By: Colin Windell
Port Shepstone: It was family day at Dezzi Raceway, Oslo Beach at the weekend – but not the usual kind. Siblings Rylee and Hannah Puren crashed into each other in the 150 motorcycles qualifying and brothers Meredith and Quentin Willis collided in the second heat of the historic race.
The latter incident saw the Gaydons Midas Escort of Quentin Willis roll spectacularly before ending up on its roof, with marshals and the medics quickly on scene to extricate the driver who emerged a bit battered and bruised but with no major injuries.
The day started in fine form, with a superb race in the opening heat between Stuart Armstrong (Ford Escort) and Meredith Willis (Hopgood Ford Escort). The other Willis played a watching game in third place.
Armstrong made the running in the opening laps and held off Meredith Willis until midway through the 10-lap race, when the latter found a way past to lead for the next couple of laps before having to concede the win to Armstrong.
“I was battling to select third gear and that gave Stuart the chance to pass me,” said Willis. “It will be sorted in time for the second heat, so watch this space.”
John Bronner, in an Alfa Romeo, finished fourth in the heat, followed by the Ford Escort of Dave Armstrong.
Prophetic words indeed! At the start of the second heat, Armstrong jumped into the early lead, with Quentin Willis “mugging” his brother at the first corner to claim second place on the road. That set up a chase for the next few laps as Meredith steadily hunted down his brother.
With the race almost done, Meredith dived for a gap at Turn 1, just clipping the rear of brother’s car and sending it into the rollover that also brought out the red flag.
The race, having completed eight of the 10 laps, was called with the overall positions as they were at the end of lap eight. The consolation was Armstrong took his second win for the day, with Quentin Willis second, Meredith Willis third, followed again by Bronner and Dave Armstrong.
The 150 Class motorcycles was not done with mischief after the incident with the Puren siblings and, en route to his slot at the front of the grid, Jesse Conci (Helluvafast Honda CBR150) was surprised by Quin St John Ward (Brink Towbars Honda) stopping on his allotted grid position and they collided – a damaged radiator and fairing ruling Conci out of the race.
This left the track wide open for Zane Davidson (Husqvarna 85) to scoot off to a 2.3 second win over Murray Smith (KTM 85), followed by Caydon Potgieter (RMC Auto Repairs Honda), Sven Christensen (Paarl Brewery Honda) and Florian Kroeber (Honda).
With a hastily repaired motorcycle, Conci came back in heat two and from the back of the grid to win from Davidson, Smith, Potgieter and Kroeber.
As usual, the Modified Production Cars provided close racing throughout the classes and was not devoid of drama, with the qualifying sessions seeing the demise of Rob Prece (Dubcorp VW Golf) with a blown engine and Garry Commins (Mobile Auto Repairs VW Golf) with a broken clutch plate.
Then, in the race Keegan Sansom (R&M Plant Hire VW Golf) had a spectacular departure from the track going down the ‘Mineshaft’ – the fastest part of the circuit. Jostling for position and on the right side of the road where there is a bit of bump, a slight ‘rub’ with another car sent him into the air and the earth bank – fortunately without injury.
Up front, it was a hectic battle with Henk Lombard (PSA Africa VW Scirocco) just edging out the M-Trace Golf of Elton Fuchs by 0,6 seconds to take the chequered flag. Pierre-Richard Potgieter (PS Performance VW Golf) finished third overall from Ronald van Rensburg (Hendok Goldwagen VW Golf) and Manfred Schroder (BMW Ti 3000).
Fuchs took his revenge in the second heat and again after a mighty tussle scorched across the finish line a mere 0,55 seconds ahead of Lombard with Potgieter in third place. George Purchase (VW Golf) finished fourth ahead of Nicole Lombard (PSA Africa VW Scirocco).
Natal speedster Malcolm Rudman, who should be demonstrating his skills on the international circuit, had a runaway win in the opening heat of the Formula Extreme motorcycles, taking his Optimech Kawasaki to a 13.7 second victory over Liaan Smit (Dalco Yamaha R6), with Calvin da Silva a long way back in third place on the (Eis Triumph Daytona 600).
Stephen Puren (Kawasaki ZX 600) finished fourth, ahead of Clinton Massey-Hicks (Carshop.co.za Honda CBR600).
Heat two was a repeat of the first for Rudman who ran away to a 34.4 second win over Da Silva, Puren, Massey Hicks and fifth-placed Sandile Mtembu (Honda CBR 1000).
Just for fun, Rudman jumped aboard a borrowed Motard for the second heat of that class and, although not set up for him, came from the back of the grid to finish second.
The Motard riders whose oft-time kamikaze riding thrills the crowds is always a hard-fought battle. In the opening encounter of the day, it was Sean Joffe (Jade Joffe Husqvarna 450) who emerged victorious from Nick Louw (Yamaha 450). Craig Dunnington (Captain Cool Ice KTM 450) finished third, ahead of Phillip Niewoudt (Husqvarna 45) and Brent Goulding (Husqvarna 450).
The second heat was also good for Joffe who hung on for the win despite the spectre of Rudman looming large behind him. Third place was taken by Dunnington. Cameron van der Nest (Husqvarna 450) was in fourth, ahead of Niewoudt.
The Sports Cars and GT category is always a wonderful mix of cars. On this occasion, David Rabie, in the Suzuki Hayabusa-powered space frame, took line honours in the first heat from Denver Branders in his recently acquired V8 Roadster. Leo Branders (Lotus 1000) occupied third place from Jonathan Edwards (Formula M 600) and Rob Mordaunt (Allied Transport Lotus Birkin 1600).
Heat two saw Rabie streak away to take his second win for the day from Denver Branders, Leo Branders, Edwards and Mordaunt.
The Powersport 300 motorcycles provided entertaining racing action, with Kyle Robertson (Bolt&Nut Centre Yamaha R3) making the running in the opening heat to win by a scant 0.2 seconds from Peter St John-Ward (Durban West Auto Kawasaki). Marc Nel (Eva Group KTM) was in third place, chased by Duncan Day (Yamaha 450) and Stephen Puren (Kawasaki 300).
Robertson repeated his win in the second heat – again a mighty tussle with St John-Ward and, this time, crossing the line only 0.064 seconds in front. Llewelyn Puren (Honda NSR) finished third ahead of Day and Marc Nel.
The next meeting at Dezzi Raceway is August 20 followed a week later by a round of the National Endurance Series.