But official blundering mars great racing
Cape Town race fans were treated to spectacular Bold Marine Western Cape GTi Challenge action at Killarney’s season-opening at the Wingfield Power Series races Saturday 18 February. Close battles on track, dramatic incidents and some controversial calls made for an epic day’s racing as the Cape’s most competitive race class burst into its new season.
Twenty-two cars went out to qualify, where Jano van der Westhuizen put the Wingfield Kwikfix Polo Vivo on pole position ahead of Jurie Swart Junior (Alpine Autohaus Polo Classic), rapid class B graduate Shane du Toit and Polo Cup graduate John Craig returning to GTi action in his Polo Vivo. But qualifying was hardly over when controversy raised its ugly head as Craig’s car was found to be just 5 mm too low.
But rather than allow Craig to rectify an obvious oversight and add to a fine fight up front, a fiasco played out that would lead to John being sent home for the day. A shameful decision that robbed an already small class of some great intrigue and cheated the crowd of a certain spectacle.
So Class B frontrunner Eden Thompson was promoted to fourth on the grid in his Golf 1 GTi, which saw Marco Busi’s Automan Golf 1 GTi bumped up to fifth and Class C pole position, with Class B runners Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli) and Wayne Field in a pair of Golf 2 GTis between him and second placed Class C driver, the on form 16-year old Giordano Lupini (Golf 1 GTi), Mario Roux’s Class B Jetta 2 was next up as 2017 champion Bryan Morgan rounded out the top ten in his Greatsoft Class C Golf 1 GTi.
Van der Westhuizen, Swart and du Toit made off in front, but du Toit suffered early driveline issues to leave the other two to dice it out side by side for several laps until Jano gradually drew away to win. Behind them Class B duo Geldenhuys and Thompson scrapped an unsafe distance ahead of the Class C battle.
Sadly the Class C battle reduced to two cars after Class B midfielder Field suffered his latest bout of brain fade and rammed Lupini’s smaller class car from behind to derange its suspension a leave the lightie to struggling on helplessly as his pursuing rivals one by one picked off his now ill-handling black Golf. Field continued as if nothing had happened and even escaped sanction in yet another display of utter inconsistancy by WPMC officials who had recently meted out draconian penalties to other drivers over trivial driving issues.
That left Busi to put in a brilliant display as he held off the attentions of Morgan, with Chris Swart bringing his immaculate Jacks Paint Edgemead Golf 1 home third in Class C and seventh overall ahead of Class B man Roux’s Jetta and Field. Jarred Simpson struggled home fourth in Class C in his misfiring Greatsoft GTi 1 ahead of impressive rookie Jaco Lambert and Dillon Joubert’s Class C GTis and 14-year old Dario Busi bringing his Automan Class C Polo home safe on his Challenge debut.
The second race started with a bang when a brawl broke after mid-pack Class C runners Jarred Simpson and Giordano Lupini made contact on the start straight and gyrated among the pack into turn 1 to eliminate Lupini and Class C runner Alfie van Zyl after the two made heavy contact and delay Simpson and Dillon Joubert. The incident later led to a few more eyebrow-raising official decisions.
But the race went on in more or less the same pattern as the first heat, with Jano and Jurie scrapping up front after du Toit stopped again, while Geldenhuys turned the tables on Thompson and Marco Busi kept Morgan at bay to take Class C again and close off the top six. There was however a brilliant scrap for third in Class C as Swart fought off most determined rookies Dario Busi and Lambert. Kart star Dario was particularly impressive in how he handled that delightful spat to claim a deserved WPMC Driver of the Day award.
Overall, van der Westhuizen won the day from Swart – they were the only finishers in an already small Class A grid further depleted by inane rules and decisions, while Geldenhuys fought Thompson off to secure Class B honours, with Roux, Field and Earl Josephs scattered among the Class C runners.
Marco Busi delivered a masterclass to take Class C from Morgan, Swart, Lambert, Simpson, Dario Busi, class newcomer Brad Wadeley, Gideon Serfontein, Dillon Jearey, Gert du Pessis and a hobbled Dillon Joubert. It was a great day’s racing albeit with thin grids in the top two classes, but the racing was once again marred by ridiculous and completely inconsistent official decisions that not only continue to rob the crowd and race fans of real racing, but also make a mockery of the class.
GTi Challenge and the WPMC need to nip this nonsense in the bud, otherwise not only will it very soon rob the class of critical competitors keen to race elsewhere without official sanction, but it will also scare future racers away from an otherwise brilliant spectacle.