Robust racing in Cape Super Series
Round 2 of the Super Series at Cape Town's Killarney circuit produced a feast of what could perhaps best be described as robust racing, with a number of cars the worse for wear at the end of the day, especially in the premier Production Class.
The two seven-lap Production Car sprints became no-holds-barred metal to metal confrontations, but when the dust and noise had settled after the first it was pretty much what the pundits had expected, with the BMWs finishing in the order which they qualified: first and second. Johan Fourie romped away with it, Etienne van der Linde riding shotgun - and keeping a train of Audis behind him.
There was little they were able to do, and the Beemers led a pair of S4s home, with Hennie Groenewald next in his Subaru.
Competitors experiencing problems included Richard Pinard, whose Subaru ingested its brake fluid, leaving him with seriously weakened stopping power, and Michael Stephen, who had his right rear tyre deflate after a wheel-to-wheel incident with Groenewald.
Stephen's second race also went badly, compounded by starting from the back of the grid and he retired after five laps with rising water temperature after a seized pulley dislodged the waterpump belt.
The inverted grid put John Mayer on pole but he was soon swallowed up in the rolling start, Groenewald making the most of the early congestion to pull ahead in the Subaru. Sipuka, Bonafede and Priest all soon had their Audis ahead of the E90 3-series, with the works BMWs also rapidly getting ahead of Mayer.
Fourie was on a mission to hunt down the four-circle cars, but try as he might there were determined not to let the blue and white propeller past. Less than three seconds separated the first six cars at the flag, with Van der Linde at the back of that queue and Pinard and Mayer some distance in arrears.
Van Rooyen converted his second on the grid into a win, holding off an enthusiast challenge from Nathan. But it was Formato who made the early running from pole, before being forced to retire with broken front suspension.
Duminy gave Ford's challenge a semblance of decency with third and Robertson was a contented fourth. Cronje was next, lamenting the fact that he wasn't able to remove the 50kg of ballast - a concession made by the series organisers to the Mini's low engine capacity - in time for the start.
Formato's hastily repaired car was good enough to win with in Race 2, comfortably ahead of Nathan and Cronje - now significantly lighter than earlier and able to challenge Nathan. Van Rooyen was slowed by a cracked manifold while Robertson didn't get out of the pits.
The 14-lap main event produced a bright new star as Gennaro Bonafede took a popular win, just holding off reigning champion Michael Stephen in a similar Audi S4.
The lanky Pretoria engineering student was almost speechless with delight.
“Wow - I can't believe it - just weeks after my worst race meeting ever I have a flag to flag win and my first in the Audi,” he grinned. “At the end the tyres were going off and I can't remember the last time I was so happy to see the flag!”
Stephen had been hot on his bumper for a number of laps and second was a highlight of a frustrating weekend. His team mate Tschops Sipuka was third, with only a second separating the top three after 14 hard laps.
A number of competitors didn't get off the grid (and Devin Robertson in the Big Boss Renault didn't get out of the pits after his engine woes continued): Michael van Rooyen in the Chevrolet Cruze ran into the back of Gary Formato, who had stalled his Ford Focus ST on the grid, the resultant impact eliminating both cars. If nothing else, the incident demonstrated just how quickly the Killarney marshals can clear a grid of a damaged car.
En route to the first corner there was a three-way coming together as Hennie Groenewald found his Subaru STI sandwiched between the two 'works' BMWs, the resultant bumping and bashing leaving Johan Fourie with suspension so badly rearranged that the car was undriveable.
There was further argy-bargy between Groenewald and the Audi S4 of Melvill Priest, the two tangling when the latter missed a gear and they ended up vying for the same piece of tarmac.
Stephen working his way through the field was one of the highlights of the event, and if there was a 15th lap he may well have been celebrating a win.
With the class T numbers decimated early on it was left to the Golfs of Graeme Nathan and Jacques Joubert and the Castrol MINI of Gavin Cronje to provide the action. That more or less dissolved when Nathan's gearbox shed most of its gears, the reigning champion eventually left with only third, limping around and still managing fourth place…
Cronje progressively pulled away slowly from Joubert, the Mini proving exceptionally strong on the brakes. In third place was Shaun Duminy (Ford Focus ST), adamant that this would be his last race in the old car.
The twisted and battle-scarred evident in the post-race paddock suggest there's plenty of work to be done by plenty of teams if they're going to be in Port Elizabeth in three weeks' time for Round 3.
VW POLO CUP
Kosie Weyers turned out to be the hometown hero, as a double victory and first overall for the day bolstered his championship hopes with a 27 point lead after the first two rounds.
Weyers made his move from second on the grid in Race 1 to grab the lead from Shaun La Reservée, although the latter mounted a counter-attack that lasted the rest of the eight-lap race.
Mark Silverwood had a good start in Race 1, moving from a fifth on the grid to fourth before going out due to a gear selector nut, the loss of which meant he could not select any gears. Ahead of Silverwood, Tasmin Pepper and Bryan Morgan were involved in an on-track incident that sent Morgan to the back of the pack.
La Reservée pressured Weyers throughout the race as he tried to take point but Weyers would have none of it. The finishing line saw them cross virtually side-by-side in a dash for the line, with the Weyers ahead at the moment of truth by 0.095sec. Third was Pepper, claiming her first podium result of the season.
The second leg saw Weyers again dash for the lead, this time from thrd on the grid. Mathew Hodges st off in pursuit of the race leader, but Weyers was not letting anybody past him.
A Turn 1 incident saw Simon Moss hit and spin Pepper who was then hit by another three competitors. This incident eliminated Pepper, Juan Gerber and Ryan Rhode. Mandla Mdakane, who also hit Pepper continued, but found himself at the back of the field.
Fourth place starter Trevor Bland managed to avoid the carnage and moved into third, where he finished ahead of pole starter La Reservée and Silverwood, who started ninth but worked his way up to a strong fourth.
BACK ON TRACK
Guest racer Denis Droppa, editor of our sister publication Star Motoring, who competed in the first two seasons of Polo Cup racing in 1997 and 1998 found that the series is just as tough today as it was when he competed full-time. While the more experienced racers outpaced him, Droppa made good progress during the weekend, improving his laptimes by three seconds to get within 2.3 seconds of the race winner.
Droppa competed as a Masters racer, the category for Polo Cup competitors over the age of 27. In this category it was Eddie Rodrigues who put in the best performance of the day, winning his class in both races and finishing eighth overall in Race 2.