Victories for Veringa and Grobler, at emotional Zwartkops event.
Round four of the National Formula Vee Series, run at the Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria, was dedicated to the memory of Warren Jones and his son Jarryd. A regular Formula Vee racer in South Africa, Warren and Jarryd, along with one of Warren's employees, were killed at an unguarded level crossing, when the vehicle in which they were travelling was hit by a train, a few weeks ago.
At Zwartkops, all the cars carried stickers in memory of Warren and Jarryd and before the first heat, the drivers did a slow lap of honour, without helmets, before stopping on the grid for a minute of silence, surrounded by their crews. They then donned their helmets and set out on a warm up lap, before returning to the grid for the start of the race.
Having qualified on pole position, for the first time in his Formula Vee racing career, seventeen year old Jody Robertson (Rhema), was in fact starting from position three on the grid, as the front row was left vacant, as a tribute to Warren and Jarryd. At the five second board, Jody checked his gauges and in doing so, he missed the start lights, which were already off by the time he looked up. As the field surged past, he realized his mistake and was well down the field, as David Veringa (Sadat Rhema) led the field up the back straight for the first time. By the end of the lap, Anthony Taylor (Rhema) had taken the lead but Veringa fought back to regain the lead and head up a four car lead bunch, with another seven car battle raging not far behind. In the meantime newcomer Jannie Wiid had gone off the road and with his car stuck in a dangerous position, the Safety Car was deployed for a couple of laps. When it came in, Veringa got the jump on Taylor and in an effort to get back in touch, Taylor spun as he entered the pit straight, to complete the lap. With the rest of the field right on his tail, there were some anxious moments but the only casualty was Alan Holm (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema) who also spun and along with Taylor, lost a lot of ground in the process.
Out front, there were no such problems for Veringa and he held on to win the heat, from Peter Hills (Peter Hills Auto Clinic Sting), Ernest Viljoen (Auto Atlantic/Protea Hotels Rhema), Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), Trevor Smith (Lantis), Jaco Schriks (Johannesburg Bright Steels Sting), Wayne Bennett (Lafarge Readymix Rhema 2), Bradley Martin (Rhema 2), Robertson, Holm, Taylor and Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT - SAP Omega)
Robertson did not get away quite as badly, in the second heat but still managed to lose some ground. Going into the tight Turn Two, for the second time, he tried to retake Smith but as Smith turned in, the two cars collided. Robertson was unable to get his car back to the pits and retired on the back straight, while Smith returned to the pits, with a flat tire.
Out front, Veringa, Holm and Grobler were involved in a battle for the lead. Once he had taken the lead, Holm looked like he had things under control but a lapse of concentration, saw him spin at the top of the hill. This handed the lead back to Veringa but his motor was starting to overheat and when Grobler slipped past, there was not much he could do about it. He tried to hang on and come back at Grobler during the final lap of the race but Grobler had it in the bag and went on to win the heat from Veringa, Hills, Holm, Taylor, Bennett, Schriks, Viljoen, Jannie Geyser (Vision), Martin, Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Vision) and Kevin Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting).
<pre> National points standing, after Zwartkops 26 April 2003: 1 David Veringa 101 6 Jody Robertson 45 2 Alan Holm 89 7 Wayne Bennett 36 3 Peter Hills 78 8 Wilfred Brand 26 4 Symm Grobler 69 9 Jaco Schriks 25 5 Ernest Viljoen 66 10 Anthony Taylor 21