Veringa takes 2003 South African Formula Vee Title
The final round of the 2003 South African Formula Vee Challenge, was one of mixed emotions, for new Champion David Veringa Sabat Rhema. His fourth place finish, in the first heat, was enough to secure the National Title but he was then eliminated from the second heat, while trying to secure the MSA Northern Regions Championship as well. That title went to Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), while Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema), tied up the 2003 Formula Vee Association Competition during the first heat, when his closest rival Kevin Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting), retired with mechanical failure.
The first heat saw plenty of good close racing, from the twenty seven car field and produced yet another victory, for Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2). Starting from Pole Position, he was never headed, although Grobler did come out of the slipstream and get alongside under braking, as they reached the end of the Main Straight, for the second time. Behind them, Veringa, Alan Holm (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema) and Anthony Taylor (Vacuform Rhema 2) fought a race long battle, that would determine the destiny of the 2003 National Title. Wayne Bennett (Lafarge Readymix Rhema 2) tried his best to keep in touch but braking late, on the dirty side of the track, saw him sail straight on down the escape road, at the end of the Main Straight.
Further back, there were plenty of other good, close battles as well. Kevin Cartmell and Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema) tried to give Pienaar a run for his money but Cartmell retired before half distance and then Phetla fell back, when he lost the use of second gear. Claude Cartmell, Tony Beecher, Doug MacDonald, Nico Blignaut Jnr, Jaco Greyling, James Leach and Jannie Geyser ,were all locked in battle at various stages of the race but Greying broke his gear selector and Beecher spun, with a lap to go and then could not get the car restarted. Other retirements came from newcomer David McKenzie and development driver Kearn Francis, who was to be plagued with overheating problems all day.
There were however no such problems for Johns and he went on to win the heat, from Grobler, Holm, Veringa, Taylor, Jody Robertson (PS23 Lubrioil Rhema), Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema), Jaco Schriks (Johannesburg Bright Steels Sting), Bennett, Pienaar, Nico Blignaut Jnr (ISP Auto Body Rhema) and Claude Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting).
The results of the second heat, were thrown into confusion by a red flag, eight laps into the race. Jannie Wiid had spun a couple of laps earlier and was beached at the side of the circuit, so a decision was made to stop the race and move his car out of the way. At the time Johns was leading from Grobler, Holm, Veringa and Taylor. The positions were however determined at the end of lap seven, putting Veringa behind Taylor again. Francis had already retired, as had MacDonald, while Robertson and Blignaut were due not to make the restart either, due to mechanical problems.
Soon after the restart all hell broke loose and the red flag was out again, before the field had completed a lap. The damaged cars of Veringa and Hills were left stranded at Turn Three, Beecher and Manie Geldenhuis were in the tyre barriers at Turn Six and Holm was nursing his damaged car, back to the pits. Only Holm would make the second restart, having been able to repair some of the damage, during the time it took to clear up the mess and get the other cars out of the way.
What was left, of a by now very depleted field, managed to complete the final five laps without major incident, although Geyser gave himself a big scare, with a wild spin on the oval but was able to resume, once everyone else had gone by.
At the time of writing there is still some confusion regarding the actual result. There is no doubt that Johns won the heat, from Grobler, Taylor, Holm and Schriks. Claude Cartmell could be placed either ahead of, or behind Bennett, although the results presently show him one lap down, in fourteenth place. They should be followed by Phetla, Greyling, Pienaar, Vaughn Hills, Geyser, John Learm and Dayview Mogane. Vaughn Hills is however ineligible to score points, as he was driving the Vision fitted with the 1400cc test motor and Pienaar had retired his Rhema before the restart, completing the final five laps of the race in his Vision, so is also ineligible to score points for the heat. The outcome of all the second heat carnage and confusion, is that Greyling, Learm and development driver Mogane, have all more than likely picked up their first National points!