Simpson Hunting For victory
It was yet another action packed and pedal to the metal round of the wildly popular Bold Marine Gti Challenge in conjunction with the Wingfield Motors Powers Series at Killarney International Raceway.
The grid had an interesting line up and matters were done differently this round as there was no official qualifying session and grid positions was determined by order of fastest lap from the previous round.
In Class A it was the ex Engen VW Cup campaigner Jurie Swart Jnr (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic) who claimed pole with series sponsor Arthur C Roberts “The Russian” (Roberts Racing Jetta II) who lined up along side Swart Jnr on the grid. In P3 was current Engen Cup campaigner Jano van der Westhuizen (Wingfield Motors/Kwikfix Polo Vivo) with returning driver Chris Roberts in the second Roberts Racing Jetta II rounding out the class entrants.
However even before the action got underway, Roberts Snr encountered gearbox issues on the warm up lap as once again the series sponsor was plagued with a dreadful twist of fate. This issue would also see The Russian retire for the day as the flywheel had completely disintegrated. Another horrid day for the latter as The Russian is yet to get the monkey off his back.
The small field of 4 starters lined up on the grid ready to wage war in a bid for class honours. The lights went out and it was the lighting quick van der Westhuizen who got the dream start as the ace got the holeshot for turn 1 with Swart Jnr slotting in behind to hang onto the leader.
Van der Westerhuizen wasted no time and immediately set about opening up a margin on the chasing pack and making his intentions abundantly clear. The chase for Swart Jnr was short lived as the young gun retired on the 2nd lap as an engine mount gave up the ghost and prevented the youngster from further participation.
Roberts Jnr had a slightly slower start and was swallowed up by the lower classed vehicles which allowed van der Westhuizen to open up a sizeable lead. Roberts Jnr drove the wheels off his vehicle but it was to no avail as van der Westhuizen had disappeared down the road and crossed the finish line in a superb P1 with Roberts Jnr coming home in P2 as the 2 protagonists were the only 2 runners left in class.
It was just not a good day for the team of Roberts Racing as the 2nd vehicle returned to parc ferme with an engine sounding terminally ill. After further inspection Roberts Jnr decided to retire for the day and not run the risk of further damaging the engine. With half the class retired, the team of Swart Jnr set about replacing the broken mount in no time to see the young gun back in the hunt and ready for action in the 2nd heat.
Swart Jnr was dealt another blow as the latter was relegated to the back of the grid after not posting a lap time in the 1st heat. With van der Westhuizen lining up in pole Swart Jnr had the mammoth task of working his way through field and preventing van der Westhuizen from claiming a double victory.
The lights went out and Swart Jnr set off like a bullet in the night as the youngster set his sights on catching van der Westhuizen. Swart Jnr was the man on the move as he charged through the field with ferocious pace to find himself in P2 by the end of the 2nd lap. However van der Westhuizen had already opened up a sufficient margin to the field and showed no signs of slowing down. This was enough to give van der Westhuizen the 2nd victory of the day as Swart Jnr limped home in P2 after his vehicle developed a misfire coming out of the final corner on the last lap.
This confidence boost was just what van der Westhuizen needed as the latter heads to Zwartkops Raceway to compete in the Engen VW Cup.
Matters in Class B was none other than breathtaking as the fight for class honours became a 3 way affair between current class champion Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD Preformance Golf I GTi), ex overall champion Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf II GTi) and returning class A refugee Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II).
It was Thompson who came away with pole position with Geldenhuys in P2 and 2016 rookie Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi) in P3. Newcomer Grant Cloete (Upstream Connect Golf I GTi) sat solid in P4 while Mario Roux was relegated to back of class after not having a lap time from the previous round. With only a 2 point difference between Geldenhuys & Thompson, it was all to play for as both drivers were looking to claim class honours.
As the lights went out it was both Thompson & Geldenhuys who got off to a lightening start as Field was caught sleeping on the line allowing Roux & Cloete to blitz pass the 2016 rookie and make up some places. It was Thompson who capitalized on his advantage and lead from Geldenhuys with Roux just a tad further down the road. Thompson was eager to make a break and claim back some vital championship points as he was determined to keep Geldenhuys at bay.
However the ex-champ was all over Thompson like a bad rash as Thompson drove defensively to keep his lead. With Roux unable to catch the leaders the ace settled into a smooth pace and held station in P3 with Field coming back to claim P4 from Cloete at the end of the 3rd lap after his earlier start line delay.
The battle at the front remained close right up to the finish line as Thompson just had enough to pull one back over Geldenhuys with Roux claiming the final spot on the podium. A delighted Field was happy to claim P4 with Cloete rounding out the class in P5.
The 2nd heat picked up where the 1st heat left off as Thompson had another flying start after acquiring the 2nd pole for the day. The 1st heat victory gave Thompson an excellent confidence boost as the latter set about claiming a double victory as the current class champ opened up an early lead on Geldenhuys & Roux who benefited from a much better starting position on the grid. Field managed to improve on his earlier start line issues to sit steady in P4 while Cloete rounded out the class in P5.
Thompson was on course to dominate the 2nd heat when “lady” luck struck as the champ’s car developed a misfire going down the main straight resulting in a retirement for the current champ and Roux inheriting the lead. With Thompson out, this opened the door for Geldenhuys to extend his advantage over the current champ however Roux was a thorn in the side of Geldenhuys.
With Roux showing some impressive pace, he managed to hang on to the lead while Geldenhuys pushed and showed his hand a few times during the heat. Roux delivered a pure championship winning drive as the warrior held on magnificently to claim victory with Geldenhuys having to settle once again for the runner up spot. Field completed the podium coming back spectacularly after an earlier spin coming out of turn 3 while Cloete claimed the final spot.
With the demise of Thompson in the 2nd heat and a double runner up spot for Geldenhuys rewarded the ex champ with a 1st overall for the day with Roux having a photo book return to claim P2 overall and Field with another podium finish.
In Class C it was yet again the infamous Marco Busi (Automan Golf I GTi) who reigned supreme to claim a double victory and extended his already sizeable lead in the championship standings. However it was all but relaxed in class C as Busi was involved in a fierce tussle with Jarred Simpson (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi). Simpson was on fire as he gave Busi a run for his money and narrowly missed out on victory in both heats.
Missing from the timesheets was current champion Bryan Morgan (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi) who did not enter for this event. A little off the pace was last round star child Dario Busi (Automan Polo Playa) who managed to claim pole for the 1st heat. Young Dario suffered from a lack of power as the ex karter began to lose touch with his older sibling and Simpson after the 2nd lap.
Slightly further back was the trio of Dillion Joubert (TAC Steel/Powder Coating World Golf I GTi), ex supercar champion Brad Wadeley (Charl Electrical Engineering Golf I GTi) and ex overall champion Christopher Swart (Jacks Paint & Hardware Edgemead) who was involved in a close scrap for 4th position with Joubert coming out tops followed by Wadeley and Swart. Gert Du Plessis (Cheapercars.co.za Golf I GTi) and Gideon Serfontein (Goeiehoop Onderdele Golf I GTi) were also involved in a close battle with Du Plessis claiming the final point’s position.
The battle at the front was red hot as it only takes 2 drivers to make a race and the 2 in question were Busi & Simpson. Busi got off to another dream start and opened up a slight margin while Simpson tucked in behind young Dario. Simpson had no intention of settling for P3 and quickly passed young Dario coming out of turn 5 on lap 2. Simpson showed some vicious pace as he set about catching the leader.
On lap 5 in an identical manner Simpson caught and passed the championship leader and was intent on claiming victory however Marco remained in close proximity and latched onto the back bumper of Simpson. Simpson pushed his vehicle to the limit and ran wide coming out of the final corner on the last lap which allowed Marco to pass and come home to take victory.
This battle took its toll on Simpson’s vehicle as the latter came into parc ferme with a knocking sound originating from the gearbox. Simpson then rushed to conduct a gearbox change in record time to have the vehicle ready for the second heat. Simpson’s superb drive was enough to award the ace pole position for the 2nd heat with Marco claiming P2 and young Dario in P3. Swart managed to claim P4 with Joubert rounding out the top 5.
As the lights went out Simpson lost out on the start line as Marco got the holeshot for the 1st corner with Swart getting an amazing launch to gain 2 places and slot into P2 with Simpson dropping to P3 and young Dario in P4 as the lead pack broke away from the rest of the field. It was deja vu from the 1st heat as Marco again opened up an early margin and looked to be running away at the front.
With Simpson seeking victory the latter wasted no time in passing Swart for P2 for fear of Marco disappearing down the road. Simpson delivered yet another master class drive and edged closer and closer to the leader. On the final lap Simpson briefly took the lead heading down the back main when Marco pulled a superb late braking maneuver coming into turn 5. Busi then executed a magnificent front wheel drive drift as the championship leader came in a tad too hot and slid across the nose of Simpson who nudged Busi on the exit of the corner as the 2 then barreled down the main straight in a mad dash for the finish line.
It was Marco who emerged victorious by a bumper as the ex WP karter just managed to pip Simpson to the line. A little further back Swart and Dario were involved in a little fight of their own as Dario was seeking another podium finish. Swart held station in P3 when on lap 6 Dario executed a delightful late braking move and dived for the inside line to snatch P3 from Swart. The ex-champ then set firm behind the young gun and pursed the youngster when Swart got amazing drive coming out of the final corner to win the drag race by an astonishing 0.031s.
Completing the top 5 was Serfontien who showed some improved pace while Wadeley recovered superbly to come home in 6th after coming together with Joubert on the exit of turn 3 which saw Joubert retire early as the damage was to severe to continue.
Rounding out the field was Du Plessis, Jaco Lambert (BGA Auto/Paint Chemistry Golf I GTi), Ian Kapp (Hydracor Hydraulics Golf I GTi), lady racer Nadia Nair (Golf I GTi) and making his Gti Challenge debut was Jade Lynch (Tablebay Roadworthy Centre Golf I GTi) who joins the series from oval racing.
The Gti Challenge series heads to P.E for its annual away race where Aldo Scribante Raceway will play host to the 8th round of the Cape’s most wildly popular series. Spectators fortunate enough to travel to P.E can be sure to catch the drivers do battle on Saturday 16 September as the championship now heads into the closing stages.
- Written by: Byron Wanza