An exceptional, balmy late autumn’s afternoon delivered great Extreme Festival motor racing at the East London Grand Prix Circuit Saturday as a full day’s program played out to an encouragingly large and appreciative Border region crowd.
The Sasol Global Touring Cars topped the bill as Michael Stephen stormed to an emphatic double victory for Engen Xtreme Audi at the third round of the series. Like Stephen won both races, Bradley Liebenberg delivered a similar performance to give the new Mini team its first GTC2 win.
Stephen started the first race third on the grid behind his pole-sitting teammate Simon Moss and Johan Fourie in the EPS BMW, but champion Stephen was soon driving off to win from Moss, Fourie and the Volkswagen Motorsport Jettas of Daniel Rowe and Mathew Hodges. Both Sasol BMWs of championship leader Gennaro Bonafede and Robert Wolk pitted and Michael van Rooyen’s RSC BMW stopped after a strong run that saw him up to fifth.
Kosie Weyers surprised to take the early GTC2 lead before Liebenberg’s Mini reeled him in, but the Chevrolet developed clutch issues to allow Trevor Bland’s Volkswagen Golf GTI to move up to second from Weyers, Craig Shorter (Champion Mini), Iain Stevenson (Comsol VW Golf GTI), Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI duo, Keagan Masters and Mandla Mdakane, a struggling Charl Smalberger (iCorp Volkswagen Parts Golf GTI) and Dayne Angel’s brand new Autohaus Angel Honda Civic Type R.
The reverse grid second race saw Sasol BMW duo Wolk and Bonafede on the front row and Dayne Angel on GTC2 pole in his Honda. Bonafede made the early running up front from Wolk, but the Audis were soon up to third and fourth with Stephen relentlessly closing down on the BMWs ahead, soon taking care of Wolk and then dealing with Bonafede for the lead. Stephen duly won from Bonafede, Wolk, Fourie, Hodges Rowe and the delayed Moss.
Angel also made good on the reverse grid start to lead the GTC2 first lap until being tagged by Mdkane to leave Smallberger battling with Stevenson and Masters for the lead. Liebenberg was on the move and soon passed the early leaders to win from Masters, Bland, Shorter, Stevenson, Mdakane and Angel.
The Engen Volkswagen Cup delivered its regular high jinks as Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Health) and Devin Robertson (Payen) shared race wins. Robertson was on course to the first race win when his car developed a misfire to plummet down the grid on the final two laps, but he bounced back to pip Kruger to the post in the second race.
Matt Shorter (Moog) inherited second in the opening race ahead of Shaun La Réserveé, who took Masters honours in the opening race with Glasfit/C-Track duo Juan Gerber and Justin Oates next up and Clinton Bezuidenhout (Nural) sixth. La Réserveé’s car broke its engine as sit started up for race 2 leaving Shorter, Bezuidenhout, a most impressive VW Motorsport Driver Search winner Jonathan Mogotsi and Oates to close off the second race top 6.
Julian van der Watt (RDSA Investchem) continued unbeaten for 2017 in Investchem Formula 1600 and with Stuart White racing in France this weekend, the dices for second entertained as a delighted Brad Benningfield (General Energy) took the spot in race 1 ahead of the tussling Alex Gillespie (ERP Trucking) and 14-year old Cameron O’Connor (Repro Services), with Dean Venter fifth from Andy Schofield (Investchem). Van der Watt made off into the distance in the second race leaving O’Connor to fend off Benningfield, Liam Pienaar, Gillespie (Phoenix Jewellers) and Schofield.
Two races for the visiting Gauteng Comsol Volkswagen Challenge saw packed grids producing wild action thoughout as Devon Piazza-Musso benefited pace man Stiaan Kriel running the first lap with his Spanjaard Polo’s handbrake up to break away and take an easy win from Kriel and Wayne Masters (Performance Masters) after Iain Pepper (Husqvarna Polo) suffered a gearbox issue to retire from third. Nic Clarke held Adrian Wood and Kyle Ramsay (Monroe Vivo) off for the Class B win and Rory Atkinson (Pozidrive) took his regular Class C win from Shane Crous (Ancro Construction) and a delighted Chris Dale.
Kriel made no mistakes to take the second race from Pepper and Piazza Musso, while Wood won Class B from Ramsay and Jacques Smith after Clarke was delayed. A delighted Crous meanwhile turned the tables on Atkinson to take Class C with Wouter Roos third.
Jonathan du Toit (TAR Ferrari) beat Gianoccoro G&H BMW duo Gianni and Ricky to a noisy Extreme Supercars race 1 win but the Ferrari stopped late in race 2 to allow Gianni to beat Ricky Gianoccoro and Paul Hill (BMW) to the win.
Dean Vos (Kawasaki) beat Shaun Vermaak (Kawasaki) and Gavin Upton (Motion Yamaha) to Bridestone Thunderbike two wheeled victory. Vos also took race 2 from the Kawasakis of Travis Naude and Pierre Le Roux (Buffalo Service). Graeme van Breda (IVID) and Sven Grune shared Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters Cup wins with Jaco Gous (Central Propshaft) and Pieter de Vos (Jongingozi) and van Breda and Gous filling the respective podium places.