Drama, action & new winners aplenty
The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit delivered a supreme weekend of action as race fans were treated to top drawer racing in ideal conditions highlighted by new winners, champions and drama of the highest order at the home of South African motorsport. The drama started on Friday afternoon with trouble and incidents in several classes before Saturday thrilled a happy crowd with great racing.
The premier Sasol GTC championship action was intense with a first time winner and a new champion crowned on the day as the first twist struck Friday morning, when VW Motorsport driver Mathew Hodges’ Jetta ran into trouble and teammate Daniel Rowe handed his car to his teammate, who was better positioned in the championship race to best prepare for the race.
That plan worked well as Hodges put it fourth on the grid behind first time GTC pole sitter Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW) and title protagonists Michael Stephen (Engen Audi) and Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW), while Keagan Masters made it a VW Motorsport 1-2 ahead of teammate Mandla Mdakane and Christopher Shorter (Champion BMW) in GTC2.
Fourie, Hodges, Stephen and Bonafede then delivered a great 8-lap opening race, fighting to the finish in that order ahead of Simon Moss (Engen Audi), Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW), Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW) and Rowe, while Keagan Masters took Class B honours from Shorter, Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini), VW Golf privateers Trevor Bland (TB) and Charl Smalberger (iCorp) and Mdakane.
The 12-lap reverse grid second race delivered extreme drama with Rowe starting from pole before Gennaro Bonafede took over up front pursued by Stephen, but the BMW stopped on lap 9 to allow Michael Stephen’s Audi to take the win to consolidate his championship lead over his stricken rival. Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe ended up second and third for Volkswagen to see to it that Hodges took the day from Stephen and Rowe, followed by Moss, Bonafede and race 1 winner Fourie.
Bradley Liebenberg dominated the second GTC2 race for Mini, only to suffer a turbo failure on the last tour to allow Trevor Bland to sneak the win from Liebenberg, with overall winner Shorter third from Smalberger, Mdakane and Masters, but sixth on the road was enough to allow Keagan Masters to secure a well deserved back-to-back Sasol GTC2 championship for Volkswagen motorsport.
The G&H Extreme Supercars lived up to their name with the action going to the extreme Friday evening as Charl Arangies put his brand new Stradale Aston Martin Vantage GT3 onto pole position from Johan Engelbrecht (Jogajogga Porsche 911 GT2), Ferrari 458 duo Marcel Angel and Craig Jarvis. But Jarvis and Engelbrecht collided late in the session, putting both cars out for the weekend and leaving the Ferrari severely damaged.
That left Arangies to romp off to a double debut victory aboard his Aston Martin from Toby Venter, who fought back to second after missing qualifying in his mighty Porsche 911 GT2 R and Marcel Angel’s Ferrari. Jonathan du Toit was fourth in race 1 from double Class A winner Adrian Dalton’s BMW, while Saul Hack’s Porsche and Mark du Toit’s Ferrari F360 shared Class C wins and Len-Henry Gobey took Class E both times in his BMW M3.
There was more Friday drama in the Engen Volkswagen Cup as newly crowned champion Devin Robertson ended up in hospital with fractured ribs after a practice accident to eliminate him from the weekend too. That left Masters championship hopeful Juan Gerber (Haupt) on pole position from Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Health), Clinton Bezuidenhout (Signature) Darren Oates and VW Motorsport duo Jonathan Mogotsi and Kuda Vazhure and Darren Oates.
Gerber then dominated race 1 from Kruger, Bezuidenhout, Oates and Mogotsi, with Benjamin Habig sixth from Vazhure, Matt Shorter, Tasmin Pepper and Jano van der Westhuizen. Darren Oates then scored his maiden VW Cup victory in the second race over teammate Juan Gerber, who secured the Masters championship in the process. Kruger ended third from Pepper, Shorter, Vazhure, Mogotsi, Habig, van der and Simon Need as Gerber took the overall win from Kruger and Oates.
South Africa’s French Formula 4 winner Stuart White (Fantastic Racing) served notice of his weekend intentions by taking an emphatic Investchem Formula 1600 pole position from 2017 champion Julian van der Watt (RDSA) and Cameron O’Connor, who sat in a tight fight for the title second with White.
White then proceeded to take a double victory from Wesley Vosloo, O’Connor, Alex Gillespie, Brad Beningfield, Joshua Dolinschek and debutant Andrew Rackstraw after van der Watt hit trouble in race 1 and ahead of O’Connor, van der Watt, Gillespie, Vosloo, Dean Venter and Brad Beningfield in race 2. White secured second in the championship over O’Connor with overall victory over O’Connor and Vosloo.
The old school SAMCAR V8s brought rolling thunder and a young versus old battle back to Kyalami as young Benjamin Morgenrood (Mustang) took the opening race from veterans Larry Wilford (Falcon), his dad Ben Morgenrood (Mustang), Thomas Reib (Lumina), Romano Sartori (Mustang) and Steve Herbst (Corvette). Wilford and Ben Morgenrood gained revenge for the old school in race 2 with the younger Morgenrood third from Franco Di Matteo, Herbst and Bevan Schwarz.
The Amada Volkswagen Challenge provided perhaps the biggest drama of the day when Class A championship rivals Iain Pepper (Husqvarna Polo) and Stiaan Kriel clashed in race 1 rendering Pepper Hors de combat as Kriel raced on to win, only to be penalised and placed behind Pepper at the foot of the results.
That left Devon Piazza Musso (Allegiande Polo) to take the win from Waldie Meintjes (LTR Polo) and Wayne Crous (Delway Polo) with Adrian Wood (Laserfiche) taking Class B and Rory Atkinson Class C. Kriel struck back to once again cross the line first in race 2, but his car failed a technical check to hand victory to Pepper from the day’s overall winner Meintjes, Piazza Musso and Crous as Wood and Atkinson took the smaller class wins again.
Jaco Schriks stormed to a double Formula Vee victory ahead of the similar Rhema 2 VWs of Siyabonga Mankonkwana and Peter Hills, Luchen Ramchander (Forza VW), Anthony Taylor and Ross Rugheimer. Schriks beat Mankonkwana again in race 2 with Ramchander third from Rugheimer, Peter and Brandon Hills.
Louis Cloete impressed the Kyalami crowd by racing to the first 111 Saloon race win in his old school VW Beetle ahead of veteran racer George Bezuidenhout (Nissan) and Kevin Miller (Ford). Andre van Vuuren (Porsche) took Class B, Danie Deysel (Honda Civic) Class C, Craig Botha (Golf) Class D and Mark Gregory (Golf) Class E. George Bezuidenhout then took race 2 from Lucas Bezuidenhout (Toyota) and Miller, while Veritie-Anne Joubert (Ballade) beat the boys to Class B, Mark Ellis (Porsche 924) took Class C and Botha and Gregory won D and E again.
The autoBarn Superhatches shared the racetrack with the 111 Saloons to see Brett Garland emerge a double winner in his autoBarn Civic over Karel Stols (RunX) and class B winner Zane van Zyl (VW Golf) each time, while Craig Priestly (Ford Laser) and Barry Viljoen (Opel Kadett) shared out the Class C honours.
Three motorcycle races rounded off the action with Sven Grune beating Graeme van Breda and Jaco Gous to overall Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters honours as Gene Robinson, Jonty Collard and Michael Smit rounded off the top six, Sanjiv Singh took Class B and Teddy Brooke Class C.
Masters rider Coen Erasmus (Suzuki) meanwhile took Bridgestone Challenge honours over Class B rider Reino Kruger (Kawasaki) and another Master, Joe Herbig (MV Augusta). Chris Kruger (Kawasaki) took Class C and Loutjie Vermeulen (Suzuki) Class D.
Alex van den Berg meanwhile raced the new Suzuki GSXR to its first win in South Africa in the first Bridgestone Challenge bike race from Shaun Vermaak (Kawasaki) ZX and Neil van Loggerenberg, with Pierre Grobler (Kawasaki) taking Sub 10 honours. Dean Vos (Kawasaki) took race 2 from Hendrik de Bruyn (Yamaha) and Vermaak, while Grobler took another Sub 10 win.
The Engen Volkswagen Cup and Investchem Formula 1600 championships wound up at Kyalami, with most other 2017 classes to come to a head at the Extreme Festival finale at Zwartkops Saturday 25 November.