Orr Shows the Way
Team South Africa A1GP rookie driver Wesleigh Orr (Rhema 2), dominated Saturday's Pro Tour National Championship Formula Vee race, at Kyalami but was penalized for a jump start, in the second heat, dropping him down the order in the final results. Friday afternoon's qualifying session, saw Orr qualify second, behind Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema 2), on a circuit he had never driven on, until Friday morning. In the first race, Hills was soon in trouble and began dropping back with a clutch problem, as well a problem with his rear suspension.
Having started eleventh, after experiencing problems in qualifying, Dennis Johns (Geyser Attorneys Goldco Midas Rhema 2) was up to sixth place, by the end of the first lap and continued to make rapid progress, moving into second place, by the end of lap four. Anthony Taylor (Rigidek Rhema 2) had gone in the opposite direction, on the opening lap, dropping from sixth to ninth but then set about carving his way back up the field, to what would eventually be a second place finish. In the meantime Azeem Boomberg (Rhema 1) had retired, with a lose battery terminal and Jaco Schriks (Laser Sprint Rhema 2), with a broken rose joint, on the rear suspension. A little later in the race, Gert Van Den Berg (Rhema 1) became the only other retirement, when he got out of shape at Turn 5, went off the road and got bogged down, in the gravel trap.
With a lap to go, Taylor was on Johns' tail, passing him half way through the lap but Johns slotted in behind Taylor and was right on his tail, into the Chicane for the last time. The next moment the front of Johns car reared into the air, as the two cars collided. Taylor's progress was unaffected, by the incident but Johns lost a couple of places before he could get going again. In the meantime, Orr had continued to maintain a healthy lead and went on to win the race, by just over six seconds, from Taylor, Alan Holm (Laser Sprint Rhema 2), Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), Johns, Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Rhema 1), Hills, Trevor Bland (Office Direct Rhema 2), Jannie Geyser Snr (Geyser Attorneys Vision), Gareth Jackson (Laser Sprint Rhema 2), Andre Van Der Merwe (Atlas Dry Cleaners Lantis) and Jannie Geyser Jnr (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2).
At the start of the second heat, basing his data on the first start, Orr tried to anticipate the starter's actions but this time, the red light stayed on a little bit longer. He had moved before the light went out and everyone, including himself, knew he was going to be penalized. For the rest of the race, he would run as hard as he could, in an effort to minimize the damage, while Taylor concentrated more on staying ahead of those behind him. Boomberg's luck, once again deserted him and he retired without completing a lap, when a rose joint on the gear linkage broke.
Geyser Snr had a couple of incidents, dropping from eighth, at the end of the first lap, to fourteenth and by the following lap, he was second last. He then set about climbing back up the field, to score the last championship point on offer. In the meantime, Andre Van Tonder (Tasman) had retired with an electrical problem and soon after that, Denver Pienaar (Vision) retired as well, when his motor lost compression. His father, Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 1) was also having a torrid time, losing four places, just after half distance. Then, at the final corner of the race, he was hit by Bradley Martin (Rhema 2) and was forced to retire, with a broken rear suspension, within sight of the finish line. The only other retirement, had come just on half distance, when Van Der Merwe pulled off at Turn 5, with a broken throttle cable.
Out front, Orr continued at the head of the field but in spite of setting the fastest lap of the race and crossing the line a good nine seconds ahead of Taylor, the thirty second penalty, for the jumped start, saw him pushed back to seventh place. That gave the victory to Taylor who finished ahead of Holm, Johns, Hills, Grobler, Schriks, Orr, Bland, James Leach (Auto Fair Rhema 1), Geyser Jnr, Van Den Berg and Geyser Snr.
Holm's results, secured him his third successive National title. The first time this has been achieved, in the forty two year history of the category. in this country. For the young development drivers, it was however a weekend they would rather forget. In the second heat Essa had crossed the line, for what would have been a sixth place finish, only to discover that he had been excluded from the results, for passing under a yellow flag. Boomberg's father, stating that it had been one of their worst race days ever, while Courtney Steenveld (NLDTF Rhema 1) did not even get to start a race, after rolling and writing off his car, in the morning warm up and only returned, from the hospital, after the first heat had been run.