The spectators of Killarney International Raceway were once again treated to a spectacular display of excellent racing which is synonymous with the Bold Marine Gti Challenge. Round 5 brought about the halfway mark in the championship which saw the drivers step up their attack in an all out brawl for the all elusive victory.
What was merely another round of racing turned into a battle royale which resembled something similar to a finale. The drivers fought tooth and nail with some coming off a little worse for wear.
In Class A, Jano van der Westhuizen (Wingfield Motors/Kwikfix Polo Vivo) once again reigned supreme as the ace claimed the top spot in both heats from Shane du Toit (KSD/Skilpad Wine Farm Jetta II) and Jurie Swart Jnr (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic).
Van der Westhuizen had a tough start to his day as the latter destroyed the clutch plate of his vehicle in qualifying which saw Swart Jnr come away with pole position for the 1st heat and du Toit sharing the front row. Van der Westhuizen was relegated to the back of class however the team had the tough task of getting the car vehicle fixed before the start of the 1st heat.
The biggest casualty in the class was series sponsor Aurther “The Russian” Roberts (Bold Marine/Garden Master Jetta II). Having returned to the shores of Cape Town on Friday morning from Singapore, Roberts looked to stamp his authority on the class after a 1 and half year sabbatical from racing. Luck was not on the cards for Roberts as his motor let go during qualifying and would see an early retirement to the day for The Russian.
As the field lined up in the pre race paddock, van der Westhuizen and the team were still franticly busy in the pit area putting the vehicle back together. It looked as time was against van der Westhuizen when with 2 mins to spare an enthusiastic van der Westhuizen pulled into the paddock and ready for the 1st heat.
As the lights went out it was Swart Jnr who lead the field with van der Westhuizen and du Toit following suit. Van der Westhuizen wasted no time and attacked Swart Jnr on the opening lap to take over the lead. Van der Westhuzien capitalized on his advantage and edged away from Swart Jnr & du Toit with each passing lap.
On lap 5 Swart Jnr ran into transmission issues and retired from the heat which saw 2nd position inherited by du Toit. Van der Westhuizen showed no sign of backing down and extended his advantage on du Toit. On the penultimate lap the race was then red flagged due to an incident in turn 5 and would also result in the heat being concluded with van der Westhuizen claiming victory from du Toit who were the only 2 to cross the line. This was just the confidence boost that van der Westhuizen required after his early morning woes.
With the weather starting to decline, the officials then reshuffled the order of the programme and the start of the 2nd heat would now commence at 15:55pm. As the field pulled up into the pre race paddock a slight sprinkle could be felt and this left the drivers with some critical decisions to make. Thankfully the rain stayed away and another dry albeit cooler race was on the cards.
Van der Westhuizen was the man to come away with pole for the 2nd heat with Swart Jnr sharing the front row and du Toit completing the small class field. The lights went out and van der Westhuizen got the holeshot followed by Swart Jnr & du Toit. Van der Westhuizen picked up where he left off in the 1st heat as he opened up an early margin to Swart Jnr. Neither Swart Jnr nor du Toit was able to challenge van der Westhuizen for the lead and the latter delivered another master class drive to claim the 2nd victory of the day from Swart Jnr & du Toit.
In Class B it was again a pure dog fight as it became a 3 way scrap for class honours. Ex-champion Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf II GTi) was the first to show his hand as he came away with pole followed by current class champion Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD Performance Golf I GTi) and Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II) completing the top 3. Another strong performance from Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi) handed him P4 with 2016 rookie of the year Earl Josephs (Silvermoon Roofing Golf I GTi) ending off the top 5 in class.
As the lights went out it was Thompson who got off to a strong start and lead from Geldenhuys and Roux with the 3 protagonists at each other’s throats for the top spot. Geldenhuys latched onto the rear bumper of Thompson for the opening laps with Roux remaining close by and ready to attack. On lap 4 Thompson had a slow exit coming out of turn 5 and Geldenhuys took advantage and snatched the lead from Thompson. Thompson’s vehicle appeared to have lost power as the class champion fell back into the clutches of Roux.
Roux capitalized on Thompson’s misfortune and passed the champion on the penultimate lap of the heat. The race was then red flagged with Geldenhuys in P1, followed by Roux and Thompson crossing the line in P3. Another twist of fate struck Thompson as the CoC imposed a 30s time penalty on the champion for failing to slow down under red flag conditions. This then handed the final podium spot to Field with Thompson relegated to 4th and finishing just 0.1s ahead of 5th place Norman Josephs (Silvermoon Roofing Polo Classic).
Son to Norman, Earl rounded out the class and ran into transmission issues which saw Josephs fall back and unable to compete with the rest of the pack.
Although Field was fortunate enough to come away with a podium spot, it was a race plagued with misfortune for Field who had a dreadful end to his race. On the 3rd lap Field spun out after making contact with Class C competitor Dillion Joubert (Tac Steel/Powder Coating World Golf I GTi). Field then gathered himself and pushed hard to make up for the incident. Field then managed to make up a few places but pushed too hard and then lost control of his vehicle on the exit of turn 5 which would see the vehicle tip over and land on the right side as it came to a halt.
Due to the incident, the race was then red flagged and stopped. Field then unstrapped himself from his overturned vehicle and climbed out unharmed and mildly shaken after his slight scare. Luckily for the Field his vehicle had minor damage and was able to return to the grid for the 2nd heat.
Heat 2 would see a change in the order as Roux was the man who acquired pole from Geldenhuys in P2 and Thompson rounding out the top 3. Field managed to patch up his vehicle to line up in P4 with Earl Josephs rounding out the top 5. Josephs looking to improve on his 1st heat issues after doing some changes during heats.
The lights went out as all but Geldenhuys checked out. The ex-champ lost 1st gear and stalled on the line but was hit by Dario Busi (Automan Polo Playa) as young Busi took evasive action in a bid to avoid making contact. Fortunately Geldenhuys managed to get going and set about reeling in his fellow competitors.
At the front of Class it was current Champion Thompson who lead from Roux with Field, father & son duo Norman & Earl Josephs and a hard charging Geldenhuys. Thompson was determined to make up for his 1st heat woes and opened up a slight gap on Roux. Thompson maintained his strong pace and took the 2nd heat by leading from start to finish. Roux put in another strong drive but began to drop off towards the end of the race and just managed to hold out for stunning P2 with Geldenhuys making a remarkable recovery to finish on the final step of the podium.
Field managed to keep his vehicle on all 4 and come home in a well deserved P4 with younger Josephs in P5 and older Josephs rounding out the class. Roux’s superb driving awarded the ace first overall in class for the day with Geldenhuys in the runner up spot and Thompson managing to claim the final spot on the podium after his excellent recovery in the 2nd heat.
The Class C warriors yet again provided their fair share of action packed thrill and spills and last lap carnage which would have most spectators thinking this was the finale of the season.
Overall Championship leader Marco Busi (Automan Golf I GTi) drew first blood as the ex-WP karting champion took top spot in qualifying narrowly piping current class & overall champion Bryan Morgan (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi) by a whopping 0.044s with younger brother Dario completing the top 3. Making a strong return was Jarred Simpson in the 2nd Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi after Simpson missed the previous round and ex-champion Christopher Swart (Jacks Paint & Hardware Edgemead Golf I GTi) rounding up the top 5 in class.
The lights went out and Marco got the holeshot off the line with current champion Morgan, young Dario, Simpson & Swart all involved in a fight for top spot. A case of déjà vu as Marco made an early break from the rest of the class with rookie younger brother Dario passing Morgan in the opening stages of the heat. According to the timesheets, the man on the move was Simpson who showed blistering pace and was starting to catch the front runners. Simpson then made an error and ran wide coming out of turn 5 on lap 5 to drop down the order.
With Marco running away with the race a tussle then began between young Dario, Morgan & Swart. With Morgan battling to keep his pace, he was soon caught and passed by Swart who then set about catching rookie Dario. Swart got amazing drive coming out of turn 5 and saw the ex-champ and Dario barrel down the main straight neck-on-neck on lap 6 with Dario just edging Swart over the line. The race was then red flagged due to the Field incident which would hand Marco the victory of the 1st heat and with Dario crossing the line ahead of Swart on the previous lap, P2 was then snatched by the rookie and Swart having to settle for the final spot on the podium.
Morgan managed to remain in a well deserved 4th place and Simpson recovered superbly to complete the top 5. It was another Busi 1, 2 in class and would appear as the brothers would run away with another dominant class victory.
The Dominance of the Busi duo continued into the 2nd heat as young Dario put his vehicle on pole from older brother Marco followed by Morgan, Simpson & Swart. A strong 1st heat result followed by pole gave Dario a great confidence boost but a surprise on the start line awaited the rookie.
As the lights went out, class B driver Geldenhuys stalled and this left Busi in a tough situation. The rookie took evasive action and made light contact in a bid to avoid the stationary vehicle of Geldenhuys. This incident would see young Busi get off to a slow start and dropped down the order with Marco capitalizing and getting the holeshot and Morgan & Simpson slotting in behind the leader.
Morgan was determined to pull 1 back and put a stop to the domination of the Busi’s as the champion put the hammer down and caught the leader on lap 4 with Simpson following suit. With Morgan, Simpson & Marco involved in 3 way fight for the lead, the trio broke away from the rest of the pack. Marco was not determined to give up this easy and closed down on the 2 front runners. He then managed to catch and pass Simpson on lap 5 as Morgan maintained his lead.
Simpson refused to admit defeat and on the very next lap took back 2nd position from the championship leader. But Marco then retaliated to reduce the points deficit that Morgan would gain and snatched back P2 from Simpson. The order remained unchanged as Morgan finally took the long awaited revenge on Marco to claim the victory of the 2nd heat and reduce the points deficit of the championship leader. Simpson then took a well deserved podium finish with young Dario coming home in P4 and ex-supercar champion Brad Wadeley (Charl Electrical Engineering Golf I GTi) completing the top 5.
This top 5 finish for Wadeley came with some controversy as Wadeley & Jaco Lambert (BGA Auto/Paint Chemistry Golf I GTi) was involved in a neck-on-neck dice to the line. Things got a little too close for comfort and contact was made between the 2 which sent Lambert spiraling out of control and hitting the wall on the inside coming out of turn 5. Lambert walked away unharmed but his vehicle suffered a more severe fate as the damage was too great for the vehicle to move under its own power.
Swart also had a spin in the same spot as Lambert but the ex-champ was fortunate enough not to make contact with wall and continued with his race after dropping way down the order. The ex-champ then managed to recover slightly and crossed the line in a lowly 9th position. This did not sit well with Swart as it was a devastating blow to his championship fight.
Slightly off the pace was Gideon Serfontein (Goeiehoop Onderdele Golf I GTi) who was unable to fight for the podium. The ace just couldn’t find his rhythm of the previous round and this showed in the 2nd heat as Serfontien was caught out by the cooler conditions as he ran wide coming into turn 5 on lap 5.
An interesting debut race developed for the newest member 16 year old Divan Lazarus (Cheapercars Golf I GTi) as the youngster made his transition from oval racing to main circuit. Although the young star managed to qualify 2nd from the bottom, a request by his father Herman Lazarus who competed in class B last season had the young talent relegated to the back of the grid so as not be involved in any potential start line drama.
In the 1st heat the youngster reveled himself in the new car and developed a close dice with Joubert & Serfontien. He put on an excellent display of driving and gave the more experienced veterans a real fight for position. In the 2nd heat Lazarus was even more aggressive as the young talent latched onto the rear bumper of Joubert and had Joubert playing all his cards to keep the rookie at bay.
Completing the class field was rookie Ian Kapp (Hydracor Hydraulics Golf I GTi) who drove a good clean race.
With the halfway mark surpassed the title fight heated up immensely and will only get closer towards the end. It is still a close affair between the top contenders and will only get tougher with each round. The competitors now head back to the drawing board with some having battered vehicles and some minor bruised egos as they prepare for round 6.
Spectators can catch the next heart stopping installment of the Bold Marine Gti Challenge at the Killarney International Raceway on Saturday 1st July. Be sure to diarize the date as the competition will be sure to turn on its head come race day.
Written By: Byron Wanza