW Challenge competitors now make their way to Red Star Raceway, just outside Delmas, where the fifth round of the 2019 championship will take place on Saturday, 20 July.