For anyone wanting an introduction to Engen Volkswagen Cup racing, the event on Tuesday at Zwartkops Raceway would have been the perfect introduction. One corner completed of the first lap of race one and there were two different incidents involving four competitors.
For Gary van Heerden (M4 – Nutritech / Motul) and Shaun La Reserveé (M3 – Alpine Motors / Compendium Insurance) it was rather dramatic as the pair left a race track littered with pieces of Volkswagen Polo when they made brutal contact just before turn two.
In the case of Matt Shorter (11 – Champion) and Jurie Swart (39 – Ferodo) while the bump was less dramatic it was rather more important – as Shorter was due to start race two in pole position and his team had limited time to effect repairs to make the starting grid.
Once the Zwartkops marshals had cleared the debris and the cars were away from the track, race one was restarted and it was back to the close racing action that is a hallmark of the Engen Volkswagen Cup series.
Bradley Liebenberg (12 – Ferodo) was the man at the front of the pack when the chequered flag was waved after the nine lap race. Liebenberg led home Trevor Bland (M2 – Universal Health Care/Phoenix) who claimed second (and also took the race win in the Masters category). Keagan Masters (18 – Champion), the current championship leader, finished race one in third place.
Shorter made the starting grid for the second race, thanks to the efforts of his team but it was Bland who claimed the chequered flag – both for the overall championship and for the Masters. Behind Masters it was Liebenberg who moved up four places from his fifth place start to take second and La Reserveé who delivered a stunning drive from a last-place start to finish third – and take second spot in the Masters category.
The back end of the Engen Volkswagen Cup field drew a lot of attention during that first race. The fight amongst the final five was a highlight. Some of the newcomers to the series were fighting it out in their own dice to the finish. Clinton Bezuidenhout (38 – Universal Healthcare / Phoenix) finally managed to break out, finishing ninth with Justin Oates (44 – Glasfit / Ctrack) 10th, Daniel Duminy (15 – SMD Group), Brad Beningfield (23 – Nashua) and Ethan van Heerden (21 – NutriTeck / Motul) in 11th to 13th place.
One Engen Volkswagen Cup racer that is celebrating after the Zwartkops event is Kuda Vazhure (19 – Volkswagen Motorsport). Vazhure started the event by qualifying in eighth place, but fought his way up to sixth place overall for the day – his best result to date. His next aim to finish within the top five – and he has half of the season to achieve this goal in the very competitive Engen Volkswagen Cup environment.
With the results at Zwartkops, there is a new leader in the Masters category. Juan Gerber (M8 – Glasfit / Ctrack ) has slipped into first place, with Bland overtaking La Reserveé for second spot. There really is no breathing room though as there is a single point between the top two and just one more between second and third.
In the Junior championship, Masters extends his lead slightly over second-placed Christopher Shorter, but in the overall championship standings, the big change is La Reserveé dropping to fifth with Bland and Liebenberg moving up a place each to third and fourth respectively.