Saturday 11 May 2019 marked the start of the 2019 Hankook National Formula Vee season. The start was awaited with eager anticipation as the build up showed 24 cars entering this event which ran as part of the National Extreme Festival. With these entries, the Formula Vee grid could brag with the most single class entries for the day.
The expectation was that the main protagonists would be current champ Jaco Schriks (Cubed Coatings Rhema 2), Gert van den Berg (Hankook Rhema 2), Lushen Ramchander (TRA Forza) and Peter Hills (Lube Fusion Rhema 2). Lendl Jansen (Bull Security Forza) was also one of the possible contenders.
Even before qualifying there was drama as rookie MD Bester (Mangaza Trading Sting) hit the wall at turn 2. Theo Vermaak (DOE Quality Parts Vision) had engine issues which forced an engine change. Byron Mitchel (Dolphin Engineering Forza) had about 3 gearbox changes during Friday. Lendl Jansen also suffered gearbox woes. As usual, the Formula Vee family showed what teamwork is and even top championship contenders jumped in to ensure these cars were all on the grid for Saturday.
This year, qualifying for the two heats are based on the fastest lap and second fastest lap during qualifying making up the race 1 and race 2 grids. During Saturday mornings qualifying Schriks and Vd Berg took 1st and 2nd on the grid as expected, but behind them, Ramchander could not do similar in quali for both races. He could only manage 4th and 6th. Richard Carr (Lucky Star Rhema 2) surprised all and put his car on 3rd and 5th after carrying over his Friday form. Symm Grobler (Rhema 2) grabbed 5th and 3rd while Peter Hills managed 7th and 4th. Lendl Jansen had gearbox issues and only managed a 19th and 23rd on the packed grid. Local lad Jason Greyling (Hi-Tech Doors Forza) managed 7th and 6th and Byron Mitchel (Dolphin Engineering Forza) only did one qualifying lap due to the 4th gearbox issue of the weekend. This grabbed him 10th and 19th.
Race 1 saw lots of action and constant lead changes, but Schriks and Vd Berg pulled a gap and managed the race to finish 1st and 2nd with Ramchander a close 3rd. Behind them Carr just pipped Jansen and Hills for 4th, 5th and 6th. Grobler suffered a hub failure, Brandon Hills (Mangaza Trading Rhema 1.5) suffered engine issues and Vaughn Hills (Hankook Sting) suffered gearbox issues. Carr would however lose 4th as he was deemed to have jumped the start and awarded a 30s penalty demoting him to 10th.
Race 2 saw similar close racing with Schriks and Vd Berg continuing their fight, but this time they had a more sizeable gap to 3rd. 3rd to 9th split by 1,1 seconds with Carr this time beating Ramchander, Greyling, Jansen, Brandon Hills, Grobler and Peter Hills. Mitchel and Shaun van der Linde (RDG/Len Schoen Estates Rhema 2) followed this battle closely. As if this wasn’t enough, 13th to 17th was also split by 1,1seconds.
Overall this was a brilliant weekend with old timers taking the trophies, however the newcomers made their intentions clear. Jaco took 1st, Gert 2nd and Lushen 3rd, but behind them Richard Carr surprised and Lendl Jansen was definitely driver of the day as he had a difficult day, but took valuable points home!
Cape Town put its best foot forward with Gordon Mitchel from Dolphin Engineering assisting and pushing to put 12 cars from the Cape on the grid. They arranged a get together for Friday night and their effort and camaraderie is greatly appreciated.
Join us for the next event at Phakisa on 8 June 2019 where the close battles will resume and some new cars also joining the grid!