Jano van der Westhuizen kept Marco Busi behind to take GTi Challenge Class A

Image by Reynard Gelderblom

Accidents, red flags, scintillating action and even an engagement set GTi Challenge opener apart

Being the most competitive class in the Cape and considering the testosterone build-up the off season, it’s perhaps little surprise that the opening race of the Bold Marine GTi Challenge lasted just four corners before the red flags flew.

That may be four corners more than the same race last year and it may have seen the first race canned to render the second heat into a 12-lap double-pointer, but the action was still of the top order as Jano van der Westhuizen, Jacques Geldenhuys and Ebrahim Levy emerged the winners on the day.

The action started far more romantically after Marco Busi (Class A Automan Jetta), Damien Lopez (Class B Polo) and Levy (Class C Jive Golf 1) claimed their respective pole positions, when the entire field except for Roelof Tolman (Class B Will You Marry Me/Cash Cars Golf 1) unexpectedly stopped at Turn 1 on their warm-up lap. Tolman than pulled up in front of the stands and proposed marriage to girlfriend Charlene Starke, who immediately accepted!

It never remained very serene for long however — in fact the first race only lasted four corners before Damien Lopez’s Polo appeared to be pushed wide into the notorious double-apex Malmesbury Sweep. Lopez kept his foot in it but the Polo veered hard right, spearing across the track where Class C newcomer Matthew Curry found himself with nowhere to go in his immaculate Omega Golf.

Curry ploughed hard into the side of Lopez’s car to set off an explosive reaction that saw both cars wrecked along with another Class C driver, Mike Venlet whose Class C Golf 1 eliminated as part of collateral damage that saw several other cars more lightly crumpled and the race promptly halted to allow marshals and medics to extricate Lopez from his wrecked car and see him off to hospital with concussion.

Ebrahim Levy took GTi Challenge Class C

Image by Reynard Gelderblom

Race 1 was then canned with race 2 extended from the regular 8 to 12 laps and double points awarded as the field started off the original grid albeit with a few holes left where the eliminated drivers should have sat after what seemed an eternal wait. Pole man Marco Busi (Automan Jetta) jumped into the initial lead before Jano van der Westhuizen (Kwikfix/Bessie Bester Motors Polo) moved ahead on lap 2 to stay there in spite of Busi and Chris Swart’s best efforts in the Spongebob Jetta.

Swart then slowed and stopped on lap 4, leaving Busi to hound van der Westhuizen all the way to the flag with Andrew Goslett (GAP Jetta) a distant third after Pieter Kriel’s Golf joined Swart for an early shower.

Jacques Geldenhuys (Ferroli Golf 2) stormed to a most impressive Class B victory, starting four cars behind Peet van der Walt whose PSW Sport Polo inherited pole position after Damien Lopez’ earlier demise. Geldenhuys picked off his rivals one by one and clear off to what was eventually a four-second victory as he left van der Walt to fend Scotty Hayes (Jetta) off for second.

Eden Thompson (Golf) rescued a difficult weekend to come back to fourth in Class B from Cash Cars Golf duo Herman Lazarus and the freshly engaged Roelof Tolman and debutant Wayne Field, who survived a major spin to bring his Golf home seventh.

The Class C Golf Mk. 1 Brat Pack delivered its expected spectacle with Dewald Lubbe (Combustion Technology) and Ebrahim Levy (Jive) delivering a spectacular dice for the lead that saw Lubbe eventually lead Levy over the line by just three-hundredths of a second. Sadly Lubbe’s car failed a post-race check to be excluded, leaving Levy to take maximum double points by six seconds from Gideon Serfontein (Goeie Hoop Onderdele).

Gert du Plessis (Cash Cars) was third from the ever-improving Dillon Joubert (Powder Coating World/TAC Steel), Dillon Jeary (Lucan Racing) and Francois Erasmus (QTech/Modjets/GAP), who fought off a late charge by young karting graduate Giordano Lupini, who showed he is getting to grips with main circuit in spite appeared to be a troublesome Monroe Racing South Africa/AutoNews Golf Mk.1

So it was a very busy and most interesting opening weekend for the Bold Marine GTi Challenge that proved costly for some and which promises much action in the year ahead starting with the second round of the Killarney Power Series on 19 March – diarise it now!