Racing scions Lupini, Dolinschek, Variawa & Campos win

Killarney’s National Extreme Festival proved the day of the thoroughbred motor racing scions as first-time winners and local heroes thrilled the impressive Cape Town crowd that braved a chilly, breezy day of the races. They were rewarded with great racing new hometown heroes to cheer and historic results on a day to remember.

All four of SA’s top racing categories turned up maiden winners, two of them being new local heroes, and all of them scions of famous racing families. Cape drivers, fourth-generation lad Giordano Lupini took his maiden win in the opening CompCare Polo Cup heat, while third generation lightie Troy Dolinschek took the second Investchem Formula 1600 win and the day. Two second generation Gauteng lads, Saood Variawa won the second Global Touring Car race, while new dad Keegan Campos dominated SupaCup.

Lupini, whose family racing roots go as far back to his great-grandfather in the 1920s, put his Polo onto the tightest pole position in CompCare Polo Cup history with just five-hundredths of a second separating the top five on the grid. Giordano led from lights to flag and set a new Polo lap record as he controlled the opening race from the front. He was chased all the way by Cape compatriot Charl Visser, Dawie van der Merwe, Clinton Bezuidenhout, Tate Bishop and Jurie Swart.

Van der Merwe and local lads Bishop and Swart then escaped a wild second heat melee to top that podium. Visser fought back from those early dramas to beat Bezuidenhout, impressive local debutant Nathan Victor and Lupini, who likewise had to come from the back. That sets up an epic Zwartkops finale with just one point between Bezuidenhout, van der Merwe and Swart in that championship chase, with Visser, Bishop and Lupini ready to pick up the pieces.

Dolinschek is the scion of another racing family and his father and granddad both raced successfully in the Cape and nationally for many a year too. Troy, who like his Polo Cup compatriot, had dominated Friday practice, but he had an issue in qualifying to see him only fifth on the grid behind Josh Le Roux, Gerard Geldenhuys, Siyabonga Mankonkwana and Antwan Geldenhuys. Le Roux was however too far gone by the time Dolinschek had fought back to second ahead of Gerard, Mankonkwana, Andrew Schofield and Alex Vos.

There were however enough laps left in race 2 for Dolinschek, who once again had to fight back from fifth, to reel Le Roux in. Joshua took Gerard and Vos past Le Roux with him as he went by to take this first flag win after coming in behind the safety car last time out, as Le Roux faded to allow Mankonkwana Schofield and another local lad Jason Coetzee into the top six. Dolinschek took the day from Gerard, Mankonkwana, Vos, Schofield, and Coetzee to keep a mathematical championship chance open behind Le Roux and Geldenhuys. They go into the finale just a handful of points apart.

Teenage Global Touring Car ace Saood Variawa is another driver who grew up in racing with his dad being a former SA Cross Country champion and a present-day Dakar racer. Saood may have won his third GTC day overall on Saturday, but his second heat victory was also his maiden race win. Saood fought hard to overcome championship leader and pole man Robert Wolk’s similar Toyota Corolla as he took second in race 1, in a line ahead of teammate Michael van Rooyen and local duo, Julian van der Watt’s Ford and Andrew Rackstraw in an Audi.

Saood was well positioned in third at the restart of the second race red flagged after a SupaCup crash behind, to pounce on Gazoo teammates Mandla Mdkane and van Rooyen and open up an advantage. Variawa was unable to overcome to take that maiden victory from Wolk, Mdakane and Rackstraw. Variawa and Wolk also shared out the fastest lap bonus points, the upshot of which is that Wolk adds just one point to his twenty point advantage by dint of his pole position as the title fight heads to that Zwartkops finale.

Not to be outdone, another South African motor racing scion, Keegan Campos, whose dad is still racing against him in SupaCup, scored his first overall win of the day with a first race victory in a crunching day at the races. Keegan, who recently also celebrated the birth of their daughter with Polo Cup winner and SA W Series driver Tasmin Pepper, took advantage of first lap heat 1 chaos to win the opening races

Jonathan Mogotsi chased Campos throughout race 1 as Leyton Fourie pipped home hero Danie van Niekerk to the post for third and Jeffrey Kruger took advantage of a late safety car to fight back to fifth from Daniel Rowe. Race 2 was stopped after Mogotsi and van Niekerk crashed, but Campos was quick to forge ahead after the restart to lead Kruger, Rowe, and David Franco home, but Fourie took the race when its two parts were added. Paul Luti took the Masters win from Roberto Franco and championship leader Nick Davidson, while Fourie made a slight gain on Kruger in their overall title tussle.

The G&A Extreme Supercars were the other major Extreme Festival attraction to thrill the crowd over three scintillating Killarney heats with action throughout the field. Class A trio Charl Arangies’ Audi R8, Jonathan du Toit’s Lamborghini and Franco Scribante’s Porsche set the tone with blistering 1 minute 8 second laps in qualifying, before Arangies held du Toit and Scribante off in a tight duel that saw them within a second at the flag.

Behind them, GT3 duo Gianni’s Nissan GT-R, cousin Ricardo Giannoccaro’s Lamborghini and Xolile Letlaka’s similar Class A car entertained. Jason Ibbotson’s Ferrari however came from behind to steal second from Gianni in GT3. Scribante then came out fighting to take race 2 from du Toit and Arangies, while Ibbotson beat Gianni and Ricardo Giannoccaro in a tight and entertaining GT3 tussle.

Scribante led again early in race 3, but the Porsche stopped to leave du Toit to fight Arangies off for the win and make it three different winners on the day. Du Toit also took overall victory by all of half a second from Arangies. Top GT3 man Ibbotson ended third for the day from local hero and Class D winner Dawie Joubert’s Porsche and Class A victor Letalaka. Ricardo beat Gianni Giannoccaro to second in GT3, Kwanda Mokoena took Class B in his Audi R8 and Gary Kieswetter’s Porsche won Class B.

Cape Town Scribe Ashley Oldfield joined the hometown success story as he left Killarney just one point away from wrapping up the first Extreme Festival championship of 2022 with yet another double victory in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris Media Cup. His cause was assisted by Sean Nurse taking second in both races from Oldfield’s closest title rival Tom Falkiner, Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger, Mark Jones and Lerato Matabese.

A trio of Mobil 1 V8 Supercar races joined the Extreme festival bill, as Mackie Adlem took the opening race win from Franco Di Matteo’s similar Jaguar and Thomas Reib’s Falcon. Adlem took another lights-to-flag victory over Reib and Julian Fameliaris’ Corvette in race 2 before Fameliaris led the final until his Corvette stopped mid distance. That allowed Adlem, who had fought back to second after an early slip, through for a hat trick of wins from Michael Nel’s Corvette and Reib.

Last but not least, the local Thermo Fires Clubmen kept the home crowd on the edge of their seats right to the end in spite of the cold, wind, and impending darkness. Clint Rennard’s Golf took race 1 from BMW duo Achmat Achmat and older Dolinschek brother Joshua, legend Jess Huggett’s Jetta and two more BMWs driven by Mansoor Parker and Daanyaal Coetzee. Shane du Toit then slithered his wild Golf 1 to race 2 honours over Alex Johnson’s Audi, Dolinschek, Huggett, overall winner Achmat and Michael le Sueur’s Golf.

That leaves all four of the National Extreme Festival’s premier championships poised on a knife’s edge leading up to what can only be a wild season finale at Zwartkops in Pretoria on Saturday 15 October. Should be a cracker – diarise it now!