South African FV East London race notes

One step closer for Veringa Formula Vee Championship leader David Veringa (Sabat Rhema), moved one step closer to taking the 2003 South African Formula Vee title, when he picked up a third and fifth place finish, during the penultimate race...

One step closer for Veringa

Formula Vee Championship leader David Veringa (Sabat Rhema), moved one step closer to taking the 2003 South African Formula Vee title, when he picked up a third and fifth place finish, during the penultimate race of the season, at the East London Grand Prix Circuit. His closest challenger, Alan Holm (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema) again ran into mechanical problems and had to settle for eleventh place, in heat one. An engine change between heats, saw Holm come back and claim third place, in the second heat but it was not enough to prevent Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), from demoting him to third place on the championship log. Grobler put in another strong performance, to finish both heats in second place, behind the flying Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2).

The first heat, produced yet another lights to flag win for Johns, leaving Holm, Grobler, Anthony Taylor (Vacuform Rhema 2), Veringa and Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema), to fight it out for second place. This was a no holds barred scrap and on a couple of occasions Taylor and Veringa were side by side through the notorious Potter's Pass bend, a flat out (for the very brave) right hander, on the long East London main straight.

After a gearbox problem in qualifying, had relegated him to a lowly grid position, Jody Robertson (PS23 Lubrioil Rhema) found his car way down on straight line speed, in the race and could not make any impression on those ahead of him and had his hands full, trying to keep Cape Town's Luc Lucchesi (Rhema) and Jaco Schriks (Johannesburg Bright Steels Sting) at bay. Then Holm's Championship hopes took another turn for the worse, when he ran the bearings of his motor, relegating him to eleventh place. There were however no such problems for Johns and he held on to with the race, from Grobler, Veringa, Taylor, Hills, Robertson, Lucchesi, Schriks, Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema), Doug MacDonald (Rhema) and Holm.

Between heats, Robertson traced his problem to ignition timing and with Hills starting at the back of the grid, after failing to record a second fastest lap in qualifying, the two of them were soon engaged in their own duel. Using the slipstream they were all over one another but it was too good to last. Approaching Cocabana Corner at high speed, Robertson tried to defend the inside line but realizing he was going too fast to make the bend, from that position, he moved back to take his normal line. Hills saw the gap open up on the inside and went for it but was going too fast to hold the inside line through the bend and as Robertson turned in, Hills went into the side of him. There was a clash of wheels and Robertson was launched into the air, landing heavily enough to break the hub and damage the trailing arms. With his car marooned in a dangerous position, the Safety Car was deployed and the field was bunched up again, behind the Safety Car.

When they were released, there was only a lap to go and it was anyone's race, as they embarked on a furious one lap multicar battle. Somehow they made it down the straight and through Cocabana unscathed, coming out of the bend, as many cars wide, as the circuit could handle. It was however Johns, who held on to take his second victory of the day, from Grobler, Holm, Taylor, Veringa, Lee Thompson (Rhema), Hills, Schriks, Lucchesi and Phetla, as the first seven cars crossed the line, in just on two seconds.

Only Grobler and Holm, can still wrest the title from Veringa, who goes to the last event of the year, with a comfortable lead but so did Schumacher and it almost went wrong for him. As they say, anything can happen in motor racing and it is going to be a nervous couple of weeks for Veringa, until he can get back on the track and put it beyond doubt.

-safv-

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