Seaoned competitor Rick Morris (8 – Investchem) caught the youngsters napping at Zwartkops Raceway on Thursday. The opening round of race day saw the younger drivers chasing the wily Morris around the circuit as he delivered a masterclass in single-seater driving.
Before the event, Morris was in fifth place overall in the championship – and no-one expected him to take the leading position on track on race day. Morris, however, was unfazed by the scrabble behind him when, in the opening stages of the first race Julian van der Watt (42 – Investchem) and Dewald Brummer (4 – MAD Racing / Ango Trucks / Fuchs Oils) made contact.
That moment was all the opportunity Morris needed to move into first place and become a very real headache for the challengers. Lap after lap Morris fended off his rivals, with the lead swapping briefly on occasion when Brummer found a gap. Eventually though Brummer did manage to make the overtake stick and he was the first of the Investchem Formula Ford competitors to cross the finish line.
With Brummer the first to finish and Morris taking second, Alex Gillespie (50 – Mbotyi River Lodge) claimed the third step on the podium for race one – which was certainly amongst the most exciting on the day. For Gillespie a podium finish in race one was a significant achievement since he had pulled off in very last spot on the grid (which he had to repeat in race two due to not having posted a qualifying time).
The fight for fourth raged between Dean Venter (77 – MAD Racing/Fuchs Oils/Ango Trucks), Andrew Horne (31 – Investchem), Allen Meyer (15) and Andrew Schofield (23 – Investchem). Venter emerged the victor in this battle, with Horne rounding out the top five.
Van der Watt, as the championship leader, did not have a happy start to his day. After his adventure with Brummer in the opening lap, he returned to the circuit by was unable to take the flag, completing eight of the 10 laps. He made up for this in the second race, returning to a better example of his form.
Brummer was the man to beat in race two, again taking the victory at the end of the 10 lap race, this time with the championship leader in his mirrors. For Van der Watt, the second race was a matter of concentration and conservation as he worked to get to the finish, while managing a misfiring engine. It was a juggling act, trying to stay competitive but also keep the car going long enough to take the flag and score much-needed points.
Venter moved from his fourth place finish in race one to take third spot in the second race, making it on to the podium both for that race and to take third overall for the day.
Morris meanwhile slipped to fourth place by the finish as he was experiencing braking problems during the second race which hampered his ability to push for maximum speed but then still slow down fast enough to get through the corners. This still put him at the top of the list in the Over 50 and Ladies category for the day.
Ahead of the next race, Brummer is now the championship leader, with Van der Watt slipping down into second place while Venter is in third spot. Morris is in fourth place overall. With three points between third and fourth place and two points between first and second, the Investchem Formula Ford championship is heating up, promising a tussle for the rest of the season with none of the competitors able to rest easy in their respective positions.
The Investchem Formula Ford competitors will contest round four of their national championship on Saturday, July 9 in East London. This high-speed event will undoubtedly create further drama in the series, with the outcome impossible to predict.