Atkinson and Meintjes meet the Zwartkops challenge

On  a Zwartkops race day punctuated by delays and red flags, Rory Atkinson (Comsol Polo) and Waldie Meintjes (LTR / Marty’s Body & Spray Polo) shared the class A wins in the second round of the 2016 Comsol VW Challenge series on Saturday, 19 March. Defending champion Nic Clarke (Central Technical Services Polo) grabbed victory in the first class B heat but had to settle for the runners up spot behind Darren Nathan (Sextrader Polo) in the second heat. Graham Savage (Goldwagen JHB CBD and Wynberg Golf), who won for the first time at the opening round at Phakisa, took both class C races.

Rory Atkinson
Rory Atkinson

The morning’s qualifying session gave some idea of how close the racing would be later in the day. Atkinson claimed the class A pole but there were two drivers within half a second of his time. Meintjes was closest with James Hurley (Starter Pack Company Polo) next up. Tasmin Pepper (Campos Transport / Alpine Motors Polo) lined up in fourth with Iain Stevenson (Comsol Polo) and Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Beetle), both of whom missed the opening round, in fifth and sixth respectively.

Nathan was the only class B driver to break into the 1:15s and took pole ahead of Clarke. Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) headed the second row of the grid alongside Deon Holiday Snr (Centworx Polo) who was making a welcome return to the series. The third row was filled by Brad Hall (Hellermann Tyton Racing Polo) and Adrian Wood (Polo) who has spent the past couple of years competing in the Engen Volkswagen Cup.

In class C the top seven drivers were separated by less than a second. 2016 champion Zander Roos (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo) led the way ahead of a trio of Golf 1s. Elke van Vledder was the quickest of those ahead of Savage and Stuart Mack (Goldwagen JHB CBD and Wynberg Golf). Fifth and sixth went the way of Shaun Crous (Ancro Building Projects Polo) and Sam Dale who was having the first outing in his new Dale Automation Polo.

In the opening race Atkinson got a great start and was never headed on the way to a comfortable class A win. Meintjes was involved in a three-way battle for second early in the heat but manage to open a bit of a gap while Pepper and Hurley were fighting for third. Stevenson just couldn’t stick with the leading quartet and had a somewhat lonely race to fifth. Wayne Crous (King Price Insurance Polo) and Smalberger had a race-long battle for sixth with Crous claiming it by less than 0.4 seconds.

In class B it looked like Nathan was going to have things all his own way as he opened up a gap of just over a second but Clarke took advantage of the traffic as they came up to lap the slower class C cars. He grabbed the opportunity when it presented itself on the penultimate lap and took a hard-fought win. Wood claimed third on his first outing ahead of the returning Holiday Snr. Despite a spin in turn 4, Van Zyl managed to take fifth ahead of Mile Stewart (RCS Security Services Polo).

Roos made a poor start in class C allowing the three Golf 1s to fight it out at the head of the field, van Vledder leading the way from Savage and Mack in the early stages. Savage managed to find a way past van Vledder around the half distance mark and, once in the lead, opened up a gap that saw him take a comfortable win. Behind him Roos recovered from his poor start to join van Vledder and Mack in the battle for the final podium positions. Van Vledder managed to hold on to take second from Roos with Mack having to settle for fourth. Fifth and sixth went to Duncan Marais (Golf) and John Johnstone (Circle Group Polo) respectively.

In race 2 it was Meintjes who got off the line and into the lead, a position he held until the red flags came out signalling a premature end to the race after Marais rolled his Golf in turn 2. Behind Meintjes Atkinson emerged as the runner up, holding off Pepper and Hurley. Stevenson again had a slightly lonely race in fifth with Crous taking sixth.

Clarke took the early lead in class B but was unable to hold off a determined Nathan who got through and went on to take victory. Wood claimed his second podium of the day with a steady drive to third ahead of Hall, van Zyl and Jacques Smith (Hydra Arc Polo).

In class C Savage took the lead from the start and was able to control things from the front. Behind him Mack’s car developed a misfire and, while he managed to hold on to third, could do nothing about challenging van Vledder who finished in second. Roos was the next ahead of Crous and Johnstone.

Meintjes just took the overall class A win from Atkinson and Pepper. Class B went to Clarke from Nathan and Wood while Savage claimed class C with van Vledder and Mack completing the podium.

The Comsol VW Challenge brigade make their way back to Phakisa for the third round of their championship which takes place on Saturday, 23 April.