SAFV: Series Phakisa race report

Phakisa Formula Vee Thriller If the first round of the 2009 South African National Formula Vee Championship is anything to go by, it is going to be a vintage season for this long standing, entry level single seater category. With ...

Phakisa Formula Vee Thriller

If the first round of the 2009 South African National Formula Vee Championship is anything to go by, it is going to be a vintage season for this long standing, entry level single seater category. With a mixture of youth and experience, at the head of the field, the Phakisa event produced two stunning, no holds barred, multi car battles for the lead.

Starting from pole position, for the first time in his Formula Vee career, eighteen year old development driver Courtney Steenveld (NLDTF Rhema 2), controlled the first heat from the front, only once being headed across the line, by Jaco Schriks (Lasersprint Rhema2). It was however, a six car battle at the head of the field for most of the race, involving Steenveld, Schriks, triple National Champion Alan Holm (Lasersprint Office Direct Rhema 2), double and reigning National Champion Dennis Johns (Geyser Attorneys Rhema 2), Trevor Bland (Rhema 2) and fifteen year old Formula Vee rookie, Chad Van Beurden (Rhema 2).

Behind Steenveld, the rest of the bunch where changing positions virtually from corner to corner, until a double overtaking move at Turn One, by the more experienced drivers in the bunch, came unstuck and split the bunch with a couple of laps to go. Those involved, where Holm, Johns and Schriks, with Schriks faring the worst and rejoining in eight place, behind Zaahir Essa (NLDTF Rhema 1) and Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema2). There where other battles further down the field as well and even newcomer Henk Swanepoel (Rent a Renovator Rhema 1) and Chandre Kruger (Gilus IT SAP Sting), where involved in their own private duel, at the back of the field.

It was however, Steenveld who took the second win of his Formula Vee career, just under two and a half seconds ahead of Bland who was followed across the line, by Holm, Van Beurden, Johns, Essa, Grobler, Schriks, Paul Venter (Laser), Gareth Jackson (Lasersprint Rhema 2), Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 2) and Alan Eustice (Execuline Rhema 2). Fastest lap of the race, went to Van Beurden, with at time of 1min49.230 seconds, while the only retirement, came from Nicolas Tennant (Tennant Life Benefits Engineering Unlimited Custom Hobbies TK09) who stopped out one the circuit, with a seized motor, during the final lap of the race. Association Chairman Jannie Geyser Snr (Geyser Attorneys Vision), had however failed to start, having run the bearings of his motor in qualifying, after setting the twelfth fastest time, of the session.

Holm then failed to start the second heat, due to a clutch problem but in the early stages of the race, Essa and Grobler held onto the lead bunch, creating a seven car pack, at the head of the field. Then Essa got out of shape, at the high speed sweep exiting the back straight and took the escape route, ending up on the oval, from where he was able to make his way back to the circuit. As a result, Grobler lost touch with the lead bunch. Further back, Jackson and Pienaar, where involved in their own private battle, while Jannie Geyser Jnr (Geyser Attorney's Rhema 2), was carving his way through the back markers, after he had failed to come to the start line, pulling in at the end of the warm up lap to have a loose back wheel tightened, before joining the race, after the rest of the field where already well on their way.

As the race progressed, Steenveld, Van Beurden, and Bland, slowly opened up a small gap, over Schriks and a slightly down on power Johns and with a lap to go, Steenveld looked like he had his first double win and fist overall for the day, in the bag, having by then, also opened up a small gap, over Van Beurden but it was not to be! With less than a kilometer to go, the high speed sweeps exiting the back straight, would dramatically alter the outcome of the race. Van Beurden and Bland, had closed right up on Steenveld again and Bland was lining up Van Beurden for a pass, while in turn, Van Beurden was looking for a gap, to get past Steenveld. Van Beurden moved to the inside, as Steenveld swept in to take his line through the corner and Van Beurden already had two wheels on the grass, when the cars touched, spinning Steenveld around. They collided again and slid off the circuit together. Bland however, got through unscathed but had lost momentum and from fourth place, it was Schriks who swept past Bland, to take the victory, ahead of Bland and Johns, the three of them crossing the line, a fraction over two seconds apart. They in turn, where followed home, by Grobler, Pienaar, Jackson, Essa, Eustice, Geyser Jnr, Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT SAP Rhema 2), Steenveld and Swanepoel, with Bland taking the overall victory for the day, ahead of Johns and Schriks.

-credit: safv

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