- Double victory for stand-in driver Lee Thompson
- Wide and flowing new Kyalami circuit provided ultimate backdrop for spectacular racing
- Close at the top of the points ladder between Robertson, Bezuidenhout and Gerber after Round 2
- Valuable lessons learnt for Volkswagen’s Vazhure and Mogotsi on iconic circuit
The wide and flowing sweeps of the brand new Kyalami Grand Prix circuit provided the perfect battleground for the Engen Volkswagen Cup brigade to showcase the main attributes that make the one-make series so popular with competitors and spectators alike. These attributes are the youthful talent that you will find behind the wheel of each of the 22 identical Volkswagen Polos which in turn result in spectacular racing.
Following an overall victory at the season-opener in Killarney four weeks ago, Shaun La Réservée would have been the one defending championship points lead as the Engen Volkswagen Cup moved to Gauteng for Round 2. But the young man decided to get married on race day instead. Good news for their rivals was that championship hopeful Tasmin Pepper would also miss the Kyalami round seeing that she was the maid-of-honour at the same wedding.
But it turned out to be bad news for the rest of the field as the Pepper racing team got two former Volkswagen Cup stars to dust off their boots and fill the gaps left by La Réservée and Pepper. Lee Thompson and Dewald Brummer were more than happy to pick up where they left off, and it took the experienced Thompson all but 5 laps of qualifying to stamp his authority on the event by claiming pole position from Devin Robertson by more than half a second. Clinton Bezuidenhout, Dewald Brummer, Juan Gerber and Jeffrey Kruger made up the all-important top 6. These six then went into a super-pole qualifying session which consisted of a single flying lap to determine the final grid. But one lap was all that Thompson needed. This time his advantage over Robertson increased to 0.8 of a second.
With that kind of pace, it was never really in any doubt that Thompson would be the man to beat, and he didn’t disappoint. It was the perfect comeback to Volkswagen Cup racing with a flag to flag victory over Devin Robertson. The real action took place behind the leading two, and after a tough battle, it was 16-year-old Clinton Bezuidenhout who crossed the line in third, just a single second ahead of the Polos driven by Juan Gerber and Dewald Brummer with Jano van der Westhuizen rounding out the top 6.
An Engen Volkswagen Cup innovation that aims to result in even more spectacular racing sees the 6 fastest drivers from qualifying to draw their starting positions for Race 2. Dewald Brummer got the lucky number one while teammate Thompson dropped down to P4 on the starting grid. But it mattered little as it didn’t take him long to work his way to the front once the lights turned green to start race 2. It was a perfect display of speed and consistency that saw Thompson take the double, but it was the spectacle behind him that got the crowds to their feet.
Seeing no less than as much as six to eight Polos in a space that was designed to accommodate maybe three or four is exactly what spectators want to see, and in race 2 at Kyalami, it’s exactly what they got. When the dust settled, it was Brummer who crossed the line in second, followed by Gerber and Robertson with Bezuidenhout and Kruger once again rounding out the top 6.
In Engen Volkswagen Cup, they add up the total times of both races to determine the final order of the day, and it came as no surprise to see the name of Lee Thompson top the standings after a total of 16 laps and more than 34 minutes of flat-out racing. Robertson claimed second overall here at Kyalami, while Brummer made a great comeback with a fine third overall, ahead of Gerber, Bezuidenhout and Kruger.
Volkswagen’s very own Jonathan Mogotsi and Kuda Vazhure were also right in the mix and learnt valuable lessons on the sacred tarmac of the legendary Kyalami circuit. Vazhure missed a gear in race one that resulted in some technical issues and was having a great dice with the field when he received a little nudge at Leeukop that forced him to finish the day down the order. Mogotsi enjoyed a cleaner run and was thrilled with having the opportunity to put his skills to the test for the first time at Kyalami. The Volkswagen Driver Search winner from 2016 finished the day in 12th, adding valuable experience to a career that is only just getting started.
“We were very happy with the great show that all 22 of our Engen Volkswagen Cup Polos managed to put on for the large crowds that returned to the new Kyalami for the first time in 2017,” said Mr Mike Rowe, Head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “The series is proving to be very successful in terms of both spectator value as well as developing the stars of the future, which is exactly what Volkswagen wants as a company and as a responsible investor in South Africa’s future.”
The Engen Volkswagen Cup brigade will receive another opportunity to showcase their braveness when they travel to East London for the next round on 20 May. The East London Grand Prix Circuit is home to the infamous flat-out Potter’s Pass and Rifle bend which should separate the men from the boys.
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) April 24, 2017