Zwartkops Raceway hosted the Winter Challenge as the third round of the Hankook Formula Vee National Championship on Saturday 29 June 2019.
During qualifying, it was Gert van den Berg (Hankook Rhema 2) who stole the pole from Jaco Schriks (Cubed Coatings Rhema 2) by 0.04seconds. They had a decent gap to Lushen Ramchander (TRA / D&B Industrial Forza) with Lendl Jansen (Bull Security Forza) in fourth. Brandon Hills (Mangaza Consulting Rhema 1.5) pipped dad Peter Hills (Lube Fushion Rhema 2) as they lined up on fifth and sixth. The Liqui Moly Team with Jeandre le Roux (Liqui Moly Lantis) and Robbie Thompson (Liqui Moly Lantis) was out in full force. Jeandre had to retire due to illness and Robbie was struggling with carburettor setup. Dave Austin (DA Racing Rhema 2) had to retire after a bolt caused the timing belt to break, causing some damage to the cylinder head. Michale Kernick (Northern Bolt and Tool Tasman) had a scare after the rear gearbox housing broke, sending him into the kitty litter on the fast turn four.
At the start of race 1 Van den Berg looked like he might be able to make a break from Schriks with a great start. Into turn two, there was action already as Brandon Hills lost his nosecone on the back of Lushen’s Forza. At the table top, Van den Berg then outbraked himself on a very slippery circuit and almost ran off track which allowed Schriks to close the gap. From here the two had a colossal dice with Van den Berg leading until lap nine. During the race, Brandon also outbraked himself going into turn five and spun Lushen into the gravel trap. Lushen had to rejoin and come back from the back and Brandon was struggling for the remainder of the race with minimal brakes. Peter Hills was set for a good battle with Symm Grobler (Rhema 2), but he spun going into turn five on lap two. Richard Carr (Lucky Star Rhema 2) also had a horrible race with misfiring issues due to a faulty distributor. The recovering Peter then had a good scare coming around turn one with Theo Vermaak (DOE Quality Parts Vision) in the middle of a spin. Jannie Geyser (Rhema 2) and Vaughn Hills (Hankook Sting) had a race long battle with Geyser just beating Hills across the line. In the end, Schriks beat Van den Berg across the line by 0,18seconds. Behind them Jansen beat Grober with Brandon Hills just behind them in fifth. Peter Hills recovered to sixth with Lushen to seventh just ahead of Ben Pienaar (DOE Quality Parts Rhema 2) and Shaun van der Linde (Len Schoen Estates Rhema 2). Jannie took tenth with Vaughn just behind him and a recovering Theo just behind them in the last point scoring position. Kernick continued to struggle with a misfire and retired.
In Race 2, Ramchander joined the front battle. Schriks passed Van den Berg on lap five and led until the checkered flag. This was after Van den berg tried numerous overtaking manoeuvres (some on the grass), only to allow Ramchander to take second off him on the last corner. Behind them Peter Hills recovered to fourth after coming through the field and passed Jansen and Brandon Hills when the two of them tangled and Brandon spun. Behind Jansen, Grobler and Carr had a good dice with numerous passes taking place and they finished sixth and seventh. Pienaar and Van der Linde also had a good dice with the recovering Brandon passing them late in the race. Jannie Geyser then pipped Theo Vermaak for the eleventh and twelfth place. Michael Kernick and MD Bester completed their torrid weekends with a continuation of misfiring and gearbox issues. The new Liqui Moly sponsored cars looked amazing, but as expected there were still some teething issues and once these are sorted they will have awesome racing with a well-supported outfit.
Overall results for the day put Jaco in 1st, Gert in 2nd and Lendl in 3rd. In the Championship battle, the points looks as follows: Schriks 89 points, Van den Berg 68 points and Ramchander 65 points.
The real interesting fact is that the total race time of 1h25min for all six heats leaves Schriks only 2,55seconds ahead of Van den Berg. This is a clear indication that the racing is extremely close and as exciting as it’s been for a while!
The fourth round will take place on 20 July at Redstar Raceway near Delmas.
Story by Gert van der Berg on behalf of Formula Vee