Midvaal Produces Close, Action Packed Formula Vee Thriller
The Midvaal round, of the 2009 South African National Formula Vee Championship, produced two thrilling battles at the head of the field. In fact, the action was not restricted to the head of the field, with duels and other multi car battles, raging all the way down the field as well, particularly in the second heat. For fifteen year old Chad Van Beurden (Rhema 2) the weekend however began, in the worst possible fashion. On his out lap, for the very first practice session, the throttle jammed open, approaching the bend leading onto the Main Straight and he went straight off into the tyres and flipped the car, before it landed back on his wheels. Van Beurden was shaken but otherwise unharmed but the car was badly damaged. Van Beurden would however still race, after a deal was struck, for him to drive the Peter Hills (Prolantic Rhema 2), in the race.
Having qualified on Pole Position, again, development driver Courtney Steenveld (NLDTF Rhema 2) led the field away from the line, with Trevor Bland (Rhema 2), Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), Alan Holm (Lasersprint Rhema 2), Jaco Schriks (Lasersprint Rhema 2) and Van Beurden snapping at his heels. Having qualifying third, Dennis Johns (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2) had lost ten places, by Turn Three but would eventually carve his way back through the field, for a top three finish. Steenveld, Bland and Holm, each had a chance to lead and the three of them eventually opened a small gap, over the rest of the bunch, while Van Beurden ran wide at one point and lost touch with Grobler and Schriks, as well, splitting up what had initially been a six car battle, at the head of the field. Alan Eustice (Execuline Rhema 2), was having a good tussle, with Paul Venter (Laser) but then lost time, with a spin, toward the end of the race, while Jannie Geyser Snr (Geyser Attorneys Vision) retired, with a broken throttle cable. Earlier in the race, Andrei Overbeek (Compressor Services Industrial Omega) had retired, due to a loose airbox, while Nicholas Tennant (Custom Hobbies Tasman) had started the race very late, after picking up a problem on the warm up lap and Henk Swanepoel (Rhema 1), was struggling along with a ill handling car.
The battle for the lead however, continued unabated. At one point, Steenveld and Holm had touched, while a more solid contact with Steenveld, saw Bland spin, losing a number of places in the process. He was however, able to regain some of them, before the end of the race, as Holm took the flag, ahead of Steenveld, Johns, Grobler, Bland, Schriks, Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Rhema 1), Van Beurden, Jason Campos (Carrera Sunglasses Campos Transport Rhema 2), Jannie Geyser Jnr (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2), Gareth Jackson (Lasersprint Rhema 2) and Venter.
The second heat, saw contact between Steenveld and Johns, at the first corner, with Johns spinning off and rejoining right at the back of the field. The initial six car battle, at the head of the field, involved Steenveld, Holm, Grobler, Bland, Schriks and Van Beurden but split up, with Holm and Steenveld, fighting a torrid battle for the lead, while Van Beurden later broke away from the pursuing pack, and moved up to join them as well. Hugo Wallendorf (IT Dents Lantis) had lost his nose cone early on in the race, which hit Tennent in the face, disorientating him for a moment and he promptly spun, at the next bend, rejoining, to carve his way up through the tail enders, where Overbeek and Swanepoel where keeping close company, for a while. Also keeping close company, higher up the field, where Jackson and Geyser Snr. While Venter, Campos and Eustice, where also having a good close tussle, not far behind them. Then Eustice spun and Campos was able to get away from Venter, catching Jackson and Geyser Snr, to join the battle.
An early retirement from the race, had come from Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT SAP Rhema 2), while in the closing stages of the race, Overbeek would pull in to retire as well, having lost the airbox again but still having completed sufficient laps, to be classified as a finisher. The progress of Johns, up through the field, had been hampered, by another bump and it was only in the closing stages of the race, that he was able to catch, the Gesyer Snr, Jackson, Campos battle and work his way through, the bunch. In the meantime, Essa had joined the battle behind the lead bunch but then Bland had a big scare, when the accelerator pedal jammed in the fully open position, on the main straight. He was however, able to get his foot under the pedal and release it, He then broke away from the second bunch, closing right up on the three ahead of him and in so doing set up a furious four car dash to the line, which saw the four of them across the finish line, within just under six tenths of a second!
The race victory, however, went to Steenveld 0,120 of a second, ahead of Holm and they where followed across the line, by Van Beurden, Bland, Schriks, Essa, Grobler, Geyser Jnr, Johns, Geyser Snr, Campos and Jackson.