TOUGH DAY FOR CHAMPIONS AT KYALAMI Johannesburg, Saturday -- Reigning champions had a tough time of it when the South African national circuit racing season got underway at a sweltering Kyalami today. Wins were hard to come by for many of the...
TOUGH DAY FOR CHAMPIONS AT KYALAMI
Johannesburg, Saturday -- Reigning champions had a tough time of it when the South African national circuit racing season got underway at a sweltering Kyalami today.
Wins were hard to come by for many of the competitors who bagged national titles last year, and a couple of them also suffered the indignity of crashing. On the whole, though, it was an encouraging start to a season where the winds of change are starting to blow through South African motorsport with controlling body Motorsport South Africa adopting a hands on approach to administering the sport.
On the evidence of today's meeting, it looks as though the Sahara Production Car and South African Superbike championships will once again capture the imagination of the fans. Both got off to explosive starts, with plenty of drama set for the rest of the year.
Class A in the Sahara series is set to turn into a war zone. An explosive first heat has probably set the tone for the season with hardly a Class A car emerging without extensive bodywork damage.
The exceptions were race winner Melvill Priest, in the Audi Experience A4, and reigning champion Anthony Taylor in the Castrol BMW 330i. They were out in front and unaware of the argy bargy going on behind them.
By contrast the second race was a much tamer affair with Taylor this time getting away cleanly to romp to a comfortable win. This time he was followed home by an impressive Leeroy Poulter, in his first outing in the Sasol Nisson 350Z and teammate Gary Formato.
Clint Weston took both Class T heats in the Castrol Mini Cooper, with Delon Williams (Peugeot 206) and reigning champion Dave Compton, in the Sasol RunX, sharing the Class B wins. Trevor Tuck, in the factory Fiat Palio, and hardworking Rob Preuss, in a VW Citi Golf, shared the Class C honours.
Reigning Superbike champion Sheridan Morias, set to campaign overseas this season, made a one off appearance today and went home with a crash and a win under his belt. Morias, on a Suzuki after winning last year's championship on a First Technology Yamaha, fell in a first race that produced an explosive finish.
Fomer champion Stewart Macleod, on a KawasakiZX 10R, was fourth with half a lap to go and ended up sneaking the win. Arushen Moodley (Suzuki), Trevor Crookes (Pinetown Suzuki) and Shaun Whyte (Yamaha) tangled with backmarkers and got in each others way to open the door for Macleod.
Crookes and Morias then fought out a stirring second race battle. With riders having to use the same set of tyres for both races, the first race crash gave Morias an advantage and he made full use of it. Moodley, Whyte and Macleod completed the top five with Tertius de Lange (Yamaha) again holding off reigning champion Greg Gildenhuys (Autohaus Yamaha) for the Supersport win for 600cc machines.
Grant van Schalkwyk, in the Hi-Q Jaguar, the reigning WesBank V8 Supercar champion, was another titleholder to run into problems. Mechanical maladies sidelined him in a first heat won by Mackie Adlem (Fuchs Ford Mustang) ahead of Steve Smith (Hi-Q Jaguar) and Jaco Correia in the Omega Spares Chev Corvette.
Van Schalkwyk, like Morias, bounced back in the second race to lead home Adlem and Jimmy Auby (Bosal Jaguar) with Larry Wilford (Fuchs Ford Mustang) winning both heats of the GT2 category for cars restricted to 500 horsepower.
Reigning Engen VW Cup champion Robert Briggs (Bearingman VW Polo) was another to get his 2006 campaign off to a quiet start. A second and a fourth were his return for the day in a category that will again be ultra competitive.
Lee Thompson and veteran Iain Pepper, a mechanical malady casualty in race one, shared the wins. A third in a race and a second in race two were good returns for veteran Curt Alchin in the Bodyman VW Polo and he looks a likely championship candidate.
Yet another reigning champion to go through a topsy turvy day was Neil Lobb. He crashed in race one in the Shelby Can-Am outing after tangling with Ruan Pretorius in the Castrol Shelby Can-Am. Pretorius went on to win ahead of Donovan Roscoe (Stanley Shelby Can-Am) and Darryn Lobb in the DK Woodcraft entry.
The tables were turned in race two with Lobb edging out Pretorius. Third was Rui Campos in the Boltt Shelby who was around six seconds behind the leading pair.
With Robert Wolk, the champion over the last two years now campaigning in the Sahara series, the Formula Ford title is up for grabs. Brett Mayberry, in the BMR Van Diemen, staked an early claim and was the only double winner of the day.
Mayberry, however, was made to work for his wins by younger drivers. Marc Murray (Rotax Van Diemen) and Donovan Howard (Wap Alto Mygale) took the other race one podium positions, with Howard and Jayde Kruger (Wap Alto Mygale) second and third in race two.
Formula Ford - Heat 1: 1 B Mayberry (Van Diemen); 2 M Murray (Van Diemen); 3 D Howard (Mygale); 4 J Kruger (Mygale); 5 J Murray (Van Diemen). Heat 2: 1 B Mayberry (Van Diemen); D Howard (Mygale); 3 J Kruger (Mygale); 4 M Murray (Van Diemen); 5 J Murray (Van Diemen).
Engen VW Cup -- Heat 1: 1 L Thompson (VW Polo); 2 R Briggs (VW Polo); 3 C Alchin (VW Polo); 4 G Nathan (VW Polo); 5 S Watson-Smith (VW Polo). Heat 2: 1 I Pepper (VW Polo); 2 C Alchin (VW Polo); 3 L Thompson (VW Polo); 4 R Briggs (VW Polo); 5 G Nathan (VW Polo).
Shelby Can-Am -- Heat 1: 1 R Pretorius (Shelby Can-Am); 2 D Roscoe (Shelby Can-Am); 3 D Lobb (Shelby Can-Am); 4 K Zachau (Shelby Can-Am); 5 C Frost (Shelby Can-Am). Heat 2: 1 N Lobb (Shelby Can-Am); 2 R Pretorius (Shelby Can-Am); 3 R Campos (Shelby Can-Am); 4 D Lobb (Shelby Can-Am); 5 D Roscoe (Shelby Can-Am).
SA Superbikes -- Heat 1: 1 S Macleod (Kawasaki); 2 A Moodley (Suzuki); 3 T Crookes (Suzuki); 4 S Whyte (Yamaha); 5 R Portman (Honda). Supersport -- 1 T de Lange (Yamaha). Heat 2: 1 S Morias (Suzuki); 2 T Crookes (Suzuki); 3 A Moodley (Suzuki); 4 S Whyte (Yamaha); 5 S Macleod (Kawasaki). Supersport -- 1 T de Lange (Yamaha).
Sahara Production Cars -- Heat 1: 1 M Priest (Audi A4); 2 A Taylor (BMW 330i); 3 L Poulter (Nissan 350Z); 4 E van der Linde (BMW 330i); 5 M Steyn (Alfa Romeo). Class A -- M Priest (Audi A4); Class T -- C Weston (Mini Cooper); Class B -- D Williams (Peugeot); Class C -- T Tuck (Fiat Palio). Heat 2: 1 A Taylor (BMW 330i); 2 L Poulter (Nissan 350Z); 3 G Formato (Nissan 350Z); 4 M Priest (Audi A4); 5 E van der Linde (BMW 330i). Class A -- A Taylor (BMW 330i); Class T -- C Weston (Mini Cooper); Class B -- D Compton (Toyota RunX0; Class R -- R Preuss (VW Citi Golf).
WesBank V8 Supercars -- Heat 1: 1 M Adlem (Ford Mustang); 2 S Smith (Jaguar); 3 J Correia (Chev Corvette); 4 V Pappas (Ford Mustang); 5 D Auby (Jaguar). GT2 -- 1 T Wilford (Ford Mustang). Heat 2: 1 G van Schalkwyk (Jaguar); 2 M Adlem (Ford Mustang); 3 J Auby (Jaguar); 4 H Groenewald (Jaguar); 5 S Smith Jaguar). GT2 -- 1 T Wilford (Ford Mustang).