Bent cars, battered title aspirations and brilliant spectacle typified Rounds 19 and 20 of the 2001 Midas Production Car Championship at the East London Grand Prix circuit on Saturday (October 27). The year's overall Midas Championship lead ...
Bent cars, battered title aspirations and brilliant spectacle typified Rounds 19 and 20 of the 2001 Midas Production Car Championship at the East London Grand Prix circuit on Saturday (October 27).
The year's overall Midas Championship lead changed hands in the process, with South Africa's largest circuit racing title chase now destined to go all the way to the wire.
Shaun van der Linde (Castrol BMW 328i) emerged as the new overall points leader, snatching the inside track from former title favourite Cor Kraamwinkel (Goldi Chicken Opel Kadett 140iS).
With two of the season's 22 races left to run, Van der Linde and Kraamwinkel will fight for the overall 2001 Midas title at the year's final meeting around the Pretoria Zwartkops circuit on November 10.
Van der Linde took the championship lead in style, winning both of Saturday's Class A races ahead of his Castrol BMW team mate Michael Briggs, in an identical 328i model. The Castrol BMW pairing showed their winning intentions by storming into the first two places at the start of the opening race.
Never seriously challenged, they took first and second places, with Van der Linde setting the quickest lap to earn a bonus championship point. Behind them, others had problems.
About 600 metres into the race, Etienne van der Linde (IRCA BMW 328i) was punted sideways, off the track and out of contention. Meanwhile the Kaye-Eddie BMW 328i of Reghardt Roets suffered a punctured radiator, overheating and engine damage in short succession, putting him out for the day.
All of which left Gavin Kelsey (Kaye-Eddie BMW 328i) to take the third place ahead of Steve Wyndham (Ford Credit Fairmont). Van der Linde and Briggs rendered a carbon-copy performance in Race Two, again holding first and second places from flag to flag.
Gavin Kelsey finished third, ahead of a no-holds-barred battle which saw Wyndham spin the Ford and Etienne van der Linde get docked ten seconds for overly-robust driving. When all was said and done, Wyndham took the official fourth place with the younger Van der Linde fifth.
The opening Class B race saw Team Total Honda Ballade V-TEC drivers Curt Alchin, Clinton Weston and Gavin Cronje' finish first, second and third in orderly fashion, ahead of Mario da Sousa (AV Toyota Corolla RXi). The second race, held in teeming rain, produced more drama.
Seconds after the start, Cronje's Honda, Da Sousa's Toyota and Brian Martin's Havoline Toyota Corolla RSi sailed into the Eastern Cape flora after trying to claim the same piece of tarmac. They all rejoined.
Then Cronje, charging back through the field, spun his Honda and was solidly collected by the Champion Toyota Tazz of Craig Nicholson. Meanwhile Martin incurred the wrath of the organisers - and exclusion - for unsportsmanlike driving tactics.
All of which left Clinton Weston to win in his Team Total Honda, leading home Curt Alchin's similar car and the Toyota of Mario da Sousa.
Bert Grogor (German Workshop Opel Kadett 180i) won the first Class C race ahead of Ian Long (Fuel Saver Honda Ballade 180i) and Hector North (Honda Ballade 180i).
The second race went to Phillip Booysen (Barnett's Honda Ballade 180i) followed by Grogor and North.
Etienne du Toit (M&R Ford Fiesta RSi) clinched the opening Class D race from Fanie de Bruin (Makita Ford Fiesta RSi) and the Deltaparts Opel Corsa 160 GSi models of Stephen Taylor and Leeroy Poulter.
The second, wet race saw multiple fender-bashing between the four drivers, and Taylor's retirement with damaged front suspension. In the end De Bruin won from Poulter and Du Toit, with Dawie de Villiers fourth in his Daihatsu Sirion.
The worst disappointments belonged to former overall Midas Championship leader Cor Kraamwinkel, who needed to win both the Class E races to stay ahead in his Goldi Chicken Opel Kadett.
He failed - the first race win went to Angus Thompson (Garonga VW CitiGolf), ahead of Kraamwinkel and Nico de Waal (Opel Corsa 140i). Worse followed.
Fighting for the second race lead in the wet, Kraamwinkel's Opel slid off the track through the 160 km/h Potters Pass Sweep, launched over an earth bank and rolled heavily. That left Roby Beninca (Motorhouse VW CitiGolf) to win, followed by Hans Moore (Toyota Tazz) and Jody Powell (STER Opel Corsa 140iS).
Angus Thompson won the prestigious CAR Rookie of the Day title, with Nico de Waal awarded Car Magazine's Trier of the Day accolade.