Johannesburg, Saturday -- A motorsport icon rode off into the sunset in fairytale fashion and the first Black drivers to win South African circuit racing championships were crowned at an emotional finale to the Vodacom Power Tour at AA Kyalami ...
Johannesburg, Saturday -- A motorsport icon rode off into the sunset in fairytale fashion and the first Black drivers to win South African circuit racing championships were crowned at an emotional finale to the Vodacom Power Tour at AA Kyalami today.
Sarel van der Merwe drove the final two races of an illustrious 30 year career that saw him reach legendary status, and Transkeian Tschops Sipuka and Sowetan Philip Kekana wrote themselves into South African motor racing history by clinching South African championships. Sipuka put the finishing touches to the Engen VW Cup series in the first race of the day and, about an hour later, Kekana followed him into the record books by winning Class D of the South African Production Car Championship.
In two red blooded Wesbank Samcar Series races 56-year-old van der Merwe went out in a blaze of glory and, in typical fashion, with a touch of controversy. First he shepherded young Sasol Supervan Racing protege Johan Fourie to the Wesbank championship by finishing second to the talented Capetonian in heat one -- with both Fourie and van der Merwe, out in Opel Astras, tangling along the way with former Wesbank champion Roelf du Plessis in the Chev Camaro.
Supervan won his final race to end a fabulous career in style -- but along the way again had to see off the attentions of du Plessis. After the pair clashed coming out of Goodyear Corner, they tangled again at Wesbank and this time du Plessis found himself temporarily stranded in a gravel trap.
On both occasions du Plessis lodged protests over the final result. Both protests were overruled by the clerk of the course, Jimi Smith, but du Plessis has the right to appeal against the decisions.
Sipuka and Kekana, who also narrowly missed out on winning the South African Junior Drivers Championship, were overcome by the occasion. On a day packed with emotion they were also forced to share centre stage with van der Merwe and a string of other drivers and riders who clinched national championships at the final outing of the season.
Two second places were enough to see Sipuka wrap up his title, and Kekana took a fourth and a fifth to clinch his championship. Kekana and Opel Corsa driver Jody Powell, however, were pipped at the post by East Rand based Dave Compton, in a Toyota Tazz, who won the SA Junior Drivers championship by picking up enough points in the final race of the season to see him home.
Former Touring Car champion Shaun van der Linde was another big winner and did enough to win, for the second year in succession, both the South African Saloon Car Drivers Championship and Class A. Two wins were not enough to see Mark Cronje finish second in Class B to Team Castrol Toyota team-mate Charl Wilken -- with young Cronje missing out to Martin Steyn (Flatron Honda Ballade) on a count out of wins after they finished level on points.
Capetonian Lawrence Boshoff (Honda Ballade) left it to the last race to sneak the Class C championship from fellow Honda driver Ian Long. Compton did the same to win Class E and the SA Junior Drivers championship after a season long battle with Powell and Kekana.
There was nothing at stake in the Formula Ford event with Morne Jurgens (Jurgens Truck Mygale) already crowned champion. Garth Waberski (Mygale) and talented Gavin Cronje (Van Diemen) shared the wins in two races that provided for high entertainment.