For a number of people, the 2004 South African Formula Vee season, has not gone as planned, while others, have exceeded even their own expectations. At the beginning of the year, the firm favorite to win the 2004 South African National Formula Vee Championship, in most people’s minds, was the 2000 National Title holder Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2). By mid season, it would appear that this will not happen. A mistake in the first race of the year, left him without a single point but he came back to win the second heat and everyone thought he was on his way. Then two more first heat failures, both due to mechanical problems, lost him more valuable points. At both these events, he again made amends in the second heat, with a second place finish and another win but then to everyone’s surprise, he withdrew from the Championship race and redirected his funds toward the purchase of a house.
Making the most of his opportunities, veteran Formula Vee racer Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), has led the Championship from the beginning of the season, in a quest to win his first National Formula Vee Title. With four wins, three second places, a third and two fourth place finishes, he continues to hold a points advantage over Alan Holm (JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2) and Jody Robertson (Rhema). Both of them, have also finished in the points at every race but have failed to win a National race between them, although both have Regional Championship victories, to their credit, this year. Robertson will however not be contesting the second half of the season, having finally made his long anticipated switch, to the Engen Polo Cup series.
Already six different drivers have won races, so far this year, with the 2001 National Title holder Lee Thompson (Rhema), winning three, out of four heats, at the last two National events. This makes him the current man to beat and the biggest threat, to Grobler’s aspirations of securing his first National Championship Title, as the second half of the season unfolds. The other threat could come from Holm, who has taken first heat victories at both of the recent Regional Championship events and will be hoping to add some National Championship Race wins, as well. The two new JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2s, have become more and more competitive, as the season has progressed and Holm’s team mate Jaco Schriks (JBS / Laser Sprint Rhema 2), could pick up his first National Championship race win, before the end of the year as well.
Of the teenage Karters, that have joined the category this year, sixteen year old Jonathan Vilaca (Vision) has been the most successful and has already recorded top ten finishes, at both National and Regional level. Fifteen year old Andre Van Der Merwe (ACC Air Conditioning Rhema 2) and fifteen year old Kyle Bennett (Rhema), have yet to make their National Formula Vee debuts but both have already picked up points scoring finishes, in the Regional events. Now another Karter, sixteen year old Trevor Bland, will soon be making his debut in the category as well, behind the wheel of the ex Jody Robertson Rhema.
One of the revelations of the year, has been the performance of development driver Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema), who currently holds seventh place, on the National Championship log, ahead of both his Vacuform team mate Peter Hills and his mentor, Anthony Taylor. In contrast, the other development drivers have not had the best of starts to the season, particularly Kearn Francis who until recently had not finished a race all year. With the preparation of his Rhema now entrusted to Prosport Racing, Francis is hoping for better things, in the second half of the year.
Only five events remain and these will be run at the Wesbank Raceway, on the 7th of August, at the Zwartkops Raceway, on the 21st of August and the 26th of September, at the Mercedes Benz East London Grand Prix Circuit, on the 23rd of October and at the Phakisa Freeway outside Welkom, on the 6th of November.