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Sunday, 05 August 2018 00:00

Gti Challenge “Rains” Supreme

Gti Challenge “Rains” Supreme


Saturday 9 th June was the date set for the 4 th round of the Burly Pro Gti Challenge in conjunction with the Wingfield
Motors Power Series at the Killarney International.
However this round of the championship presented a new challenge for the drivers as the committee would be doing a
trial run for the staggered start procedure. This opportunity would give the some of the lower order drivers a chance to
fight with the pack leaders and get mixed up other class battles.
Another twist came forth when the qualifying session was on Friday evening at sunset. With a blinding sun on certain
sections of the track, partial visibility would be lost making it an interesting session.
In Class A, it was ex VW Cup works driver Kosie Weyers (Mike’s Place Racing Golf I GTi) who drew first blood as the old
warhorse snatched pole position with a blistering lap time of 1.25.111. Although the team had cause for celebration, it
was short lived as Weyers’ car lost power on the second lap of the session. After further investigation a broken crank
pulley was the culprit. Luckily the 1 st heat was only set to commence after lunch on Saturday, giving the team ample time
to resolve the issue. Snatching the final place on the front row was another ex VW cup campaigner and current class champion Jurie “Umpie”
Swart Jnr (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic). Missing out on the front row by only six hundreds of second was Gti Challenge
Veteran Jano van der Westhuizen (Wingfield Motors/Kwikfix Polo Vivo). Sharing the 2 nd row with van der Westhuizen
was current VW Cup campaigner and class rookie Paulus Franken (Manitou Group Polo 6R).
Sharing the 3 rd row was young superstar Colin Nicholas Meder (International Tube Technology Polo 6R) and another ex
VW Cup Campaigner Francios “Trappies” van Tonder (Universal Healthcare Polo 6R). Completing the class was another
veteran campaigner Chris Roberts (Roberts Racing Jetta II).
With qualifying successfully wrapped up, the teams then had a good night’s rest and prepared for the following day’s
racing. The drivers were greeted by an overcast and moist track, but thankfully the weather improved slightly and the
track managed to dry up by the time of the 1 st heat.
Missing from the grid was Roberts who developed flu and was in no condition to pilot his vehicle. With the class now
reduced to just 6 drivers, tensions rose amongst the pack as the drivers assembled on the grid for the start of the 1 st
heat.


The lights went out and it was Weyers who got off to a flying start with Swart Jr, van der Westhuizen & Meder in hot
pursuit. However Weyers was dealt another blow as the pulley issue returned and would see Weyers slowing drop back
on the opening lap his car was down on power. An early retirement for the ex works driver as this twist of fate gifted
Swart Jr the overall lead. But Swart Jr now had a hungry van der Westhuizen hot on his heels with Meder ready to
pounce should the 2 upfront run into issues.


An eager van der Westhuizen was determined to get the jump on Swart Jr and was looking for any opportunity to strike.
Unfortunately van der Westhuizen was just a tad too enthusiastic and made contact with Swart Jr on lap 2. This contact
caused Swart Jr to pick up technical issues and would see the young gun retire from heat. This gave van der Westhuizen
the lead with Meder, Franken and van Tonder all in hot pursuit and gunning for the top step. Van der Westhuizen’s lead
was short lived as the contact made with Swart Jr also had an effect on his vehicle. Midway through lap 3 the steering
hub broke off and left the young ace with no choice but to retire.
This handed Meder with overall lead and the young superstar put the hammer down as the fight for the top step now
became a 2 way affair as Meder had a hard charging Franken latched onto his rear bumper. But Meder is no stranger to
hard racing and having had the taste of victory, there was no way Meder was willing to lay down. A determined Franken

on the other hand, was now in a position to claim his maiden win and therefore was looking for any opportunity to
strike. With van Tonder the only other car still running in class just further back, the 2 at the front were in a dice of their
own. But Meder held his composure superbly and managed to cross the line in P1 with Franken just missing out by 0.4s
to come home in P2 with van Tonder claiming the final podium position.
With an eventful 1 st heat in the bag, the teams now prepared for the 2 nd heat with some working franticly to get their
cars ready to do battle. However once the pack had gathered in the pre race paddock, low and behold mother nature
opened up the flood gates and a substantial downpour ensued on the drought stricken mother city, thus ending a dry
spell of nearly 3 seasons without a wet race on the home circuit of the series.
With enough downpour for the 2 nd heat to be declared a wet a race, the pit crews frantically scrambled to make some
last minute adjustments and get the cars as best set up for wet conditions. The field then proceeded on their warm up
lap and settled into the grid positions for the start of the final heat. The lights went out and it was a fierce battle of
traction as each driver tried to find the balance between accelerating and keeping slip to a minimum.
It was veteran van der Westhuizen who got the jump on the pack with Swart Jr, Franken, Meder and van Tonder making
up one long freight train heading for turn 1. Missing from the grid was Weyers who was unable to get his vehicle ready
and withdrew from the 2 nd heat. However the 1 st heat only lasted 5 corners when the red flag was brought out for an
incident in turn 4 from the lower class C.
The pack then made their way to the back to their original starting positions as the heat was stopped before an official
timed lap was completed. However a frantic Swart Jr picked up issues with his vehicle and headed into the pits to have
his crew inspect the car. Thankfully Swart Jr was given the all clear and could continue, but would now have to start
from pitlane.
Once the marshals had signaled the all clear to race control, the driver were once again brought under starters orders
and prepared for the restart. The lights went out for the final time at it was almost a carbon copy of the 1 st start as the
drivers again battled to get grip of the line while trying to get the holeshot for turn 1. It was yet again van der
Westhuizen who made the stronger start with Franken and Meder side by side and van Tonder just a smidge further
back. A frustrated Swart Jr had the mammoth task of working through the entire field after only being released from
pitlane once the final class C car had crossed the start line.
Van der Westhuizen was in a class of his own as he stamped his authority on the rest of the class and immediately
opened up a cushion. This left Franken to fend off a fierce Meder who both were in the maiden wet race with their
vehicles. An enthusiastic van Tonder pushed to keep up with the front runners, but just came in a tad too hot into turn 5
on the 2 nd lap and found himself in a full 45° sideways drift, luckily his vast experience came into play and the latter was
able to recover. But this allowed Franken and Meder to open up from van Tonder while way down the road a fast
charging Swart Jr was slicing his way through the field and making up ground lost from his pitlane start.
At the front it was van der Westhuizen in full control as the veteran held his compusre superbly and kept his nose clean.
This splendid drive from the master was enough to see him take the chequered flag in style and return to winning ways
after his last round disaster. Taking P2 was class rookie Franken who put his VW Cup and rally experience to good use
edge away from Meder who completed the podium. A strong P4 went to van Tonder who managed to bring home his
vehicle after just the 1 slide as Swart Jnr was unable to catch up to the rest of the class.
In Class B, it was current class champion and overall log leader Eden Thompson (Somerset Refrigeration/MAD
Performance Golf I GTi) who held a slender lead of 2 nd in class and Class C graduate Gideon Serfontein (Goeiehoop
Onderdele Golf II GTi). As much as Serfontein was keen to reduce the deficit to Thompson, a spanner in the works in the
form of Mario Roux (Automar Jetta II) could significantly influence the outcome. However another hotshot superstar to
watch out for was young 17 year old Divan Lazarus (Cheapercars Jetta II) who is eagerly awaiting his maiden class
victory. Further down the order 2017 sensation Mr Consistency Wayne Field (Coetzee’s Auto Coachworks Golf II GTi)
was looking for another run of good fortune along with 2017 rookie Grant Cloete (Upstream Connect Golf I GTi) and
2018 series sponsor Emile Assure (Burly Pro Suspensions/Krisp Vehicle Cooling Polo 6R).

First to show his hand was overall leader Thompson who clinched pole and a surprised and excited Lazarus sharing the
front row of the class. Class Rookie Serfontein headed the 2 nd row just a mere tenth shy of Lazarus with Class A refugee
Roux in a strong P4. At the start of the 3 rd row was Mr Consistency, Field alongside 2017 rookie Cloete with Assure
rounding out the class.
The drivers headed for the startline and settled into their grid slots for the start for the start of the 1 st heat. But a nasty
twist of fate struck Roux as the veteran was attempting to make up time on the warm up lap and was unfortunately
struck by a class C car that was in the process of warming up tires. With Roux not wanting to risk any further damage to
his vehicle, the veteran headed for the pits to access the damage. Once the all clear was received, race control signaled
the drivers and brought the class under start orders. The lights went off with Thompson getting the holeshot as Lazarus
and Serfontein slotted in behind the leader. It was pedal to the metal for overall leader Thompson as the young ace
looked to open up on his already minor advantage in the points standing. While young Lazarus was eager to get his
maiden class victory, he also had to defend his 2 nd position from a lightening quick Serfontein.
It was a ding dong battle at the front of the class as there was no margin for error. By the 3 rd lap Thompson was no
beginning to edge away slightly and this did not sit well with Serfontein. Coming into turn 5 Serfontein took the high line
and on the exit of the corner dived to the inside alongside young Lazarus to see an enthralling side by side mad dash
down the main straight to see Serfontein snatch P2 away from the young gun and hunt down leader Thompson.
Young Lazarus then dropped back slightly but still remained with striking distance of the 2 front runners should they
have ran into issues. Serfontein drove like a man possed and would stop at nothing to get back on the top step, but
Thompson is not a class champion for nothing. The class champ firmly shut the door on Serfontein at each corner forcing
the class rookie to take the long away around. On the penultimate lap Serfontein managed to get his nose ahead of the
class champ and in similar fashion as the move on young Lazarus, had another side by side drag race with the class
champ to briefly take over the lead, but Thompson was not ready to hand a victory to the rookie without a fight and
held station.
Coming out of turn 4 on the final lap, the class champ got amazing drive and dived for the inside line to retake the lead
in fine style and bring home his vehicle in a well deserved P1 with Serfontein just 2 tenths off the class champ. Taking
the final step on the podium was young Lazarus just 2s adrift. Just a little further back in class, 2017 sensation Field came
home in a delightful P4 and managing to keep the ever improving Cloete at bay with series sponsor Assure completing
the class line up.
With everyone managing to keep their body panels intact, the teams had very little preparation work before the start of
the 2 nd heat. Some good news for the camp of Mario Roux as they managed to get the car ready for the 2 nd heat and
salvage some valuable championship points. With rain pouring onto the track, the drivers lined up in their starting grid
positions but it was 1 st heat runner up Serfontein who came away with pole, sharing the front row with young Lazarus.
1 st winner Thompson headed the second row alongside Mr Consistency Field. Leading the 3 rd row was 2017 rookie Cloete
alongside series sponsor Assure. Roux having to start from the back of class after not posting a timed lap in the 1 st heat.
The lights went out and it was also a battle of traction for the middle class as driver was looking to edge out an
advantage over the next one. Thompson wasted no time and got the jump from P3 with the best start going to Roux
who find himself in P2 after starting from the back of class. However the celebration was short lived when the red flag
brought the session to a halt.
The drivers once again returned to their original starting positions and waited for the officials to clear the hazard in turn
4. The lights went out for the final time and in almost identical start to the 1 st start, it was yet again class champ
Thompson who got the holeshot, followed by Lazarus, Serfontein, Field, Cloete, Assure and Roux. Thompson was a man
on the move and had found something extra as he wasted no time in opening up an advantage over the rest of the pack.
However the lady luck struck Serfontein on the opening lap as faulty windscreen wipers and poor visibility would see the
class rookie enter parc ferme and retire from the heat. A huge disappointment for the latter after having such an
incredible 1 st heat.

With Thompson showing no signs of slowing down, the overall log leader cleared off into the distance. P2 man Lazarus
tried his best to stay with the leader, but had a big moment in turn 2 on the 2 nd lap and would ultimately see the 17 year
old retire prematurely his car developed technical issues after the off. With Roux unable to report his earlier
performance, an ecstatic Field now found himself promoted to 2 nd in class with Assure in podium contention. Roux then
also was held back by faulty windscreen wipers and couldn’t match the pace of the front runners and settled for points
in P4 with Cloete in his first wet race rounding out the pack.
A dominating Thompson took the chequered flag in fine style from a delightful Mr Consistency claiming his maiden
podium of the season with series sponsor Assure also taking his maiden podium. A cautious Roux claimed a valuable P4
with Cloete claiming wrapping up the class entrants.
Undoubtedly the place to be this season was in the wolfpack class C as there was no lack of action and close knit racing
by the most wildly popular category in main circuit racing. Not only was the action of the highest caliber, but the fierce
battles on track had the masses glued to the fence. The wolfpack was even more so popular that a wildcard entry by the
series chairman Zaki Hendricks (Wheelworx Golf I GTi) who could no longer just sit on the side and watch everyone else
have fun.
First to show his hand was Bridgehouse Matriculant and Franschoek resident Giordano Lupini (Accelerate 102 Special
Gasoline/CIR Construction Golf I GTi) as the ex VW cup campaigner came away with pole position. Sharing the front row
was inaugural overall champion Brett Roach (Mutual Car Valet Golf I GTi). On the 2 nd row it was an all Busi affair with
Brothers Marco & Dario in identical Golf I GTi’s. Sharing the 3 rd row were ex overall champions Jacques Geldenhuys
(Ferroli/G&A Motorsport Golf I GTi) & Christopher Swart (Village Paint & Hardware Edgemead Golf I GTi). Completing
the class entrants were Ian Kapp (Hydracor Hydraulics Golf I GTi), Hendricks & Paul Winter (Golf I GTi).
The wolfpack managed to get through qualifying unscathed and gave the times ample time to prep the cars of the 1 st
heat on the following day. With all the drivers well rested and cars prepared, the field made its way on the grid. Missing
from the grid however was Geldenhuys who withdrew on the morning of the raceday. Even more controversy struck
when pole man Lupini was involved in a warm up lap incident with a class B car. The youngster managed to get into his
grid slot before the field was brought under starters orders, but did not realize that the right front wheel was punctured.
The field was brought under starters orders as each driver was ready to do battle. But it seems that 2017 rookie Kapp
was just a little too eager to get underway as the ex karter launched his vehicle way ahead of the lights. With Kapp now
knowing that the COC’s would hand down a 30s penalty for his jump start, the ex karter kept his foot buried and lead the
hungry pack of wolfs into turn 1. The first casualty was another ex karter, young Lupini who realized that the warm up
lap incident had more dire consequences than initially encountered and returned to the pits on the opening lap to retire
from the heat.
With Kapp leading the freight train it was not long before the victory contenders pounced on the 2017 rookie. Current
champion Marco soon snatched the lead from Kapp with Roach, Dario and Swart following suit. A bitter spat ensured
between Marco & Roach which saw the 2 champs edged out a slight advantage over young Dario & Swart. However on
lap 3 Roach took a lunge at the current champ and minor contact was made on the exit of turn 5. But Marco was no
stranger to harsh tactics and managed to keep his lead. But what the 2 front runners didn’t realize was that young Dario
was catching up after having edged away from Swart.
On the penultimate lap young Dario was right on the rear bumper of Roach and fancied his chances of fighting for the
top step. What resembled 1 long 12 wheel car was actually the top 3 contenders for victory. With all 3 having had the
taste of victory, it was sure to create superb driving finesse. It was ex champ Roach who now found himself sandwiched
between the 2 Busi bothers and desperately looking for a way through on current champ Marco. But young Dario got his
strategy bang on and made a move on Roach with 1 lap to go. The 15 year old ex karter was now on the prawl and with
distance running out, was on the hunt to get one over big brother. Siblings off the track, Team mates on the track, but
victory has no limitiations. Although young Dario give it his all, big brother defended his lead to cross the line in a well
deserved P1 with Dario following suit in P2 to make it a Team Automan 1,2 with Roach clinching the final podium spot.

Ex champ Swart crossed the line in a lonely old P4 with Winter completing the top 5 followed by series chairman
Hendricks and Kapp completing the class line up.
With the class C brigade having done last minute checks, heat 1 pole man Lupini managed to get his vehicle ready for the
2 nd heat, but would now be starting right at the back of the grid. Pole went to 1 st winner Marco alongside Roach on the
front row. Row 2 was headed by Dario alongside ex champ Swart, Row 3 was shared by Winter and Kapp with Hendricks
and Lupini in the final row.
The lights went out and it was Marco who made the most of his higher order starting position with Roach, Dario and
Swart slotting in behind each other. The 4 front runners wasted no time and immediately opened up a margin of the rest
of the field. But disaster struck in turn 4 as ex champ Swart was eager for victory and attempted to overtake Dario on
the outside going onto the back main. But Swart then ran wide and made contact with the barrier on the outside of turn
4, the momentum then caused the vehicle to flip onto its side, which brought out the red flag and the session brought to
a halt. Officials were quick to react and a little shaken Swart was unscathed by the incident. Unfortunately the damage
to the vehicle was too severe and the 2013 overall champion was out of the race.
Once the track was cleared and the officials signaled the all clear, however before the restart could get underway,
Winter’s car started to run hot on the grid causing him to pull to the side and withdraw from the race. The lights went
out and it was almost a carbon copy of the 1 st heat, but the sensation of the restart was no doubt young Lupini who
reveled in the wet conditions to shoot through the field and make up vital ground on the front runners. But it was 1 st
heat winner Marco who was looking to clinch a double whammy and further increase his advantage in the class
championship.
The current champ got the holeshot for turn 1 with younger brother Dario gaining a position to slot into P2 with Roach
unable to keep up in the wet conditions. Meanwhile just down the order, ex karter Lupini was slicing his way through
the field and lap by lap clawed back positions. But the youngster had a moment in turn 1 when he just came in a tad too
hot and broke out into beautiful fwd drift, luckily he managed to catch the slide and was soon back on the gas, a close
call for the ex VW cup man.
It looked as if Marco had this 1 in the bag when on lap 4 disaster struck for the current champ as his car developed
technical difficulties and would see the ex WP karter retire from the heat to record his 2 nd DNF for the season. Team
mate and younger brother Dario was now gifted the lead but was not out of the woods yet as a speedy yellow bullet in
the form of Lupini was on the hunt and making up ground on the 15 year old. Competitors in karting and fighting it out
in heavier machiney, it resembled a throwback to the junior days.
But Dario kept his nose clean and crossed the line a superb P1 with young Lupini making a splendid recovery to finish in
P2 with Roach clinching a double P3 for the day. A delighted Kapp was all too happy with his brilliant P4 and take some
vital championship points with series chairman completing the top 5 and final place in the class.
It was yet another ball busting display of great racing from the Burly Pro Gti Challenge. Round 5 is set to take place at the
Killarney International Raceway in conjunction with the Wingfield Power Series on 14 July. Be sure not to miss another
nail biting round of the Cape’s most wildly popular main circuit series.


- Written By: Byron Wanza

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