Coetzee, Mankonkwana take first wins at Zwartkops

The 2023 Investchem Formula 1600 championship came to a fine end with two maiden winners at the Zwartkops’ Extreme Festival finale on Saturday.

With the title already decided Troy Dolinschek’s way, Jason Coetzee and Siyabonga Mankonkwana each won their first races in the series. Coetzee‘s opening race win also secured second in the championship ahead of Johannesburg rival Nicholas van Weely.

With Dolinschek already having claimed his champion’s ransom, the significance of difference between the R100,000 prize for second, and half of that for third, must have played hard on Coetzee, van Weely and Gerard Geldenhuys. While Alex Vos put his DV Building Supplies machine onto a surprise pole position, Coetzee was second in his Mint Wrapworks car. His rivals for second, Geldenhuys’ Abacus Divisions entry languished in eighth ahead of van Weely’s Magnificent Paint & Hardware machine in ninth.

Between them on the grid, Siyabonga Mankonkwana would start third in his red Investchem Mygale alongside rookie KC Ensor-Smith’s Vitro Frameless Glass car, while champion Troy Dolinschek’s Sujean Property entry and a feisty Production X lad Shrien Naidoo’s shared row three. Investchem SAFAIR driver Andrew Schofield was next from Geldenhuys, van Weely, Antwan Geldenhuys, KMFT Morita lad Karabo Malemela and Storm Lanfear’s AMD car.

Behind the wings and slicks Investchem Formula 1600 Mygales, a pack of Formula Ford Kents entertained on treaded tyres and without the help of downforce. Ian Schofield put his Investchem Swift on pole from Ronald van Weely’s Magnificent Paint & Hardware van Diemen, Investchem duo Allen Meyer and Matthys Strydom, Graham Hepburn’s Qualipak van Diemen. Pole man Alex Vos’ dad Duncan started at the back in his DV Swift.

A man on a mission, Jason Coetzee rocketed off the line into a lead he’d not relinquish as he stormed off to his maiden Investchem Formula 1600 win. Siyabonga Mankonkwana jumped to second off the start second, which he held throughout from Alex Vos. New champion Troy Dolinschek was left to fight Shrien Naidoo, KC Ensor-Smith, and Nicholas van Weely off for fourth. Karabo Malemela Gerard and Antwan Geldenhuys, and Storm Lanfear followed after Andrew Schofield stopped after six laps.

His dad Ian Schofield made short work of the Formula Ford Kent race to win from resurgent pair, Graham Hepburn, and Duncan Vos, with Ronald van Weely and Allen Meyer in chase after Matthys Strydom hit trouble.

Race 2 saw Alex Vos back on pole position from Mankonkwana, Coetzee, Dolinschek, Andrew Schofield, and Naidoo. But it was Mankonkwana who got away quickest and left Vos to deal with the squabbling Coetzee, Dolinschek, Naidoo and Nicholas van Weely. Vos eventually worked his way out of the pack as Dolinschek passed his compatriot for fourth, only for Coetzee’s race to come to a smoky end a lap from the finish with engine failure.

So, Siyabonga Mankonkwana made it two maiden winners on the day, from Alex Vos and 2023 Investchem Formula 1600 champion Troy Dolinschek. Nicholas van Weely followed from Shrien Naidoo, who Naidoo slipped back on a jumped start penalty. That elevated Antwan Geldenhuys, Storm Lanfear, Karabo Malemela and Gerard Geldenhuys after Andrew Schofield and KC Ensor-Smith did not start. Duncan Vos took Formula Ford Kent honours from Graham Hepburn, Allen Meyer, Matthys Strydom and Ronald van Weely after Ian Schofield did not start

Overall, Mankonkwana took the day from Vos, Dolinschek, Naidoo, van Weely and Antwan Geldenhuys. Hepburn took the Kent win from Duncan Vos and Meyer. And Troy Dolinschek takes the 2023 South African Investchem Formula 1600 champion’s R200,000 booty home, along with a Global Touring Cars test drive. Cape compatriot Jason Coetzee won R100,000 for second in the championship and Robert van Weely took the R50,000 for a super tight third over Gerard Geldenhuys, with Mankonkwana fifth from Vos.

That concludes the 2023 Investchem Formula 1600 championship. With two maiden winners on the day, and several young guns showing great pace later in the season, all augurs for a brilliant fresh new year of racing starting early in 2024.