King Busi Crowned 2017 Overall Champion
The spectators which flocked to the Killarney International Raceway on Saturday 07 October for Round 9 of the wildly popular Bold Marine Gti Challenge series were treated to some amazing and action packed driving finesse as the competitors put on a display of racing which simulated something from a national final round.
The penultimate round of the 2017 season which was run in conjunction with the Wingfield Motors Power series was undoubtedly the most intense round as the racing was closely match with drivers fighting tooth and nail in a bid for that all elusive supremacy and bragging rights.
Although the overall championship has been decided, this did not stop the various competitors in classes A, B & C from putting on a show stopping performance for the masses.
In Class A it was the lightning quick ex Engen VW Cup campaigner Jurie “Umpie” Swart Jnr (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic) who clinched a double victory over the current Engen VW Cup campaigner Jano van der Westhuizen (Kwikfix/Wingfield Motors Polo Vivo) as the 2 protagnists were involved in a spat of their own at the front of the field.
It was hard fought victory for Swart Jnr as van der Westhuizen did not allow the youngster to breathe for a single second of both heats. With qualifying taking place on Friday evening at sunset, it was van der Westhuizen who came away with the pole position for the first heat and made his intentions abundantly clear to the rest of the tiny Class A field. As the lights went out on Saturday it was van der Westhuizen who got the holeshot going into turn 1 with Swart Jnr slotting behind the leader and series sponsor Arthur C Roberts “The Russian” (Roberts Racing Jetta II).
It was bumper-to-bumper action at the front as Swart Jnr remained glued to the back of van der Westhuzien for the opening laps as Roberts gradually slipped back during the opening laps in a lonely P3. However Swart Jnr was never intending to settle for 2nd and on lap 5 coming into the final corner, Swart Jnr held the inside line and with a beautifully executed late brake maneuver, snatched the lead from van der Westhuizen. Van der Westhuizen would not be beaten that easy and lunged a few more times at Swart Jnr, however the ace defended his lead and managed to keep van der Westhuizen at bay to cross the line in P1, only 0.1s ahead of the charging van der Westhuizen with The Russian in a lonely P3.
Swart Jnr’s stunning performance awarded the youngster pole position for heat 2 with van der Westhuizen sharing the front row and The Russian completing the class field. The 2nd heat got off to an even hotter start as Swart Jnr made a lightning start to get the holeshot from van der Westhuizen with The Russian in P3. Swart Jnr pushing his vehicle to the limits as the young gun got completely sideways going into turn 1 with van der Westhuizen following suit in what looked like a tandem drift exhibition from the front runners.
It was roles reversed from the 1st heat as Swart Jnr lead from the line with van der Westhuizen clinging to the rear bumper of Swart Jnr. On lap 4 van der Westhuizen got amazing drive coming out turn 4 and briefly took the lead down the back main, but Swart Jnr defended his line and held station on the inside to keep van Westhuizen at bay. Van der Westhuizen threw everything but kitchen sink at Swart Jnr but the young talent held his own and successfully defended his lead to take the victory in a flag-toflag style victory from van der Westhuizen. The 2 young guns being the only finishers in Class A after The Russian’s vehicle developed a misfire on the opening lap forcing an early retirement.
The fight in Class B was once again a 3 way affair between current class champion Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD Performance Golf I GTi), ex overall champion Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf II GTi) and Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II). First blood went to Geldunhuys who reveled in the setting sun and came away with pole from Thompson, followed by Roux in P3. Claiming 4th position in class was Class C graduate Divan Lazarus (Cheapercars Golf I GTi) with returning 2016 rookie of the year Earl Josephs (Silvermoon Roofing Golf I GTi) rounding out the top 5.
As the Class B pack lined up on the grid, the tensions rose as each driver was on the hunt for maximum points with the first full field for some time. As the lights went out it was Geldenhys who got the holeshot from Roux & Thompson with young Lazarus getting off to a slow start on the line and dropping a few positions. Geldenhuys’ lead was short lived as the ex champ made light contact with current overall champion Bryan Morgan (Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi) in turn 2. Thompson & Roux both benefitted from the incident & passed the ex champ with Thompson opening a slight cushion over the 2.
It was a fierce 3 way tussle at the front as the 3 competitors were at each other’s heels looking to capitalize and seek any advantage over the other. Thompson was gifted the lead and settled at the front of the pack maintaining the lead throughout the heat with Geldenhuys latched onto the rear bumper of Roux and looking to get back into lead. However Roux would not allow himself to be intimated and defended his 2nd position with passing corner. Just as predicted, Roux was just the spanner in the works which tossed the title fight on its head as Thompson held station to cross the line in P1 with Roux doing just enough to hold off the ex champ for P2 and Geldenhuys taking the final podium spot.
Running just a tad further back another interesting battle developed between Lazarus & Josephs for 4th position as young Lazarus was forced to continue the heat with an open tailgate after the locking mechanism failed. Young Lazarus was eager to hold onto P4 however Josephs was showing an amazing display of form and strong pace. Young Lazarus did all he could to defend his position but Josephs just had the edge on the youngster and made the pass on lap 4. Josephs had no intention of hanging around and made increased the distance to circulate in P4. The 2016 rookie of the year winner looked poised for an excellent finish when disaster struck for the returning 2016 star performer.
The optimistic and overly eager Class C rookie Dario Busi (Automan Polo Playa) was hot on the tail of Josephs and was looking to overtake the 2016 rookie going into turn 4 when the 15 year old ex WP Karter made contact with Josephs and sent both cars veering violently off the circuit. Josephs made heavy contact with the wall which ultimately destroyed his vehicle and would see his chances of a strong finish up and vanish in a cloud of dust and broken glass. With Josephs out of the race, young Lazarus inherited P4 with newcomer Grant Cloete (Upstream Connect Golf I GTi) completing the top 5. Rounding out the class was Mr consistency and 2017 class B sensation Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi).
The incident between Josephs and 15 year old Dario was then reviewed by the CoC and was deemed a racing incident. This was a tremendous blow to the 2016 rookie of the year as Josephs showed strong pace throughout the heat and was enjoying an excellent return to the series.
With the dust settled, the rest of the class B field returned with one less vehicle on the grid as it was yet again Geldenhuys who claimed pole position from Thompson with Roux taking P3. Lining up in P4 was young Lazarus with Field & Cloete rounding out the pack.
The lights went out for the second time as Geldenhuys again got the holeshot with Thompson & Roux slotting in behind the ex champ. Thompson wasted no time and launched an attack on the ex champ taking the lead on the opening lap. The current champion was a man on a mission as Thompson looked to take full advantage of his excellent form and again held station at the front. It was roles reversed from the first heat with Roux and Geldenhuys swopping positions. With the chance of Thompson escaping at the front, Geldenhuys put the hammer down and maintained his pace to stay with Thompson followed by a hard charging Roux in P3 with young Lazarus is a lonely P4 just marginally off the pace at the front.
Roux again showed strong pace and lunged at Geldenhuys on lap 6 coming into turn 5 in bid for 2nd position. The ex champ would have none of it and held his line to fend of Roux and hold onto his P2 and ensure damage limitation. Thompson had just enough to come home in a well deserved P1 and making it 2 on the trot with Geldenhuys managing a 2nd in class with Roux taking the final spot on the podium and finish just off the pace was young Lazarus in a delightful P4.
Although off the pace of the front runners, Cloete & Field were involved in clash of their own as 2 warriors were glued to each other throughout the heat. The 2 remained close with Field looking for any opportunity to pass the new lad. Field kept his calm and coming out of the final corner was involved in a nail biting drag race to the flag as the 2017 sensation just ran out of distance to finish an astonishing 0.006s behind the newcomer.
The fight in Class C was another superb battle as the ex WP Karter and overall log leader Marco Busi (Automan Golf I GTi) clinched the overall title in fine style with a double victory. Marco’s outstanding performance and consistency throughout the season has rewarded the young gun accordingly as the ex Karter clinched the championship with a round to spare. An ecstatic Marco drove a splendid race and opened up a sufficient margin at the front to take the 1st heat in a flag-to-flag style victory as the newly crowned 2017 champion lead the heat from start to finish.
Just further back of the leader, team mates Bryan Morgan & Jarred Simpson in similar Greatsoft Payroll Golf I GTi’s were involved in a tight tussle for 2nd & 3rd as neither competitor wanted to lose out. Closely matched for the entire heat, Simpson was glued to the rear of his team mate and was ready to pounce at the sign of any mistake from the ex champ. But Morgan kept his composure and held his own to cross the line a mere 0.2s ahead of Simpson with a surprising performance from ex supercar champion Brad Wadeley (Charl Electrical Engineering Golf I GTi) in a superb P4.
The battle for 5th in class resembled a fight for the lead in a national VW cup final with a 7 car shootout for a top 5 finish. Involved in the spat was 2017 rookie sensation Dario Busi, Gert Du Plessis (Cheapercars Golf I GTi), Dillion Joubert (TAC Steel/Powder Coating World Golf I GTi), ex overall champion Christopher Swart (Jacks Paint & Hardware Edgemead Golf I GTi), Ian Kapp (Hydracor Hydraulics Golf I GTi) & newcomer Shane Williams (Driving Force Golf I GTi). With so many eager drivers all looking to finish ahead, the action was bound to force an error amongst the warriors and on lap 4 it was Joubert who fell victim. Joubert was hot on the tail of Wadeley when coming into the braking zone for turn 1, Joubert was just a little too eager under braking. In a bid to avoid making contact, Joubert spun out and dropped down the order to see his top 5 finish disappear into the distance.
Towards the end of the heat it was 15 year old Dario who looked to be set for that 5th spot until a last lap incident with Class B competitor Earl Josephs ended his amazing run. With young Dario’s vehicle also picking up severe damage, the 2017 rookie was out for the day. With the demise of young Dario, the 5th position went to ex champ Swart after another strong performance. Finishing in the final points position was newcomer Williams after having a pretty hairy drive and even an off track excursion on the exit of turn 5.
As with Class C, the surprises kept rolling as Simpson was the man on pole for 2nd heat followed by newly crowned champion Marco with ex champ Swart completing the top 3. Morgan lined up 4th on the grid with Wadeley rounding out the top 5.
The lights went out for the final time and it was the new champ Marco who made the break at the front and again opened up a sizeable lead on the rest of the pack with Morgan making an excellent start and gaining 2 places to hold station in P2. Simpson was unable to capitalize on his improved starting position and slipped to 3rd on the opening lap with Swart and Joubert occupying 4th and 5th respectfully.
Marco seemed to be running away with the race again but then dropped down in pace and was soon caught by Simpson who managed to pass his team mate Morgan and claim 2nd. It was yet another 3 way affair for the lead as Marco drove defensively to fend off a hard chasing Simpson and Morgan, with Simpson lunging at the champion going into lap 5 in a bid for the lead. With Simpson hugging the outside line, his team mate Morgan took to the inside and reclaimed 2nd from Simpson in turn 1 on the very same lap.
Morgan continued to pile on the pressure on Marco but the newly crowned champ kept his cool and delivered another spectacular drive to claim his 2nd victory of the day. However Simpson was not ready to concede and put in one last final attack to once again pass his team mate and cross the line in 2nd with Morgan taking the final podium slot. Just further back Swart and Joubert were having a closely contested spat for 4th position as Joubert was determined to make up for his earlier mishap. Joubert was on the hunt and didn’t give the ex champ an inch of breathing room. However the ex champ managed to keep Joubert at bay and take a delightful 4th position with Joubert rounding out the top 5.
Finishing in the final points position was new comer Williams just ahead of Wadeley who was unable to repeat his earlier performance. Completing the Class C field was Kapp and lady racer Nadia Nair (Golf I GTi) who had an adventurous day with 2 spins in both heats. Missing from the 2nd heat was stock car racer Jade Lynch (Tablebay Roadworthy Centre Golf I GTi) who retired with drivetrain issues.
With the penultimate round in the bag, the competitors now head into the final round of the 2017 season which is scheduled to take place at Killarney International Raceway 02 December. With the Class B title still undecided, the spectators will be treated to more action packed and exhilarating racing from the Cape’s most wildly popular series.
A hearty congratulations goes out to Marco Busi on being crowned the 2017 Bold Marine Gti Challenge Overall champion.
Be sure to diarize the above date as the final round is a not to be missed show stopper.
- Written By: Byron Wanza