The fourth round, of the 2017 Hankook SA National Formula Vee Championship, produced the customary close races at the cold Phakisa Freeway near Welkom.
Pole Position went to the rookie, Siyabonga Mankonkwana (Cervinia Investments Pty Ltd Rhema 2) who grabbed pole by 0,7s ahead of three times SA National Formula Vee Champion Peter Hills (Lubefusion Rhema 2), Jaco Schriks (Cubed Coatings Rhema 2), Lushen Ramchander (Miami Products and Services Forza) and Lendl Jansen (Bull Security Rhema 2).
In the first heat, Mankonkwana, Hills and Schriks had a battle from the start with Ramchander, Van den Berg and Jansen following in close pursuit. Brandon Hills (Lubefusion Rhema 1.5) was struggling with brake problems and lost touch after lap 4. The lead changed on every lap and the leaders came to blows on the fast sweep after the backstraight. Mankonkwana and Schriks touched wheels and Schriks’s nosecone went flying. Both men barely kept it on the black stuff and finished in that order ahead of Van den Berg, Hills, Ramchander and Jansen. The first six cars were covered by 1,3s. The order further down was Brandon Hills, Ross Rugheimer (Rhema 2), with Byron Mitchell (Dolphin Engineering Sting) beating Fred Rugheimer (Rhema 2) while Barry du Plessis (Tri-Star Vision) and Shane Helberg (ShanBerg Racing Forza) had their own dice. Visser Downey (Rhema 1) had brake issues and retired during Race 1.
Race two had the same six fighting for the lead. As the race wore on Schriks’s car started overheating and lost some power. Hills and Van den Berg then pulled a small gap working together to break the tow of the following cars. In the end Van den Berg led Hills over the line with a small gap to Mankonkwana, Ramchander and Schriks, with Jansen behind them. Ross Rugheimer beat Brandon Hills who still had brake issues. Fred Rugheimer was ahead of Mitchell, Helberg and Downey. Barry du Plessis failed to start as his car died on the way to the grid.
The overall result was Van den Berg, Hills, Mankonkwana as the three podium finishers. Van den Berg extends his championship lead with Hills, Schriks and Mankonkwana only separated by eight points.
The weekend was a weekend of learning and it became clear that the national contenders will have a pretty used set of rubber for the Cape Town event with Phakisa becoming really harsh on tyres. This will make it so much more interesting at Killarney with the Capetonians chasing them all the way.