Bloemfontein youngster Stuart White set his Road to Indy aspirations off to a perfect start when he dominated the Investchem Formula 1600 races at Kyalami’s Festival of Motoring on Saturday, leaving his rivals to fight over the scraps.
White qualified third on Friday evening but raced into the lead after a confusing first heat start to keep Benoni lad Cameron O’Connor under control in second, while Alex Gillespie fought back to third after a difficult start. White then raced to an untroubled race 2 win as a furious battle developed behind with Gillespie eventually emerging second over the recovered Nicholas van Weely.
The Investchem Formula 1600s switched to a new 5-speed sequential gearbox form Kyalami’s 2018 championship season opener, with the champion winning an all expenses paid trip to the Mazda Road to Indy Shootout in Phoenix, Arizona USA in December for the chance to fight it out for a full USF2000 drive as part of the Road to Indy program that ultimately could lead to a future IndyCar drive and a shot at the Indianapolis 500. That is over and above a healthy prize fund in the local series.
Cameron O’Connor caused a bit of a flutter when he put his newly sponsored Universal Racing machine onto his maiden pole position over Alex Gillespie (ERP Trucking) and Stuart White (Fantastic Racing) with Andrew Schofield (Investchem) next up from Andrew Rackstraw (Investchem RDSA) and the returning Harmen Van Beek.
There was drama on the start line as two cars stalled and it took a little time for Joshua Dolinschek (Makita Power Tools) and Allen Meyer’s Investchem cars to be removed before the lights went out, with Brendan Tracey (Investchem) stranded on the grid as the lights also caught a few drivers out as they extinguished. White shot into the lead with van Beek also overpowering O’Connor into second as that trio cleared off up front.
O’Connor made short work of Van Beek, moving into second down the Mineshaft on the first lap before setting off in wild pursuit of White up front. A second group fought over fourth a little further back with Gillespie, van Weely (Magnificent Paints), Andrew Schofield, Rackstraw and Andrew Horne (Investchem/Venpine/Xena) fighting it out. O’Connor continued in his leary pursuit of White up front, with van Beek slipping back to a lonely third over Gillespie, who made good progress as he fought back to fourth over Rackstraw and Schofield after a poor start.
Gillespie then made a break from his pursuers and closed van Beek down to pass him on lap 6, while O’Connor turned in the fastest lap in his pursuit of White. Dolinschek meanwhile caught and passed the Class B tussle between Ian Schofield and Allen Meyer. while van Weely stopped out on track with a lap to go after a throttle issue.
White closed off with the fastest lap to take an easy first race win over O’Connor and Gillespie with van Beek fourth from Rackstraw, Schofield, Horne and Namibian rookie Formula Vee graduate Siyabonga Mankonkwa (Cervina Investments); David Jermy, Tiago Rebelo and Class B duo, Allen Meyer eventually overcoming Ian Schofield for the win.
There was confusion on the grid again in race 2 as Dolinschek, Horne and Garth de Villiers were left on the startline as White once again sped into the lead with a fight for second snapping at his heels when the red flags flew to clear the grid. Yet another confused start followed with White leading away from Gillespie, van Weely and van Beek and O’Connor and Rackstraw suffering poor getaways this time round, but O’Connor soon took care of Schofield and was into the dice ahead as White cleared off up front.
Gillespie broke away from the group behind to chase White as the race progressed, as O’Connor fought with van Weely and Schofield as Rackstraw closed from behind as the lot of them closed van Beek down. O’Connor and van Weely were soon past van Beek as White led Gillespie and O’Connor with a five-car fight for fourth between van Weely, Schofield, van Beek, Rackstraw, Mankonkwana, but Rackstraw went off in the Esses on the final tour to leave van Beek to lead Schofield and Mankonkwa home with Jermy next up from Rebelo as Meyer once again beat Ian Schofield to class B honours.
O’Connor was however handed a 30-second jump start penalty to drop him from third to 11th ahead of de Villiers and Rackstraw with the rest moving up a spot as a result, but Stuart White took a dominant overall win in the end from Gillespie, van Beek, Andrew Schofield, Mankonkwana and O’Connor, with Meyer taking Class B for the day from Ian Schofield.
Investchem Formula 1600 and the Road to Indy heads to Cape Town for the Killarney Extreme Festival races Saturday 21 April with one question on fans’ minds - can anyone stop Stuart White…?