Kyalami Produces Yet Another Epic Multi Car Battle The battle for the 2009 South African National Formula Vee Championship intensifies race by race and a multi car battle at the head of the field, seems to have become a permanent feature...
Kyalami Produces Yet Another Epic Multi Car Battle
The battle for the 2009 South African National Formula Vee Championship intensifies race by race and a multi car battle at the head of the field, seems to have become a permanent feature of the 2009 season. Saturday's race at Kyalami, was no exception.
Jaco Schriks (Lasersprint Rhema 2) started the first heat, from pole position, with a mere 0.760 of a second, separating the first seven cars on the grid. Starting from fourth on the grid, development driver Courtney Steenveld (NLDTF Rhema 2) was determined to get to the front as soon as possible and try and break free of the pack. He was however trying too hard and his plan came to grief halfway round the first lap. Trying to out brake Schriks into Clubhouse, Steenveld locked up and went straight on, into the wall.
This gave the advantage to Schriks, as the rest of the field took avoiding action and he had opened up a very small gap, by the end of the first lap but by the following lap, it was fifteen year old Chad Van Beurden (Rhema 2) who had taken the lead and he was never headed again, for the rest of the race. Not far behind Van Beurden, a mighty battle raged, involving Schriks, Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Rhema 1), Trevor Bland (Rhema 2), Alan Holm (Lasersprint Rhema 2) and Peter Hills (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 2), with Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2) and Jannie Geyser Jnr (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2) hanging onto the bunch for a while, as well, Then just after half distance, Schriks spun at the Bowl, losing a number of places in the process.
A bit further back, another good close battle raged, involving Alan Eiustice (Execuline Rhema 2), Nicholas Tennant (Stonevest/TKAS Race Solutions T096), Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 2) and Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT SAP Rhema 2), while behind them, Henk Swanepoel (Rent a Renovator Rhema 1) had passed Hugo Wallendorf (BJ Pro Welding Lantis) who was struggling with the handling of his car. Mile Stewart (Rhema 1) then started closing in on Wallendorf but with a couple of laps to go, Stewart got out of shape, pushing a bit too hard through Nashua Bend. Wallendorf had also spun ahead of him and in his efforts to get his own car back under control and avoid Wallendorf, Stewart hit the wall, retiring on the spot. While Wallendorf gathered it all together and resumed, at the back of the field.
Driving like a seasoned veteran, Van Beurden controlled the race from the front and went on to score, the second victory of his National Formula Vee career, by 3.326 of a second, from Holm, Bland, Hills, Essa, Schriks, Grobler, Geyser Jnr, Gareth Jackson (Lasersprint Rhema 2) and Paul Venter (Nashua Mobile Lazer), who had been keeping reasonably close company as well, while Pienaar, Eustice and Tennant, picked up the remaining National Points on offer,
By the end of the day, Van Beurden would record the first overall win of his short Formula Vee career but he would be forced to work extremely hard for it. A bad start, saw Van Beurden drop to sixth or seventh place but time and again, he would come down the inside into Clubhouse, picking them off one by one, as he carved his way back to the head of the field. This time he would however, not succeed in breaking away from the pursuing pack. Initially, it was a seven car lead battle but eventually, Grobler dropped off the back of the pack and lost touch.
Eustice, Tennant and Pienaar had resumed where they left off and where once again locked in battle, until Tennant lost it a few laps from the end, rejoining right at the back of the field. Also in trouble, was Wallendorf who went off at Goodyear Corner, across the grass and the gravel trap and although he regained the circuit, the rear suspension had collapsed and he was forced to retire from the race.
In the meantime, Steenveld had been carving his way up through the field and although he passed Grobler, shortly after half distance, he was unable to catch the lead battle, before the end of the race. Ahead of Steenveld, that battle had raged on unabated. With the six cars still locked together, they would fight it out, to the bitter end and all six of them, would cross the finish line within 2,401 of a second! Once again, it was Van Beurden who secured the victory and he was followed across the line, by Essa, Holm, Hills, Schriks and Bland. Next up was Steenveld who was followed home, by Grobler, Geyser Jnr, Jackson, Pienaar and Eustice. Fastest lap and the new Kyalami Formula Vee Lap Record, went to Bland at 1min 55.158 seconds.
Who will take, the 2009 National Championship, is still anyone's guess. The first round saw Bland head the log, at the end of the day but after the second round, it was Steenveld who had taken the lead. East London then saw Holm and Steenveld come away from the coastal city, as joint leaders, with Schriks a mere one point behind. Then the fourth round, at Zwartkops, saw Schriks mote to the top of the log but his spin at Kyalami has cost him dearly and going to the Port Elizabeth round of the Championship, at the beginning of August, it is triple National Champion Holm, who is back in front but watch out for Van Beurden! He is on a roll and could still become the first driver, since Ettiene Van Der Linde in 1994, to win the Formula Vee National Championship, in his first season and at the same time eclipse Van Der Linde, as the youngest Champion, as well.