National Circuit racing is back with a vengeance after the Vodacom Power Tour got off to a stormy start at Kyalami on Saturday.National Circuit racing is back with a vengeance after the Vodacom Power Tour got off to a stormy start at Kyalami on Saturday.content here
National Circuit racing is back with a vengeance after the Vodacom Power Tour got off to a stormy start at Kyalami on Saturday.
Two reigning champions, who totally dominated their respective categories last season, suffered mixed fortunes. Johan Fourie, the WesBank V8 champion, and Hudson Kennaugh, the Radiator SA kingpin, headed for Cape Town and Durban respectively with a win and a non-finish under their belts.
Kennaugh, on the Dealer Team Suzuki, was involved in a fierce first race dice with the First Technology Yamaha pair Shaun Whyte and Sheridan Morias when he dumped the Suzuki – while in the lead - at Wesbank corner on lap five. That left veteran Zimbabwean Whyte and young Morias to get the First Technology squad’s season off to a one-two, with Trevor Crookes third, salvaging some pride for the Suzuki team, ahead of Arushen Moodley and Graeme van Breda on Suzukis.
It was back to business for Kennaugh in heat two. This time, aided by the fact that his first-race indiscretion helped save his tyres, Kennaugh produced a faultless display to hold off Whyte with Moodley edging out Morias and Van Breda.
After a protest from Suzuki over the legality of the front forks on Whyte’s Yamaha, the Zimbabwean was excluded from the results of both races for a “technical infringement” with team manager Robbie Petersen, a former SA champion, lodging an appeal against the decision.
The stewards of the meeting found that the modifications did not provide performance enhancement. Whyte was reinstated in the results, and Petersen was all smiles when he left the circuit.
Meanwhile, Fourie, in the Ericson Transport Opel Omega, romped away with the first WesBank V8 race. The Capetonian was never troubled by Hennie Groenewald’s Havoline Jaguar and Mackie Adlem’s Fuchs Ford Mustang, but his problems started when a thunderstorm rolled across Kyalami.
A pit mix-up just before the start of race two saw pit crew unable to fit the Opel Omega with wet weather tyres, and Fourie ended up a frustrated spectator. A reduced field lined up for race two and in difficult conditions Groenewald held off Grant van Schalkwyk (Hi-Q Mustang), who retired from the first heat with mechanical failure, and Adlem, who finished third.
The thunderstorm also added spice to the second heat of the Sahara Production Car event. The first heat, run in perfect conditions, saw Anthony Taylor score an easy win for the Castrol Van der Linde BMW team. Taylor finished ahead of Regardt Roets in the Squadra Corse Alfa 147 and team-mate Hennie Groenewald – and then had an adventurous time in race two, which started just as the storm broke.
Taylor was in the lead when his BMW momentarily left the track and dropped from first to sixth. Roets and team-mate Morne Jurhens then had a tremendous dice with Groenwald and former WesBank V8 champion Gary Formato, in a Nissan 350Z, closed in on the trio.
But Jurgens slid off the wet track, and Formato nudged
Groenewald’s car at the entrance to the main straight. Roets stayed out of trouble to win with Taylor suddenly finding himself back in second place with Formato also on the podium first time out in the Nissan.
Reigning champion Shaun van der Linde scored a brace of comfortable wins in Class B in the Castrol Mini Cooper, and that got his season off to a perfect start. It was the same story for Theunis Eloff, in the Fiat Palio, who took won both Class C heats.
Former champion Neil Lobb also made the perfect start in the Vodacom Sports Car series for the 3-litre Shelby Can-Am cars. He took two wins but had to work hard in the second race on a drying track.
Ruan Pretorius and Donovan Roscoe completed the podium in the first heat, with Rui Campos and Pretorius second and third. Campos streaked into the lead in race two, but as the track dried out was hauled in by Lobb and overtaken on the last lap.
Reigning Formula Ford champion Robert Wolk (Afinta Mygale) romped away with heat one of the Formula Ford event ahead of David Veringa (Sabat van Diemen) and Jayde Kruger in another Mygale. Race two was a different story, however, with Stephen Morris (Mygale) upstaging Veringa and Wolk.
Leeroy Poulter won first time out in the Engen VW Cup, a one-marque series for VW Polo models, with Robert Briggs and Scott Bricknell in the minor placings. Conditions were still tricky in the final heat with Poulter grinding to a halt on the final lap with the win going to veteran Iain Pepper ahead of Briggs and Kosie Swanepoel.