Hills and Essa Share The Points At Kyalami
The penultimate round, of the 2010 Execuline South African National Formula Vee Championship, saw very little change at the top of the log. It is however, becoming increasingly difficult, for Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Reflex Solutions Rhema 2) to claim the title. It would now require a mechanical failure, or some other problem, for Peter Hills (Renexcon Rhema 2) to surrender the title to Essa, at the final National event if the year. Each of them picked up a win and a second place, at Kyalami and Essa only closed the gap, by a single point, for fastest lap in the second heat.
Both cars bore the scars of battle, with Hills finishing the first heat, with Essa's tire marks on the side of his nose cone, while in the second heat Essa lost his nose cone completely, after contact with Hills. Throughout both races, they where never more that a couple of meters apart and although it was Hills who completed most laps, at the head of the field, Essa led across the line twice in heat one (laps six and seven) but had shown his hand too early and in the crucial eighth and final lap of the heat, Hills swept past again, to take the victory. In the second heat, Essa left his move to the last lap and the only time he lead Hills across the line, was to take the Checkered Flag and keep his title hopes within reach, provided Hills has a bad day at the final event of the year.
There was plenty of action all the way down the field, as well. In the first lap, of heat one, Keegan Campos (Campos Transport GP Energy Drink Rhema 2) stuck his nose down the inside of Nicholas Tennant (Tennant Life Benefits Rhema 2), at Nashua. As Tennant turned into the bend, Campos' right front wheel slammed into Tennant's left rear and Tennant spun in the middle of the pack, sending everyone scattering in all directions. Paul Venter (Nashua Mobile Rhema 1) lost his nose cone, through the gravel trap and Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 2) spun, rejoining at the back of the field. In trouble right from the start, was Mariaan Brits (Nedbank Women in Motorsport Rhema 1) who had lost the use of fourth gear but soldiered on, to still finish the race, on the lead lap. Formula Vee runs a four speed Beetle gearbox and on the faster sections, she was limited to what the car would do, at seven thousand revs, in third gear!
Apart from the lead battle, Johan Gouws Indwe Risk Management Menlyn Motor Service E-Car Mantis) and Symm Grobler Auto Mecca Rhema 2) engaged in a race lone duel, both struggling with minor mechanical problems which saw them losing ground to Campos, in third place. Greg Wilson (Reflex Solutions Rhema 2), fought a torrid battle with Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT SAP Rhema 2) and Venter, as Tennant and Pienaar carved their way up through the field, with Tennant catching the Blignaut, Wilson Venter bunch, while Pienaar ended up battling it out, with Alan Eustice (Execuline Rhema 2). Shaun Van Der Linde (Len Schoen Estates Rhema 1) had tagged onto the back of Henk Swanepoel (Renexcon Rhema 2), while behind them, Hugo Walendorf BJ Pro Welding Lantis) was battling to hold off the attentions of Mile Stewart (Direction Group Rhema 2), until Stewart locked up on the last lap and stalled the motor.
In the end, it was Hills who took the first heat victory, by 0.503 of a second, from Essa who was followed across the line, by Campos, Gouws, Grobler, Blignaut, Wilson, Tennant, Venter, Pienaar, Eustice and Swanepoel, after Jannie Geyser (Vision) fell away, during the final lap, when something broke on his front suspension, making his car almost un-drivable.
The second heat produced more of the same, at the head of the field. Further back Eustice spun early on and spent the rest of the race playing catch up, while Hano Van Der Spy (Vision) had also lost a lot of time, due to a first lap incident. Then Tennant slammed into the back of Blignaut, going up the hill to Wesbank, after he misjudged his closing speed and before the lap was completed, Venter got out of shape under braking for Turn Fourteen and tangled with Tennant as well. Gouws and Grobler resumed their first heat battle, this time at a faster pace, while a little further back, a number of race long battles developed. One of these involved Blignaut, Pienaar and Venter, while behind them, Wilson and Swanepoel where involved in their own private duel. Wallendorf, Van Der Linde and Stewart where also all over one another, until Stewart spun, exiting the old Clubhouse Bend. By then Gouws had been pulled off, due to a small oil leak, hile Campos had also retired, around about the same time, due to a seized motor.
With less than a lap to go, Essa and Hills where side by side into Clubhouse. Essa's had already lost his nose cone, on the back of Hills' car but at the line, it was Essa who took the victory from Hills, by 0.368 of a second. This time, Grobler who took third place, ahead of Tennant and they where followed home by, Blignaut, Venter, Wilson, Swanepoel, Pienaar, Eustice, Wallendorf and Van Der Linde. Brits again ran the whole race, without the use of fourth gear, to finish between Andri Overbeek (Rhema 1) and Van Der Spy, in fifteenth place.