Championship shake up, with youngsters dice heating up

The sixth round of the Hankook National Formula Vee Championship took place on 18 August at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria. The day was eagerly awaited due to the re-appearance of several past champions. On Friday, it was the regulars setting the pace, but Alan Holm (Office Direct Rhema 2) showed why he has been 5 times champion and ended the day fastest.

Qualifying was done in extreme cold and windy conditions and the times were very close. Gert van den Berg (BP Nantes Motors Rhema 2) grabbed pole by 0,070seconds from Jaco Schriks (Bean Child Coffee Merchants Rhema 2). Holm was third 0,027seconds behind Schriks and Lushen Ramchander (TRA D and B Industrial Forza) was only 0,056seconds behind Holm. Behind them, Ross Rugheimer (Rhema 2), Symm Grobler (Rhema 2), Lendl Jansen (Bull Security Forza) and Peter Hills (Lube Fusion Rhema 2) was only 0,8seconds behind Van den Berg in pole position. Vaughn Hills (DOE Quality parts Sting) and Geoff Tugwell (Solar Utility VMax) had some difficulties and ended fourteenth and fifteenth. Roy Douglas (Forza) found the slippery conditions tough and was a little slower than the promising times of his one practice session on Friday.

In Race 1 the start was clean until Tugwell spun in trying to go past Taylor on the outside of turn four. He got beached and the safety car was brought out. At the restart, Van den Berg and Schriks again pulled a small gap on the fighting field behind them. Holm and Grobler had a small coming together with Holm losing his nosecone. Holm pulled clear of a battle for fourth. Grobler, Peter Hills, Ross Rugheimer and Jansen was split by 0,5seconds across the line. Ramchander was in close pursuit, but had problems with his engine and dropped back on the last two laps. In the front Schriks passed Van den Berg, only to be passed on the grass during the last lap by Van den Berg. Van den Berg won from Schriks, Holm, Grobler, Hills, Rugheimer, Jansen, Ramchander, Taylor, Brandon Hills, Travas Rugheimer and Ben Pienaar rounding out the points. Geoff Tugwell retired when he spun and Douglas improved his qualifying lap time by about a second.

Between the races, Lushen Ramchander (2nd in the championship) had to change engine due to a suspected engine failure. Unfortunately, he could not make the start of the second race and started two laps down.

Race 2 went the same as the first until Van den Berg ran wide into turn 2 and Schriks passed him. On the next lap, Holm squeezed past and was then protecting his old teammate from attacks by Van den Berg. The trio pulled a decent margin on the remainder of the cars and crossed the line split by 0,7seconds. Behind them Jansen, Grobler and Peter Hills had a good fight crossing the line in that order. Brandon Hills had a lonely race in seventh and Ross Rugheimer and Pienaar had a good dice for eight and ninth. The points were rounded out with Travas Rugheimer, Fred Rugheimer and Vaughn Hills who struggled with a sick engine for the whole day.

It was a well-attended day with sixteen entries and extremely close racing. In the end, Schriks took the victory from Van den Berg and Holm.

In the Championship, Ramchander suffered due to his troubles and fell to third behind Van den Berg.
Current points:
Schriks 155points
Van den Berg 137points
Ramchander 120points

Interestingly, the battle for fifth is split by only 6 points between Jansen, Brandon Hills and Ross Rugheimer.

The next round is at Phakisa on 15 September and this will be run with the Formula Monoposto brigade. It should make for a decent grid and extremely close racing as usual. This promises to be an exciting event and the racing is accompanied by the majority of the formula camping and enjoying the weekend as a group of friends.