A Double Win for Johns Ex Local boy Dennis Johns (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2) made the best of his superior knowledge, of local conditions, to secure a double win in the Formula Vee Pro Tour South African...
A Double Win for Johns
Ex Local boy Dennis Johns (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2) made the best of his superior knowledge, of local conditions, to secure a double win in the Formula Vee Pro Tour South African National Championship race, at Welkom's Phakisa Freeway. Starting from pole position, Johns had a relatively easy win in the first heat, after Jaco Schriks (Laser Sprint Rhema 2) had held everyone else up, when he spun out of second position, at the Heel of the Boot, during the opening lap of the race. The second heat was a much closer affair, as Johns and Alan Holm (Laser Sprint Rhema 2) swapped places, in a race long battle for the lead. . A number of top competitors where strangely off the pace in qualifying, with Schriks starting the first heat, from fourth place on the grid, log leader Holm fifth, Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2) sixth and Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema 2), way back in seventh place on the grid. Schriks made the best start and was right on John's tail, going into the Heel of the Boot, for the first time but he spun and as every one else took avoiding action, Johns opened up an immediate advantage, of somewhere in the region of four to five seconds, while Schriks rejoined at the back of the field. Having started from second place on the grid, sixteen year old ex Karter Dean Lester (Rigidek Rhema 2), spun out of third place, during the second lap of the race and rejoined in seventh place.
As the race settled down, Johns was maintaining his sizeable lead, with Holm now in second place and being shadowed all the way by Trevor Bland (Rhema 2), while behind them, Hills and sixteen year old development driver Courtney Steenveld (NLDTF Indy Oils Rhema 1) were locked in a furious race long duel, for fourth place. A little further back Gareth Jackson (Laser Sprint Rhema 2), James Leach (Autofair Rhema 1), Nico Blignaught (Gilus IT SAP Rhema 1) and Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 1) where involved in a good close battle, as Schriks carved his way back up through the field, setting the fastest lap of the race, in the process. There was however no catching the flying Johns and he went on to win the heat, by over four seconds, from Holm, Bland, Hills, Steenveld, Schriks, Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Rhema 1), Grobler, Lester, Jackson, Leach and Pienaar, while relative newcomer Charles Roets (Sting), finished unlapped, for the first time in his relatively short Formula Vee career.
Starting the second heat, from the front row of the grid, Johns and Holm proceeded to engage in a race long battle for the lead, as they swapped the first two positions between themselves. By the second lap, young Steenveld was up to third place but the exuberance of youth got the better of him and the following lap, he spun, rejoining in ninth place. This left Hills to take up the chase, in third place but as the race progressed, he was hunted down and eventually passed by Schriks. In the meantime, Lester was picking people off one by one, as he moved from ninth to fifth, by half distance. Another man on the move, was Doug MacDonald (Fantastic Racing Rhema 1), as he passed Pienaar and Gert Van Den Berg (Rhema 1) early on, before setting off after Leach, Blignaut and Jackson. He then worked his way past Jackson and Blignaut and was lining up Leach, when Leach spun, rejoining back in fourteenth place.
As the battle for the lead raged on, another battle developed a little further back, as Bland, Grobler and Lester got together and they were later joined by Steenveld, as well. In the end, it was however Johns who had his nose ahead of Holm at the flag, to win the race by 0.112 of a second, handing Holm his first double defeat of the year and the third, in a row. Third place went to Schriks, and he was followed home, by Hills, Lester, Bland, Grobler, Steenveld, Essa, MacDonald, Jackson and Leach. Making a promising National Formula Vee debut and finishing both races on the lead lap, was Jannie Geyser Jnr (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2), deputizing for his father and Association Chairman Jannie Geyser who had snapped a tendon in his ankle, climbing onto a horse, a couple of weeks before the Phakisa event. The overall victory went to Johns, ahead of Holm, while Bland picked up the third place trophy for the day.