Cape’s Gti’s Excite in Wet & Wild Aldo Scribante Mayhem
The 8th round of the Cape’s wildy popular & exhilarating Bold Marine Gti Challenge racing series made the +-730km journey to the infamous tyre shredding Aldo Scribante Raceway for the 1st away race of the 2017 season. With a sufficiently sized field of 16 cars on the grid, the masses in Port Elizabeth was in for a spectacular display of sheer brilliant driving skill.
A slight concern popped up amongst the drivers when the weather forecast showed signs of rain scheduled for race day on 16th September. With the weather in Cape Town being delightfully kind to the drivers thus far this season, a few of the new competitors were marginally phased as they have not experienced wet weather conditions especially on a surface and layout unfamiliar to them.
The vehicles arrived promptly at the circuit at 17:00pm on Thursday afternoon and the drivers offloaded and placed the vehicles into the designated pit bays. With security personal on hand, the drivers were rest assured that the vehicles would be secured and then all departed to check-in at their various accommodation venues.
After a good night’s rest, the drivers all made their way to the circuit bright and early to begin with vehicle preparation and official practice on Friday morning. As per the weather forecast, the drivers were greeted by an overcast Aldo Scribante Raceway and ready to familiarize themselves with a new battleground.
With some of the drivers eager to get a taste of the new venue and pushing to get the benchmark lap times, it was natural for a few of the competitors to slip up and run out of trackwidth. Fortunately no vehicles were damaged and all drivers able to keep their cars on all 4 wheels with no contact around the circuit. Towards the end of the Friday practice a light drizzle grazed the pit complex and this had the drivers now prepping for wet weather conditions. With the rain thankfully staying away, the drivers again departed the circuit to get some rest and prepare for the following days racing ahead.
In true Port Elizabeth fashion, all competitors awoke to a mildly wet Saturday morning and tensions running high with drivers scrambling frantically to change the setup of the vehicles for a wet qualifying session. What resembled a busy day on Wall Street was none other than the drivers and pit crew conducting setup changes and checks to ensure their vehicles were ready for qualifying.
Mother Nature really showed her hand when all the competitors lined up in pitlane for the start of qualifying. The heavens opened up and the rain began to barrel down on the circuit which really caused a stir in pits. The safety car was deployed to conduct an inspection and the session was then delayed by 30mins due to standing water in turn 6. All the drivers then reverted back to their respective pit bays and waited for the water to clear.
After a final inspection the marshals gave the all clear as the entire field exited pitlane like a freight train at maximum speed. With all the energy and excitement finally unleashed the competitors went all out to get those low times with all competitors gunning for their respective class poles.
In Class A it was the return of Nian “Race Muis” du Toit Jnr (Cheapercars/MRD Jetta III) who clinched pole position from the hard charging ex overall champion Brett Roach (Old Mutual Jetta III). Race Muis stamped his authority on Class A as the ace was pedal to the metal throughout practice. With Race Muis unable to campaign this season due to work commitments, he made his intentions abundantly clear that the competition was not going to be a walk in the park. Rounding out the class in P3 was son of series sponsor Chris Roberts (Roberts Racing Jetta II). Roberts piloted the car of father Arthur C Roberts “The Russian” as the team was unable to get Chris’ car ready for the race.
In true Gti Challenge tradition, there is hardly a session in which a spanner is thrown in the works. Towards the end of the qualifying session the Jetta III of Race Muis came into parc ferme with what sounded like a slipping clutch. A real blow to the effort of the team after the outstanding achievement. Once released from parc ferme, the pit crew got down to business and discovered that a gearbox failure was the issue. Luckily a spare unit was on hand and would see Race Muis back in the fight.
After the qualifying all competitors were summed to the drivers briefing in which the CoC addressed all matters and delivered the order of proceedings to follow.
With all competitors back to the pit bays it was business as usual as the various changes and checks were conducted to get the vehicles ready for the 1st heat. However another hiccup arose as one of the local formulas had an incident in which oil was spilled over the entire the length of the circuit. This then caused a major delay in proceedings as the various officials worked franticly to clear the chaos. An emergency drivers briefing was called as the extent of the spillage was quite immense and would require more time to resolve.
Due to the nature of the spillage the CoC along with officials made the decision to further delay the proceedings as the cleaning process would require more time. For the motorbike category, the decision was made to cancel their heats as officials deemed the circuit unsafe for motorbikes to participate.
With a change in the order of proceedings, a new race schedule was issued and racing would commence at 14:00pm sharp. This gave the competitors a chance to relax and prepare for the 1st heat without any time constraints. A final drivers briefing was called just before the start of the racing to inform the drivers of the new race start procedure.
All competitors were to complete 2 sighting laps before the start of the heat behind the safety car and then come to a complete stop on the start line in their respective grid positions. The lights will go out to signal the start of the race in which the drivers will slot into single file formation behind the safety car remaining in their grid positions for the first lap. At the end of the first lap the safety car would come into the pits and all cars to remain in single file formation until the lead car crosses the start line to begin the 2nd lap of the heat. With turn 1 still having the presence of the earlier oil spill it was a yellow flag zone and no overtaking allowed until the exit of turn 3 in which the marshals will signal the green flag to indicate to competitors that they may now overtake.
This was a real twist in the proceedings with competitors having to adopt a rolling start. Thankfully the drivers brought their A-game and executed the start procedure superbly with no incidents.
Once the safety car had pulled into pitlane it was Race Muis who put the hammer down with Roach in hot pursuit barreling down the main straight. Race Muis and Roach both had a moment at the 1st corner as the due hit a patch of oil in the braking zone resulting in both drivers fighting with their steering wheels to keep their vehicles under control. This lead to Roach making minor contact with the right rear corner of Race Muis’ car and sent Race Muis off the circuit. Fortunately the veteran used his experience excellently and didn’t lose too much time with his off track excursion.
On the very next lap it was roles reversed as Roach again hit the oil patch under braking and was not as lucky as Race Muis. The ex champ was not as luckily as Race Muis as his vehicle hit the dirt and went well wide of the circuit. As the ex champ fought furiously to regain control of his vehicle, he narrowly missed making contact with the outside tires before finding his way back on circuit and back in the chase to catch Race Muis who had regained the lead.
Due to Roach’s major off, Race Muis was able to open up a sizeable margin and settled into a comfortable pace as he controlled the race at the front. However Roach was not ready to admit defeat and on lap 5 drove like a man possessed as the ex champ was a full second faster than the leader and closing the gap to Race Muis. With each passing lap Roach edged closer and closer to the leader and just fall short of race distance as Race Muis took the chequered flag in fine style with the ex champ in a well deserved P2 and Roberts completing the class after having to work his way through traffic at the start of the heat.
Both cars had minor scars from the turn 1 incident and nothing a quick fix couldn’t solve. With both drivers aware of the circumstance, neither Roach or Race Muis would be taking the 2nd heat lightly. Another sigh of relief came when the weather improved significantly and the track began to dry up slightly. With wet patches in certain parts, both drivers were sure to bring all their tricks to the table.
With the track in a much safer condition, the CoC then indicated that Gti Challenge would return to a standing start which was excellent news for all vehicles on the grid. With Roach looking for redemption after the 1st heat mishap which cost the champ his chance at victory, it was all games aside.
Due to his splendid drive in the 1st heat, Roach was the man who came away with pole with Race Muis lining up alongside the ex champ on the front row and Roberts again rounding out the class in P3.
The lights went out and it was the ex champ who got the holeshot with Race Muis slotting in behind Roach and glued to the rear bumper of the ex champ. The 2 front runners immediately opened up a gap to the rest of the field as they were locked into a fierce battle for the lead. Race Muis was determined to clinch a double victory and hung onto the leader like a magnet. On lap 5 the pressure of a hard charging Race Muis got to the ex champ as Roach suffered a miss shift coming down the main straight and was forced to take defensive lines to keep Race Muis at bay.
With each passing corner Race Muis continued to pile on the pressure and at the end of the 7th lap got amazing drive coming out of the final corner and challenged Roach for the lead. The 2 barreling down the main straight side by side with no room for error as Race Muis hugged the inside line to snatch the lead from Roach going into turn 1.
With Roach driving fiercely in the opening stages of the heat, the infamous Aldo Scribante curse hit the ex champ as major tyre wear hampered any chance Roach had of regaining the lead. Race Muis managed to open up a comfortable margin and took the second victory in another brilliant display of racing excellence.
Rounding out the class was Roberts who again had to work through traffic at the start of the heat.
In Class B it was reigning class champion Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD Performance Golf I GTi) who delivered another class winning performance to clinch a double pole and double victory over ex overall champion Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf II GTi). The ex champ was unable to find his groove at the infamous tyre shredding circuit and was forced to settle P2 in both heats as Thompson lead from flag to flag. This performance by the reigning class champion came with great reward as Thompson managed to move up and take over the lead the Class B title fight. However the advantage is a minor 3 points and the title fight is still wide open between the reigning class and ex overall champion.
An eventful weekend for Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II) as the ace was unable to fight for class honours. Roux had a moment during the Friday practice which sent the protagonist farming and just narrowly escaping contact with tyres coming out of turn 3. In the 2nd heat Roux was dealt another blow as the ace struggled to get his vehicle going and was later discovered that a faulty alternator robbed any chance roux had of challenging for lead.
Rounding out the class was 2017 class B sensation Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi) who managed a delightful drive to come home unscathed in both heats. Like Roux, Field also had an epic moment during the Friday practice and suffered a spin on the exit of turn 2. Fortunately Field kept his vehicle the right way up and come out successfully.
Class C honours went to ex WP Karter and current overall log leader Marco Busi (Automan Golf I GTi) who put on a master class performance to clinch the class title with 2 rounds to spare. Still the only competitor in the triple digit scoring bracket, young Marco has firmly got one hand on the overall title. With a 31 point lead of closest rival Eden Thompson, Marco has a comfortable lead and nothing short of pure bad luck could ruin the youngster’s chance of clinching the overall championship.
Although Marco came out tops, current class and overall champion Bryan Morgan (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi) showed amazing pace from the first session and was dubbed a favourite for the win. With Morgan finally back on pace after having a disappointing run of bad luck, the current champ was eager to return to winning ways. Morgan’s pace showed as the current champ came away with pole for both heats.
Morgan made the most of his excellent starting position and held the lead for the opening laps of the 1st heat. With Marco in hot pursuit the ex WP karter put the hammer down and set about catching the leader. With each corner Marco edged closer and closer and challenged for the lead on lap 4. Marco executed a superbly timed late brake maneuver on the inside of turn 5 to snatch the lead from the Morgan. Marco managed a steady pace and remained in a comfortable lead to cross the line just ahead of Morgan.
While the leaders were having there tussle at the front, another scrap for 3rd and 4th in class was unfolding just further back between rookie 15 year old Dario Busi (Automan Polo Playa) and Jarred Simpson in the 2nd Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi. With both drivers making their debut drive at the circuit they put on a superb display of racing. Young Dario also showed some amazing pace and was not intent on remaining behind Simpson. On lap 3 the young gun made his move and passed Simpson to clinch the final podium position. With older sibling Marco and Morgan just up the road, Young Dario delivered a faultless performance to hold station in P3 with Simpson having to settle for P4. Completing the top 5 was ex overall champion Christopher Swart (Jacks Paint & Hardware Golf I GTi).
With a drying track for the 2nd heat, the pace improved substantially and the hunger for victory was more vicious amongst the warriors. Morgan was once again the man on pole with Marco in P2 and young sibling Dario in P3 with Simpson sitting in P4 and Dillion Joubert (TAC Steel/Powder Coating World Golf I GTi) completing the top 5.
The lights went out to start the final heat as Marco wasted no time in challenging for lead and soon passed Morgan in the opening laps. With younger sibling Dario also looking to capitalize and hunting for victory, the young gun pushed and found himself involved in head to head drag race with the current champion at the end of the 2nd lap. Young Dario took the inside line and beautifully claimed 2nd place from the current champion. With the Busi brothers holding station in 1st & 2nd, Morgan settled into a controlled pace in P3 with Simpson just slightly behind his team mate in P4.
However lower down the order an interesting little fight developed for 5th place between Swart, Joubert & Gideon Serfontein (Goeiehoop Onderdele Golf I GTi). With Swart getting the holeshot, Joubert and Serfontein were involved in a close side by side drag race on 4th lap. Serfontein showed some impressive pace when the latter suffered a major blow and retired on lap 5 with a broken clutch. This allowed Joubert to catch up to Swart but Swart would none of it and drove defensively to keep Joubert at bay.
Swart managed to hold his own and successfully kept Joubert at bay to claim another top 5 finish. Joubert then had an incident on track and dropped down the order to finish behind Gert Du Plessis (Cheapercars Golf I GTi) & Alfie Van Zyl (Union Sign Golf I GTi).
All in all it was yet another round of superb racing from the Cape’s most wildly popular formula. The penultimate round of the 2017 season is scheduled to take place back on home soil at Killarney International Raceway for the 8th Round of the Wingfield Motors Power Series on 07 October 2017.
Written By: Byron Wanza