In a surprise outcome at round six of the Investchem Formula 1600 championship on Saturday, Stuart White (8 – Fantastic Racing) claimed victory at Zwartkops Raceway ahead of the championship leader, Julian van der Watt (42 – Race Driver SA). Until this event, Van der Watt had an unbeaten record of race wins for the 2017 season.
While victory for White will not threaten Van der Watt’s championship, it is an unexpected moment in the national single-seater season and serves to delay Van der Watt’s official title win announcement.
There was a hint of what was to come for the weekend when White proved quickest in qualifying, nearly a half-second faster than the championship leader. With Cameron O’Connor (93 – Repro Supplies / Racing Factors) and Liam Pienaar (67 – Phoenix Jewellers) not far off the pace of the top two – and Dean Venter (77 – Desco SA / Manitou Group) also in the mix it was shaping up to be a race day full of close calls.
Van der Watt certainly seemed to have things under control in race one when he took over the lead from White and finished in his usual first place – this after a tense moment between the two in turn four which resulted in White losing a part of his front wing. In this first race Pienaar finished behind White to claim his second podium finish of the season and O’Connor was forced to abandon the race when his accelerator stuck and he had his hands full, preventing the car from hitting the barriers.
In race two White, again starting from pole position, wasn’t giving up his place at the front of the field to anyone. He worked hard to keep Van der Watt in his mirrors for the entire 10 laps despite multiple challenges from the championship leader.
That race two win – along with the second place in race one and his qualifying position – was enough to put White at the top of the overall log for the day. Van der Watt took second while Pienaar put his name on third place.
In class B, it was also a day for the unexpected. Allen Meyer (15 – Investchem) grabbed his opportunity to beat Ian Schofield (10 – Investchem) in the first race. Schofield had a particularly trying race weekend with a lack of engine power. Despite this challenge, Schofield turned the tables on Meyer in the second race to take the class victory by a narrow 0.214 of a second.
Newcomer to the Investchem Formula 1600 championship, 16 year old Tiago Rebelo (59), found his initiation to main circuit racing a challenging experience. Rebelo’s karting may have prepared him for close competition, but needs more time behind the wheel before he can mix it up with the race leaders.
The Investchem Formula 1600 championship heads to Killarney in Cape Town for the penultimate round of their 2017 season and, based on the action at Zwartkops Raceway, it could be another round of surprises as competitors in this open-wheel series fight for their final standings of the year.