Grobler is Champion
The penultimate round of the 2004 South African National Formula Vee Championship, saw veteran Formula Vee racer and ex Moto Cross rider Symm Grobler, secure his first National Championship title. After taking pole position, for the East London event, Grobler concentrated on staying out of trouble and drove his Auto Mecca Rhema 2, to a third place finish in the first heat and then went on to finish the second heat, in second place, securing himself an unassailable points lead. The first heat victory, went to Alan Holm (JBS Laser Sprint Rhema 2), while Jaco Schriks (JBS Laser Sprint Rhema 2), secured his first Formula Vee victory and became the seventh winner of the year, when he took the victory in heat two.
The first heat produced a tremendous battle for the lead, as Holm and teammate Schriks, swapped places on a regular basis. Grobler was back in fourth place, by the end of the first lap and had to fight his way past Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2). Johns then fell into the clutches of Lee Thompson (08Xconnect Rhema) and the two of them engaged in their own private duel, as Grobler slipped away and set off after the leaders.
Out early on, was teenage ex Karter Trevor Bland (Rhema), who went off into the Rifle Range. Then Mannie Geldenhuis spun his Lagus, at Potters and retired from the race as well. The following lap, Potters was the scene of more action. Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema) and Bradley Martin (Rhema 2) where locked in battle. Side by side into Potters, the two cars touched wheels at high speed, on the run down to Rifle Bend, left the circuit and hit the embankment. It was a big accident, with both cars being too badly damaged to take any further part in the day's proceedings. Fortunately both drivers escaped unharmed. Jonathan Vilaca, then became the final retirement of the race, when the engine of his car mysteriously cut out and he rolled to a stop out on the circuit.
Into the final lap, Schriks held the lead but Holm was having none of that and slipped through, to take the narrowest of victories, from Schriks and Grobler, the three of them crossing the line within 0,324 of a second. Not far behind, Johns secured fourth place, 0,103 of a second ahead of Thompson and they where followed home, by Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema), Alan Kernick (Tasman), Gareth Jackson (JBS Laser Sprint Sting) and Hugo Wallendorf (Vision).
A depleted field, lined up for the second heat but this time Schriks was determined, not to surrender the lead. Initially, it was Grobler leading the chase, with Holm snapping at his heels. Holm then slipped through, into second place but Grobler hung on, setting himself up to challenge for the position again. Not far behind, ex National Title holders Thomson and Johns, where once again locked in battle, as where Kernick and Bland, a little further back.
Going into the final lap of the race, Holm still held the advantage, over Grobler. Behind them, Johns led Thompson through, in fourth place, with Bland heading Kernick, in their battle for seventh. The final positions where however, by no means cut and dried. Schriks took his first victory but it would not be a JBS Laser Sprint one two, as Grobler came through, to claim second place and the title 0,265 of a second ahead of Holm. Next up, was Thompson 0,089 of a second, ahead of Johns, followed by Hills. Kernick was next, beating Bland to the line by 0,224 of a second and they where followed home, by Jackson, Wallendorf and Geldenhuis, with Vilaca having been forced to retire again, when his motor once again cut out, during the first lap of the race, ending a frustrating day for the young ex Karter. The problem, has since been traced to a faulty distributor.