A triumphant return for Johns. The 2000 South African National Formula Vee Champion, Dennis Johns, returned to the category at Kyalami and gave his brand new Rhema 2 a dream debut, taking pole position, both race wins and the fastest...
A triumphant return for Johns.
The 2000 South African National Formula Vee Champion, Dennis Johns, returned to the category at Kyalami and gave his brand new Rhema 2 a dream debut, taking pole position, both race wins and the fastest lap. In doing so, he became the fifth driver to win a National Formula Vee race this year, in this highly competitive single seater category. Up against him, were not only the current log leaders, David Veringa (Sabat Rhema) and Alan Holm (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema) but the reigning National Champion Trevor Smith (Lantis) and ex National Champions, Anthony Taylor (Rhema 2) (1997 and 1998), Peter Hills (Peter Hills Auto Clinic Sting) (1999) and Lee Thompson (Rhema) (2001), who along with Johns, hold the last six consecutive National titles, making it a field of awesome quality.
In the first heat, Johns soon established himself at the head of the field and gradually set about opening up a five second margin of victory. Behind him Jody Robertson (Rhema) was also reasonably secure, opening up close on a four second gap, on the battle that raged behind him. It was here, that most of the action was taking place, as Veringa, Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), Thompson, Holm, Hills, Taylor and Ernest Viljoen (Auto Atlantic/Protea Hotels Rhema), were battling it out for the third podium position, with Smith coming through from the back of the grid, to join them, as the race progressed. By this time, both Veringa and Thompson had fallen by the wayside, Veringa losing valuable Championship points, due to a broken throttle cable, while Thompson had burst a front brake pipe. In the end, it was Johns who secured his first victory for more than a year, ahead of seventeen year old Robertson, Holm, Taylor, Grobler, Hills, Viljoen, Smith, Claude Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting), Tony Beecher (Laser), Wayne Bennett (Lafarge Readymix Rhema 2) and Jaco Schriks (Johannesburg Bright Steels Sting).
The second heat victory, would prove to be a bit more difficult, for Johns. He had not yet broken away from the pack, as they arrived at Wesbank corner for the first time. Exiting the bend, someone inside him ran wide and Johns was forced off the circuit, rejoining well down field. He then produced the drive of the day, as he carved his way back to the front again. After the race, he revealed that it was scary, recalling some of the overtaking moves he had made but such was his confidence in the handling of his car, that he was even prepared to overtake on the outside, around the long sweeping Goodyear Bend. In the early stages of the heat, the battle for the lead had been intense, with an eight car train at the head of the field and positions changing on a regular basis. As the race wore on, the bunch split up a bit and in the end, it was Johns who took his second victory of the day, from Veringa, Smith, Robertson, Hills, Grobler, Viljoen, Taylor, Holm, Schriks, Cartmell and Jannie Geyser (Vision).
Despite the first heat retirement, Veringa retains his position at the head of the log, while Holm pulled off a great escape. Having hit the wall backwards, on the second flying lap of qualifying, he and his helpers had done a monumental job, in changing the gearbox, replacing damaged trailing arms and getting the car set up again, during the couple of hours between qualifying and the start of the first heat and by the end of the day, he had closed the gap to Veringa, by two valuable points.