Stiaan Kriel started his 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge campaign by taking home every point on offer at the opening round at Midvaal Raceway. His clean sweep on Saturday, February 17 may have looked like a walk in the park, but had it not been for some hard work leading up to the event the Pozidrive/Kalex Volkswagen Polo might not have made the grid at all.
Up to the final week of January, the 2017 Class A runner-up was still putting his budget together for the season ahead. With a new title sponsor signing on, the livery had to be changed leaving Kriel with very little time to prepare the car. With Jaco van Schalkwyk assisting it took six consecutive evenings of moonlighting into the early hours of the morning to rebuild the car. With 48 hours to go prior to the weekend’s first free practice session, the car was still not yet completely race-ready. It was however ready to test at Zwartkops Raceway the Wednesday afternoon where Kriel already proved to have a clear advantage over some of the other Class A competitors also present on the day.
Friday’s practice day at Midvaal Raceway saw no official timing being conducted, but Kriel showed early pace during the first session. He did not participate in the afternoon’s second session and following a few minor adjustments by Kosie Weyers he went out for a few laps during the afternoon’s final session.
Kriel’s visible confidence during Friday was justified on Saturday morning with the addition of official timing. He took pole position during the qualifying session; 0.739 of a second faster than his nearest rival. With this only being Kriel’s second visit to the circuit, it was evident that the only chance of beating him would require the rest of the front-runners to cash in on his relative lack of circuit experience.
These hopes soon went out the window the minute that the first 10 lap race got started. Kriel quickly pulled away from the pack and was only seen again by another competitor when he started lapping the backmarkers near the end of the race. With Kriel also setting the fastest lap he was assured of another pole-position for the second race which proved to be a carbon copy of the events from earlier in the day.
The overall results for the day are compiled by accumulating the times from both races which saw Kriel classified in first position. It must be mentioned that this classification is used for the purpose of conducting the organiser’s prize giving ceremony and does not count towards championship points. Kriel took to the top step of the podium to take home a well-deserved trophy; something which didn’t appear to be a possibility just over a week prior to Round 1.
Kriel’s first acknowledgements went out to the his sponsors: “A month ago we didn’t know if we would be able to make the 2018 grid, but here we are leading the championship now and without you this would not have been possible. I’d like to sincerely thank Chris Dale from Pozidrive and Dale Automation, Paul Hill from Kalex, Racing with God and SAX Shocks for coming on board this season. I’d also like to thank those who stayed with us for another season: Spanjaard Limited, N4 Autocraft, Geardown Gearbox & Diff, Bessie Bester Motors and Most Wanted Performance Tuning. Be sure that our aim is to let you be at the front of the field throughout the season.”
While Kriel’s efforts certainly provided him with a reason to celebrate his success, he praised those who helped him for making the weekend possible: “It’s quite a good feeling to be setting the pace straight away without any real significant testing. Compared to some of the guys in the class we were miles behind them prior to the season; when we started building they were already fine tuning setups. This is not a one man job, this comes from solid team work and dedication. To Kosie who was here on Friday, John Kruger who was here today along with Jaco: Thank you for all your hard work. Round 2 is just around the corner and now that we have the advantage we’ll do everything to retain it.”
In addition Kriel would also like to thank the associate sponsors of the MotorMart VW Challenge for making this exciting category possible: Norbrake Distribution, ATE Brakes, Dicktator Engine Management Systems, Yaskawa and BPM Engineering.
Round 2 of the 2018 MotorMart VW Challenge championship will see Kriel competing at Zwartkops Raceway in Centurion on Saturday, March 17.
Story by Reynard Gelderblom – Stiaan Kriel Racing