The fifth round of the 2012 Pro Tour lived up to pre-race expectations and put on a spectacular show at the Zwartkops Raceway earlier today.
Kawasaki ZX10 Masters Cup
In the absence of championship leader Stewart Macleod there was going to be at least one more name added to Macleod’s as Kawasaki ZX10 Masters Cup race winners in 2012. Pieter de Vos was the first to stake his claim when he set the faster time in this morning’s qualifying session taking pole position ahead of Tony Klem, Paul Jacobs and Brian Bontekoning. Jacobs was demoted to the back of the grid after not entering parc ferme at the end of the qualifying session. This promoted Joe Shearer to the final spot on the front row of the grid.
The first race was dominated by de Vos and Bontekoning with the pair opening up a nine-second lead over the chasing pack. In the end it was former off-roader Bontekoning who took the flag just over two tenths of a second ahead of de Vos. Shearer got the better of Klem for third with Jacobs, who had a storming ride from the back of the grid, just behind in fifth. Johan le Roux won his race-long battle with Andre van Vollenstee to claim sixth.
In the second race Klem led off the line but it wasn’t long before de Vos and Bontekoning made their way past. They again opened a sizable lead over the rest of the field although this time it was de Vos who took the win. Behind them Shearer, Klem and Jacobs were swapping positions almost every lap. They eventually finished in that order with less than half a second covering the three of them. Le Roux and von Vollenstee continued their race one battle with le Roux winning this round as well.
As expected, Toby Venter made it a clean sweep at the head of the GT Challenge field. He qualified his Porsche on pole position and went on to claim two comfortable wins. Vernon Bicknell (Porsche) took both GT1 class wins after his only serious rival, Rod Cole-Edwards, developed an engine problem during yesterday afternoon’s qualifying session.
Things were a lot closer in the GT2 class. Andrew Culbert (Porsche) took pole ahead of Sun Moodley (Porsche) but unfortunately oil temperature problems spoilt his chances in both races. Moodley took full advantage of his team mate’s misfortunes and went on to victory in the first heat. He was followed home by Jonatahan Shenkman in his Ferrari F430 with Greg Parton (KTM X-Bow) and Captonian Johan Engelbrecht (Porsche) in close attendance. Parton took the second heat from Engelbrecht and Moodley.
The BMW M3 of Kris Budnick led the way in the GT3 class winning both heats from Deon du Plessis (KTM X-Bow). Nicky Dicks (Porsche) claimed the final podium position in the first race while Preyen Moodley did it in the second.
The various Porsche models competing in the GT Classic field were led home in both races by Donovan Symes. He was followed home on both occasions by George Avvakoumides and Willem van der Westhuizen.
Defending Shelby CanAm champion Rui Campos made his intentions clear during qualifying when he claimed pole position ahead of current championship leader Brian Algar. They were followed by Ferdi van Niekerk Jnr and Alan Eve with row three of the grid occupied by Thomas Reib and Andrew Strike.
Campos had a fairly comfortable drive to the win in the first race although his caused was helped by Ferdi van Niekerk Jnr who had a spin early in the race that spread the field. Algar set about closing the gap to Campos and by the time the flag came out he was just under three-quarters of a second behind the winner with Eve about the same distance behind him. Suspension failure on Strike’s car a few laps before the end of the race saw him career off the track and into the barriers. Luckily he emerged unscathed although the same could not be said for his car. Reib ended in a lonely fourth ahead of Gerald Chapman and Barry Ingle who enjoyed a race-long battle.
Strike’s pit crew worked wonders in the break between races allowing him to line up in pole position for the second race. Unfortunately, after getting off the line in the lead, he misjudged his braking mark at the top of the hill and the resulting off-track excursion dropped him back down the field. Reib inherited the lead until a nudge from Eve saw him fighting to regain control of his car. Eve, Algar and Campos took advantage of his misfortune and swept past. Eve went on to cross the line ahead of Algar but a subsequent 20 second penalty saw him demoted to fourth. This gave Algar the win ahead of Campos and a recovered Reib. Strike brought his battered car home in fifth place.
Qualifying times in the Goldwagen Challenge were extremely close in most of the classes. Lee Thompson led the way in Class A from Charl Smallberger and Waldie Meintjies. The top six drivers were separated by less than a second. Rory Atkinson, out in a new car after his start-line accident in Cape Town, took Class B ahead of Darren Nathan with the top four less than four-tenths of a second apart. Things were a bit more open in Class C with Andre Needham on pole ahead of Henry van Vledder who had Wouter Roos in close attendance. The tight battles continued in Class D with Lyle Ramsay just three-hundredths of a second behind James Hurley.
Classes A & C were run together and there was drama right at the start of the first race. Wouter Roos was caught out on the grid and was tagged by Francois van Zyl & Jannie van Rooyen. This brought out the red flag so the marshals could clear away the debris that was left behind. When the race restarted it was the Class A competitors turn to provide the excitement. Charl Smalberger got tapped going into the first corner and hit the barrier hard. Once the resultant safety car period ended, Thompson went on to a comfortable win ahead of Gerhard Henning and Quinton Needham. Andre Needham took a lights-to-flag win in Class C ahead of a battered van Zyl with Jannie van Rooyen in third.
Atkinson’s eagerness to take full advantage of his pole position in Class B cost him dearly in the first race as he was adjudged to have jumped the start. Although he crossed the line in first place, the subsequent 30 second penalty dropped him down to fifth. Nathan inherited the win from Elna Croesser and Peter Thompson. Hurley and Ramsay fought a race-long battle that ended with Ramsay taking the flag less than three-tenths of a second ahead of Hurley.
Thompson had another comfortable Class A win in the second race, this time ahead of Derick Smalberger and Henning. Henry van Vledder won Class C from van Rooyen and Roos. Nathan looked to be heading for his second Class B win of the day when his engine started losing power. This allowed Atkinson and Croeser past and he had to settle for third. In Class D Ramsay and Hurley resumed battle and again it was Ramsay who crossed the line first, this time just over four-tenths of a second ahead of Hurley.
Greg Wilson claimed the first pole position of his Formula Vee career from Alan Holm and Scott Temple. This, however, did not translate into success for Wilson as contact with Holm and Peter Hills saw him stranded in the kitty litter at the exit of the first corner. A seven-car battle for the lead, involving Holm, Temple, Jaco Schriks, Gert van den Berg, Hills, Johan Gouws and Nicholas Tennant then developed with positions being swapped almost every corner. The battle was spread out when Schriks spun through turn four. The safety car came out but in the meantime Ebraham Jood has gone wide at turn 1 and spun into the back of Wilson’s parked car. This bought out the red flag and the competitors lined up on the grid waiting for the debris to be cleared. Temple took the lead from the restart and, despite close attention from the vastly more experience Holm, claimed the win. Despite his earlier spin Schriks managed third.
All hopes of an incident free second race were dashed on the first lap when Schriks spun again, this time at turn five. In the resultant chaos as drivers tried to avoid each other Tennant’s car was lauched into the air and came down upside down in the kitty litter. The race was immediately red flagged while the medical crew removed Tennant from his car. He was transported to Unitas Hospital as a precautionary measure, but was later released with nothing more serious than soft tissue damage. Once the race got underway again Holm took the lead from Hills and Temple. Temple tried to get through on the inside of Hills on the inside of the final corner of the first lap and the pair banged wheels. Temple made it through the corner but Hills was not so fortunate and spun. He had to wait for the entire field to pass by before he could re-join the fray and did exceptionally well to make it back up to sixth before the flag came out. Ahead of him Holm took the win from Temple who had to fight an ill handling car after his clash with Hills. Wilson made the best of a day that had started with lots and took third place ahead of Schriks and van den Berg.
The next Pro Tour event takes place on 28 July 2012 at the Kyalami Circuit in Midrand.