Practise under the blazing African sky on Friday, race in overcast conditions turning to rain on Saturday afternoon. That was the lot of the Super Series competitors at Zwartkops this past weekend.
The Engen Volkswagen Cup field tackled round one of their national championship – and the rain stayed away right up until the field headed to the starting grid for race one. It signaled the start of what would remain a wet race day, with just the amount of water proving to be the variance between races.
No amount of rain could dampen the action out on track though and Mathew Hodges (M3), in his first Masters’ season in the series, showed that being over the 27-year category limit has done nothing to slow his pace. Qualifying in third, he was just behind Daniel Rowe (11) and Dewald Brummer (2). Newcomer to the series, 14 year-old Sheldon van der Linde (16) (brother of 2012 champion Kelvin), immediately put himself in the top-six draw for grid positions – and right into the thick of the action.
Van der Linde wasn’t about to stand back for anybody, which was plain for all to see when an on-track battle with Shaun la Reservee (7) resulted in a shattered driver-side window. He narrowly missed the podium in race one, finishing fourth with the top three positions taken by Hodges, Brummer and Rowe.
In the second race Rowe’s performance in the wet racing conditions couldn’t be matched and he moved from a sixth place start to claim the chequered flag – with constant pressure from his teammate, Van der Linde, who finished his race day with his first podium in the series, having briefly led at one point.
For Brummer, a pole position start in the second race was not enough to keep him at the head of the field when a fuel problem saw him steadily dropping down the order and he eventually finished in 16th place.
This series has six newcomers this season, with Van der Linde the fastest so far. Christopher Shorter (33), Michael Gibson (21), Shayur Harpal (26), Anthony Lessing (22) and John Craig (19) all enjoyed varying levels of success in their first outing which started on an unusual note for the Engen Volkswagen Cup – all starters of race one were there to claim the chequered flag, not an everyday occurrence in a series which regularly sees mirrors flying as the drivers jockey for position.