Van Den Berg Secures His First SA National Championship Title!
After an epic battle at the final round of the 2016 Hankook SA National Formula Vee Championship, it was Gert Van Den Berg (BP Nantes Motors Rhema 2) who secured his first SA National Championship title!
Gert Vand Den Berg started the day qualifying third behind two times SA National Formula Vee Champion Jaco Schriks (Rhema 2) and Greg Wilson (Reflex Solutions Forza), who after missing some races earlier in the year was not a contender for this year’s title. Starting behind Van Den Berg, would be the other two contenders for the title; ex SA National Formula Vee Championship Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2) and Association Chairman and three times SA National Formula Vee Champion Peter Hills (Lube Fusion Rhema 2). Rounding out the top six, was Liam Pienaar (Phoenix Jewellers Forza), followed by Lushen Ramchander (Miami Products and Services Forza), ex double SA National Champion Anthony Taylor (Solarutility Rhema 2), Lendl Jansen (Bull Security Rhema 2), Ben Pienaar (BJ Pro Welding Rhema 2), (Ross Rugheimer Rhema 2), Brandon Hills (Lube Fusion Rhema 2), Barry Du Plessis (Tri Star/Airex Lantis), Namibian, Siyabonga Mankonkwana (Itaka Rhema 2) who was making his first appearance in the SA National Formula Vee Championship, Shaun Van Der Linda (Len Schoen Estates/Ana Millit Rhema 1) and Fred Rugheimer (Rhema 2).
Van Den Berg had done all his sums and knew exactly where he had to be in relation to the other top contenders. With Schriks having the most leeway to make up, Van Den Berg knew that he could let him take the wins and as long as he secured good results of his own, the title would be his. He had to finish both heats in the top three and that is exactly what he did, taking second place behind Schriks in the first heat and third in the second heat, behind Schriks and Wilson. Schriks had taken the bonus point for Pole Position, Van Den Berg responded by taking the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race! With only twelve points separating the first four drivers at the end of the season.
In the first heat, Schriks was followed home by, Van den Berg, Wilson, Peter Hills, Grobler, Ramchander, Jansen, Liam Pienaar, Brandon Hills, Ross Rugheimer, Taylor, Ben Pienaar (after an excursion through the Turn 4 gravel trap), Van Der Linde, Mankonkwana and Fred Rugheimer after Du Plessis had only complete two laps, before retiring from the race.
In the second heat, Schriks took his second victory of the day ahead of Wilson, Van Den Berg, Peter Hills, Grobler, Taylor, Ramchander, Jansen, Ben Pienaar, Ross Rugheimer, Liam Pienaar, Mankonkwana, Van Der Linde, Fred Rugheimer and Du Plessis who this time managed to complete three laps, before retiring from the race. With his twelfth place finish, Mankonkwana had picked up his first SA National Formula Vee Championship point, on debut!