Unexpected winners and great racing in chaotic Gqeberha

There was great racing as much as there was chaos on track as surprise winner relied on national knowledge when the Pabar VW Challenge visited the Aldo Scribante racetrack for its second away race on the trot in Saturday’s Regional Festival races.

Cape Town wildcard Nathan Victor upset the Class A applecart as Rory Atkinson consolidated his championship lead, Victor’s Polo Cup rival Mo Karodia shared the honours in chaotic Class B, and fellow national racer Bjorn Bertholdt succeeded in Class C.

Cape Town GTi Challenge outfit Summit Racing made the trip north as the rest came south for the Aldo Scribante weekend. Summit GTi frontrunner Nathan Victor, who also races in the national CompCare Polo Cup, used his local knowledge gained from both of those series’ recent rounds to his best advantage to claim pole position by a handy four tenths of a second over the best of the regular field, champion, and leader Rory Atkinson’s purple BHIT Industrial Transport machine.

Atkinson was only a tenth clear of Wayne Masters Performance Masters version, an impressive Charl Smalberger back in third in the Sabertek Polo and Atkinson’s closest title rival, Bevin Masters also close behind in The CPS Warehouse Volkswagen among the all-Polo 6R Class A grid. Waldie Meintjes lined up sixth alongside local wildcard in the Jeandre Marais other Summit Racing entry out of the Cape. Dean Ross’ Norbrake Distributors car, Pabar man Mike Barbaglia, Luigi Ferro’s Eco Simply Solar car, MDS Consulting lad Mydi Mfana and PSA Africa lass Nicole Lombard closed off the top class grid.

A small field of Class C entries made the trip to Nelson Mandela Bay and lined up behind the Class A field on the shared grid. Another national competitor, Bjorn Bertholdt made best of his local knowledge racing the National Extreme festival in the Toyota Gazoo Yaris League, to put his Renergen Polo Vivo on pole position from class and overall Pabar VW Challenge championship leader Yotti Nousias’ We Fix Cars machine and Allan Pereira’s Daisy. Phillip Croeser failed to post a time in his ATE Brakes car but lined up fourth on the all-Polo Vivo Brat Pack grid.

Racing alone as always on the day, reigning champion and 2023 challenger Hannes Scheepers put his Dainfern Dental Polo on Class B pole position, two tenths of a second clear of racing ladies, Charisse Piazza-Musso’s Hot 102.7 FM car and Elna Croeser’s ATE Brakes version, and Ethan Coetzee’s JRT Racing Experiences with the three of them within a few hundredths of a second. Coetzee’s Polo Cup rival Mohammed Karodia’s Fast 5 Motorsport car and Eco Simply Solar Tinahe Ncube shared the third row of the grid.

Jacques Hayes’s Platinum Wheels entry, Shiren Rajpaul’s Dubcorp Polo, Francois van Zyl’s Jesus Saves Vivo and Xander Human completed the top ten ahead of Class A refugee Dewald Theron’s new Class B Garrun Group Polo, JRT entry Mitch Coetzee and Milan Emslie, Stuart Mack in the Nathan's Motorsport Class X litre turbo prototype struggling a little in the thick coastal air, and Chris Davison’s Himoinsa Polo.

The first Classes A and C race was a reasonably straightforward affair. Rory Atkinson took the holeshot, but it was Cape lad Nathan Victor who moved ahead and romped off to his maiden win in either the Pabar VW series or, or his home GTi Challenge. Satisfied with his lot, Atkinson came home second, while Wayne Masters overcame Charl Smalberger form third. Title contender Bevin Masters was only fourth from local hope Jeandre Marais, Waldie Meintjes, Mydi Mfana, Mike Barbaglia, Luigi Ferro, and a struggling Nicole Lombard after Dean Ross retired on lap 3. Behind them, Bjorn Bertholdt finally put one over Yotti Nousias in Class C, with Philip Croeser third from Allan Pereira.

Far from straightforward, the opening Class B race proved chaotic from lights to flag. It started with pole man Hannes Scheepers being caught out by the starting procedure and bogging down on the grid. Somehow, everyone managed to avoid the stricken Polo, but Ethan Coetzee however tagged Elna Croeser in the Sweep, sending her into the tyre wall. That left Charisse Piazza-Musso leading from Mo Karodia. Then Tinahe Ncube blew an engine at the hairpin and Shiren Rajpaul pulled over, also with a blown engine.

The slick track caught Piazza Musso out to allow Karodia into the lead as Dean Ross ploughed into the tyre wall at the hairpin. All of which left Polo Cup racer Karodia to stave Piazza-Musso for the win with Ethan Coetzee a distant third from Hannes Scheepers, Francois van Zyl, Xander Human, Dewald Theron, Mitch Coetzee, Chris Davison, Stuart Mack, and Shiren Rajpaul in a race of attrition. The race was then declared null and void due to a starting procedure infringement with another heat added at the end of the day, but that decision was protested. Which leaves the results provisional and subject to an impending hearing.

It was back to normal as Cape Town wildcard Nathan Victor sped off to a double victory second Class A race as Rory Atkinson did what he had to in second. His championship situation was helped by a determined Charl Smalberger pipping Wayne Masters to third as Jeandre Marais did his home fans proud in fifth from Waldie Meintjes, Mydi Mfana, Luigi Ferro, Mike Barbaglia, and Nicole Lombard. In another dramatic development, Class A championship contender Bevin Masters failed to start the second race. Behind the Class A action, Bjorn Bertholdt held Yotti Nousias off in a brilliant spat for the second Class C win with Challenge Chairman Philip Croeser and Allan Pereira in pursuit.

The second Class B race was also a far calmer affair as Hannes Scheepers held Mo Karodia off for a half-second victory. Charisse Piazza-Musso passed and then held Ethan Coetzee off for third. Stuart Mack had a better second race in the litre prototype ahead of Xander Human, Milan Emslie, Mitch Coetzee, Elna Croeser, Chris Davison Dewald Theron and Jacques Hayes.

Overall, Cape Polo Cup wildcard Nathan Victor took the A win from spiritual Pabar VW Challenge winner Rory Atkinson, Wayne Masters, Charl Smalberger, local lad Jeandre Marais and Waldie Meintjies. Bevin Masters’ race 2 no score means that brother Wayne now moves up to second, still a handful of points behind leader Atkinson with two rounds left to run.

The Class B result remains provisional, but for all intents and purposes, it was another Polo Cup regular, the delighted Mo Karodia who emerges the unofficial overall winner for the day from Charisse Piazza Musso and now close championship rivals, Hannes Scheepers and Ethan Coetzee. And while yet another national competitor Bjorn Bertholdt took Class C honours for the day, that result will hardly dent Yotti Nousias overall and class championship lead, leaving the focal point there down to Berthold chasing Philip Croeser down for second.

The Pabar VW Challenge now takes a break while those drivers complete their national campaigns, before returning to action for the penultimate championship round at Red Star Raceway’s Regional Festival near Delmas on Saturday 21 October.

*VW Challenge salutes its partners, Pabar Automotive Pressings, Habot Performance Lubricants, Dunlop tyres, Habot Performance Lubricants, ATS Motorsport Supplies, Platinum Wheels, Habot Synthetic Oils, ATE Brakes, Norbrake, Eco Simply Solar, Insurisk insurance brokers, Pozidrive, Eeziparts, Van der Linde Developments, MDS Consulting Engineers, FSS Logistics, and Bush & Buck.