Report by Greg Reilly Goldwagen VW Challenge Eastern Cape Showdown The second round of the Pro Tour Championship saw the Goldwagen VW Challenge make the long trip to the hot, humid and windy city of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Thirty three cars made the trip to the Aldo Scribante Raceway. Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions saw numerous competitors being plagued with various problems. Philip Croeser (Sabbatini Auto Stylists Golf) and Chad Bartrum (Corporate Office Concepts Golf) ran engine bearings while Stuart Mack (Mega-Magic Golf) had the right rear stub axle break on him. Newcomer Nico Smit (Bateman Engineering Polo) broke both CV’s in consecutive practice sessions with Henry van Vledder (“Batman” Golf) and Jason Finney suffering from broken side shafts. Carlos Nobre (Golf) was another casualty with damaged pistons in his car’s engine after being the fastest class B runner throughout the three practice sessions! Class A Race 1 Reigning champion George Economides (Menlyn Gearbox Golf) returned to the field to defend his title. He announced his intentions in qualifying when he claimed pole position ahead of Wayne Masters (Jonnesway Golf 4) for both races. A repaired Finney was next up with Ray Wilford (Fuchs Polo) lining up alongside him. The race got off to a good start with Economides leading ahead of Wilford and Finney. Finney was pushing hard and made his way past Wilford to claim second place on lap two. Shaun Bester (Hi Tech Elements Polo) retired with gearbox problems on the same lap. Masters claimed third place from Wilford on lap eight. Finney set about chasing Economides who was starting to break away from the rest of the field. Economides’ luck changed on lap ten when he came to a standstill alongside the track after a faulty kill switch ruined his chances. Finney held on to take the win ahead of Masters with Wilford holding Andy Gossman (Jakes Pallisade Golf) at bay to take third. Class P Race 1 Ryan Tholet (Prend Properties) surprised everyone by taking pole position ahead of Derick Smalberger (Sabertek) after a great qualifying session. Tholet held onto his lead on the opening lap with Clayton Le Roux (Martin Le Roux Motors) in tow. Smalberger had a terrible start when he discovered that he had no second gear. Jakes Jacobs woke the field up with an uncharacteristic spin through turn five. Smit did well to avoid what could have been a nasty accident. With the rest of the field sorting themselves out behind him, Tholet set about increasing his lead. Le Roux was holding on to a good second place when electrical gremlins ended his race on lap eight. A hard charging Barry Groenewald (Custom Technologies) found himself in second place ahead of a recovered Smalberger. Groenewald ran wide at the Conti Esses and Smalberger snatched up second place with a smile. Tholet took a well deserved win ahead of Smalberger with a recovered Groenewald in third. Class B and C Race 1 A rather small field of class B and C cars lined up on the grid for their first race. Bartrum was back in the running thanks to the loan of Mack’s engine which was only completed five minutes before the start of the race! With Nobre (Golf) not being able to qualify due to his earlier engine maladies it was Gerhard Henning (Robbies Auto Golf 2) who took pole position ahead of Quinton Needham (Sasol Autobody Repairs Golf) and Kieren Quarmby (Gallardo IT Golf). Mark Gregory (Creative Patterns Golf) took pole position in class C with lady racer Elna Croeser (Golf) lining up alongside him in a borrowed car from Andrew Stevens. The field got off to a good start but chaos ensued through turn one when Needham was tapped into a spin by Derek Minnie (De Mac Auto Golf) causing the rest of the field to take evasive action. Henning emerged unscathed as the rest of the field sorted themselves out. Henning crossed the line after the first lap ahead of a recovered Minnie with Bartrum and Kieran Quarmby (Gallardo IT Golf) in hot pursuit. Philip Croeser’s efforts to get his car to the grid were in vain as he retired with overheating problems on lap two. A hard charging Bartrum was up to second place by lap two. Quarmby recovered from having to run wide after the first corner incident and was up to third place by lap five. This only lasted for one lap when Nobre announced his intentions after starting from the back of the grid to slot into third place on lap seven. Craig Gammie (Golf) was unfortunate to end his race with clutch problems on the same lap. Henning held off Bartrum to take the win with Nobre taking a comfortable third. Gregory took a comfortable class C win ahead of Elna Croeser. Race 2 The second race saw all of the classe’s line up on the grid for the final heat. Class A The second race got off to another good start with Economides leading ahead of Masters and Finney. Behind them Wilford was holding Waldie Meintjes (Albatros Motors Polo) and Jurgen Pillhofer (Eternity Jewellers Polo Playa) at bay. With the top six running off into the distance the battles further down the field were the ones to watch. Eddie Rodrigues (MF Autobody Polo) and Gavin Ross (Norbrake Golf) were involved in a great dice for seventh place with the pair going at each other lap after lap. Ross only just got the better of Rodrigues after the full twelve laps. Economides held Masters off to take the win with Finney fighting all the way to take third. Class P Smalberger had pole position for the second race with Le Roux lining up alongside him. Next up was Jacobs with Tholet only qualifying in fourth for the second race. Smalberger led the race ahead of Le Roux and Jacobs after the first lap. Le Roux was fired up after his earlier problems and took the lead on lap two. The four car train continued to snake itself around the circuit with challenges and attempts to change position being made on almost every corner. Jacobs had to wait until lap eight before he could squeeze his way past into second place. Tholet saw his chance on lap ten and relegated Smalberger to fourth place. Le Roux went on to take the win with Jacobs holding Tholet at bay to take second place. Class B and C The tension was high for the second class B race with the main protagonists all vying for the top spot. The race got off to a frantic start with at least three cars running abreast to turn one. Chaos ensued when Bartrum and Nobre were involved in a collision with Minnie, with Minnie coming off with the most damage. Nobre retired from the resultant damage to his car on lap two. Elna Croeser also ended her race on the same lap with brake problems. Henning once again emerged from the chaos in the lead. Quarmby was hot on his heels however and the chase was now on. Ian Prinsloo (Venditor Konica Minolta Golf) had an inspired start and was up to third place behind the leaders. Needham and Bartrum were on his tail and a great battle started to develop between the trio. Needham made his move on lap five when he slipped up the inside of Prinsloo to snatch third place through turn seven. Prinsloo continued to stave off the attempts of Bartrum to get past him when tragedy struck on the penultimate lap. Prinsloo’s car decided to shed its left rear wheel exiting turn five putting paid to his chances of a good finish. Henning managed to hold Quarmby at bay to take the win with Needham taking a safe third place ahead of Bartrum.
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