Sunday, 14 May 2017 00:00

Gti’s on the Night Shift

Another spectacular display of close racing as the Bold Marine Gti Challenge wrapped up the 4th round of this amazing 2017 season at the Killarney International Raceway.


This round the drivers faced a different procedure to the regular as the qualifying session moved from its usual Saturday morning slot to the Friday evening before race day. This provided an interesting twist as quite a few of the competitors have not been around the circuit after the sun had set.


It was lights a blaze and the roaring of the mighty VW engines which made for a spectacular scene and display of some fierce tussles as each driver wanted to come out on the top step of their class for Saturday’s 1st heat. Although the visibility was reduced this did not stop the competitors from going flat out and posting some impressive times.


In class A it was long time veteran & wildcard entry Jano van der Westhuizen (Wingfield Motors/Kwikfix Polo Vivo) who came out with the pole position. He narrowly managed to pip the lighting fast Jurie Swart Jnr (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic) to the top spot by a mere 0.041s and showing van der Westhuizen that the class honours would not be a walk in the park. Putting his vehicle 3rd on the grid was Shane du Toit (KSD/Skilpadvlei Wine Farm Jetta II) from John Craig Jnr (John Craig Motorsport Polo Vivo) and Pieter Kriel (Genesis Coatings Golf I GTi) rounding out the top 5.


Missing from the class was Colin Meder (International Tube Technology Polo 6R GTi) who was plagued with camshaft issues and decided to withdraw from this round and resolve the issues for the next round. Kriel managed to make it to the grid for qualifying but could just not rid himself of the bad luck which has followed him all season. With the engine again suffering breathing issues, Kriel withdrew on Saturday before the 1st heat and needs to head back to the drawing board to get his vehicle back to top condition.


Saturday morning saw class A come to the line with only 4 cars on the grid and all drivers looking to claim class honours. As the lights went out it was van der Westhuizen who lead from Swart Jnr and du Toit. Swart Jnr took the fight to van der Westhuizen as both drivers put their Engen VW cup experience to good use. On lap 5 of the 1st heat Swart Jnr then put his nose ahead of van der Westhuizen coming into turn 5 to take the lead with van der Westhuizen remaining hot on the tail of Swart Jnr. It was bumper-to-bumper racing as neither driver was willing to back down.


On the very next lap van der Westhuizen lunged back at Swart Jnr to retake the lead as the 2 leaders were at each other’s throats in a fierce combat for the win. Van der Westhuizen just managed to open up a slight margin over Swart Jnr to claim victory with du Toit coming home in a lonely 3rd position and completing the class was Craig Jnr in P4.


For the 2nd heat it was Swart Jnr who managed to snatch pole from van der Westhuizen with du Toit in P3 and Craig Jnr rounding out the class on the grid. Swart Jnr & van der Westhuizen both got a great launch off the line with the 2 side by side going to turn 1 and du Toit just behind. Determined to make up for the 1st heat, du Toit remained in close proximity to the 2 leaders and on lap 4 du Toit briefly took 2nd position from van der Westhuzien. Van der Westhuizen then initiated an attack on du Toit to reclaim P2 but du Toit shut the door firmly on van der Westhuizen coming into turn 5.


However van der Westhuizen got amazing drive coming out of turn 5 and grabbed 2nd position back from du Toit and set his sights on catching leader Swart Jnr. The battle intensified as van der Westhuizen put the hammer down and saw him and Swart Jnr come into turn 5 on the next lap neck on neck as Swart Jnr took the inside line to defend his lead. Van der Westhuizen persevered and managed to finally retake the lead on lap 6. This was enough to give van der Westhuizen his 2nd victory for the day from Swart Jnr & du Toit and Craig Jnr in P3 & P4 respectfully.


In class B it was no surprise to see Jacques Geldhenhuys (Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf II GTi) & current class B champion Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD Performance Golf I GTi) in a battle for top step. With Geldenhuys seeking some redemption after a dreadful 3rd round, the ex-champ put his vehicle on pole from Thompson and Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II) after Roux missed the previous round. A faultless drive awarded Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi) P4 with 2016 rookie of the year Earl Josephs (Slivermoon Roofing Golf I GTi) completing the top 5 in class.


Off the line it was Geldenhuys who held his advantage over Thompson with Roux holding station in P3. It was looking like a 3 way battle for the lead when on lap 4 Roux picked up issues with his vehicle which saw the class A exile drop away from the front runners. Field then benefited from Roux’s issues to inherit P3 and maintained his strong run to hold onto the last place of the podium.


However the class B action remained at the front of the field as Thompson was locked into another scorcher of a dice with Geldenhuys. The 2 fought mirror-to-mirror in a bid for class honours but it was Geldenhuys who submerged victorious in a flag-to-flag style race with Field claiming the final step on the podium. A strong drive from Josephs was enough to hand the 2016 rookie a solid P4 after the ace also missed the previous round. Completing the top 5 was father to Earl, Norman Josephs (Silvermoon Roofing Polo Classic).


This result was exactly what the doctor ordered for Geldenhuys as it was the perfect remedy after his round 3 controversy. The ex-champ continued his domination by acquiring double pole from Thompson and Roux with younger Josephs & Field swopping positions for the 2nd heat.


Lights out it was no surprise as Geldenhuys again held the advantage over Thompson & Roux to lead the trio into turn 1. With Roux wanting to forget about his 1st heat dismay, he was determined to make up his earlier loss and made the fight for class honours a 3-way affair. This time around Thompson drove the wheels off his vehicle and pushed Geldenhuys in each and every corner showing his nose a few times to the ex-champ. But Geldenhuys held his composure spectacularly to take the chequered flag for the 2nd time in fine style from Thompson and Roux in a closely contested class battle.


Coming home in P4 with another faultless performance was younger Josephs and Field to round out the top 5 in class B. With Field’s excellent performance and the demise of Roux in the 1st heat, Field’s hard work paid off to see the latter claim 3rd overall for the day.


In class C it was an outright day of domination by the Busi bothers as they were in a class of their own. Marco Busi (Automan Golf I GTi) was unfazed by the darkness as the ace put his vehicle on pole for heat 1 from Christopher Swart (Jacks Paint & Hardware Edgemead Golf I GTi) and younger Brother Dario Busi (Automan Polo Playa). Another driver not deterred by the darkness was Jaco Lambert (BGA Auto/Paint Chemistry Golf I GTi) who placed his vehicle in P4 with rookie Ian Kapp (Hydracor Hydraulics Golf I GTi) in a stunning P5. Kapp showing remarkable improvement with each passing round.


The session did not go well for current class & overall champion Bryan Morgan (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi) as the champ was off the pace from the front runners. After a brief diagnosis the champion’s vehicle suffered from a fuel pump failure and could not be repaired before the session ended. This meant that the champion would start the first heat at the back of the field and had a mammoth task for the next day.


As the lights went out it was Marco who escaped and opened an early gap to younger brother Dario with Gideon Serfontien (Goeiehoop Onderdele Golf I GTi) holding firm in P3 and a hard charging Morgan who sliced through the field to a strong 4th position by the end of the 1st lap. Morgan kept pushing and edged closer to Serfontien with each passing lap in a bid to salvage the final podium position after his bad fate in qualifying. Eventually on lap 6 Morgan managed to catch and pass Serfontien for P3 but Serfontien remained on the tail of Morgan and was determined to reclaim the final spot. Serfontien was eventually rewarded as he retook 3rd on the final lap to cross the line ahead of Morgan and Dillon Joubert (TAC Steel/Powder Coating World Golf I GTi).


Unable to make the start for heat 1 was Swart who pulled into the pits on the warm-up lap after 1 of the tires came off the rim and prevented latter from participation.


With the champion narrowly missing out on a podium finish, Morgan was determined to take the fight to both Busi brothers and managed to place his vehicle in P2 after Marco acquired double pole and younger Dario in P3 for the 2nd heat. Another surprise unfolded as Kapp managed to better his starting position for the 2nd heat with a 4th and Serfontien rounding out the top 5.


The lights went out for the 2nd heat and again it was Marco who got the holeshot from Morgan with young Dario in a great P3. Morgan remained on the rear bumper of Marco for the opening laps when Morgan’s car developed issues to see the champion fall into the clutches of younger Dario and see the young latter claim 2nd position. Just when Morgan thought his day couldn’t get any worse, the champion was blacked flagged on lap 4 as the officials deemed his vehicle unsafe to compete in the remainder of the heat.


With Marco running away with the victory and young Dario opening up a sufficient margin from the rest of the pack, an interesting tussle developed between Serfontien & Lambert for final step on the podium. It was a tight contest until lap 6 when Lambert finally got the better of Serfontien and slowly managed to edge away and claim the final podium place with Swart making a superb recovery to round out the top 5 after having started from the back of the field.


Completing the class C field was Gert Du Plessis ( & Alfie Van Zyl (Union Signs).


As usual the Bold Marine Gti Challenge provided some immense entertainment for the masses and put on an excellent display of driving. With the halfway mark of the campaign coming up next month, the competition is hotting up into a fierce fight with each round having a fair share of controversy and dismay.


Be sure not to miss the 5th round of the Bold Marine Gti Challenge which is set to take place on the 3rd of June at the Killarney International Raceway in conjunction with the Wingfield Power Series.


-          Written By: Byron Wanza