The sixth round of the 2004 South African National Formula Vee Championship, produced good close racing at the Wesbank Raceway, with Alan Holm (JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2) taking victory in heat one, while Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema) triumphed...
The sixth round of the 2004 South African National Formula Vee Championship, produced good close racing at the Wesbank Raceway, with Alan Holm (JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2) taking victory in heat one, while Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema) triumphed in heat two. The current National Championship log leader Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), had to be content with a third and a second place finish, while the young Karters sixteen year old Jonathan Vilaca and fifteen year old Kyle Bennett, produced their best National results to date.
The first heat saw a good, close six car battle for the lead, in the early stages of the race, before it split up into three separate two car duels. The bunch consisted of Holm, Grobler, Hills, Jaco Schriks (JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2), Lee Thompson, driving Andre Van Der Merwe's ACC Air Conditioning Rhema 2 and Vilaca. Not far behind, Bennett was battling to find a way past the Rhema of Cape Town's Doug MacDonald, while other battles raged on further down the field as well. Even newcomer Ashley Spada (Omega) was involved in a three car battle at the back of the field, with the Rhema of Kearn Francis and JP Nortje (Sting). Nortje then lost touch, leaving Spada and Francis to continue the battle on their own, with Spada eventually getting the better of Francis as well.
Out front, Holm and Hills where battling it out for the lead, while Grobler was hooked up behind Schriks. Vilaca then lost his sparring partner, when Thompson retired just on half distance, with a broken gear linkage. Bennett had however disposed of MacDonald and was in hot pursuit, closing right in on Vilaca, in the closing stages of the race. Schriks then picked up a problem and spun on the oval. This released Grobler who rapidly closed in on Holm and Hills again.
It was however Holm who held on to win the race, by less than half a second, from Hills, with Grobler a further 0,087 of a second behind, in third place. They where followed home, by Vilaca, Bennett, Schriks and MacDonald, in close succession, Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema), Jannie Geyser (Vision) and another Karter, making his Formula Vee racing debut, sixteen year old Trevor Bland (Rhema) who got the better of Kevin Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting) after a race long battle, while Bobby Nel (Lantis), picked up the final National point, in twelfth place.
In heat two, it was Hills who took the lead early on and although Holm and Grobler kept close company for a while, a braking problem on Holm's car saw them lose touch and by the time that Grobler had found his way past Holm, the flying Hills was already out of reach.
Francis had made an early pit stop but returned to complete the race and the only retirement of the second heat, was Bland who completed three laps before he lost the use of third gear and pulled in to retire. Once again there were battles raging all the way down the field and this time Kevin Cartmell's sparing partner was Geyser, until he picked up a problem during the closing lap of the race. Cartmell slowed dramatically, to finish behind Nel and he almost lost the final National point to his brother Claude, in the other Rand Brake Sting, as well.
Young Bennett produced another aggressive drive, which made it hard to believe that he was only competing in his third Formula Vee event! A small problem or an incident may have slowed Vilaca but in the end he lost out to both Bennett and MacDonald. Dean Nel had made some setup changes to the MacDonald car, between heats, which improved the handling and if MacDonald continues with his current progress, he could soon be challenging the front runners as well.
Although he had opened up a good lead, Hills never slacked off for a second and as if to prove his point, he broke Dennis Johns' lap record, during the final lap of the race, setting the new mark at 1 min 15,650 seconds and went on to record his most convincing dry weather win, for a long time. Grobler, Holm, Schriks, Bennett, MacDonald, Vilaca, Thompson, Phetla, Geyser, Nel and Kevin Cartmell, followed him across the line.