Brett Garland (autObarn/Incco/Sabat Honda Civic) and Nic Martin (Rex Diff & Gearbox Peugeot 207) both claimed double victories in the respective classes when the 2020 Car Care Clinic SuperHatch Championship got underway at Red Star Raceway on Saturday, 22 February. In Class C, Andre Dannhauser (Pro Auto Rubber Opel Corsa) and Shane Forget (4J’s Auto Opel Cub) shared the wins.
Garland was comfortably quickest at the front of Class A, setting a time just over a second quicker than Tyler Scott (Lopec/EBC/Jestik Opel Kadett) in the morning qualifying session, with Francois Henning (Select Registrations VW Polo) in third. In Class B, Martin just got the better of VW Motorsport Academy driver Courtney Nicholl (VW Polo) to claim pole position. Mel Spurr (Car Care Clinic/AKA Signage VW Polo) headed the second row of the grid with Robert Stoltz (Lopec/EBC/Jestik Opel Kadett) alongside her. Ishmael Baloyi (Honda Civic) and Kenneth Ella (Mechanical Masters Opel Corsa) filled the third row. Dannhauser got the better of Forget in qualifying to take the bonus point. Freddy Watkins (LNF Racing/4J’s Auto VW Polo) set the third quickest time just ahead of Craig Priestley (Tactical Fluid Ford Laser). George Aldrich (Opel Corsa) was fifth while Juan van der Walt (Building Code Consultants Ford Fiesta) was unable to set a time after his fuel pump gave up on his first lap out of the pits.
In the opening heat, Garland grabbed the lead from the start and set about opening a gap over the chasing pack. After about half-distance he slowed slightly but, although Scott was able to close the gap, he wasn’t able to get close enough to mount a serious challenge and had to settle for second. Henning’s race came to a premature end on the second lap when he was forced to park is Polo on the side of the circuit.
Martin had no difficulty in getting the defence of his Car Care Clinic SuperHatch crown off to the perfect start, grabbing the lead from the start and pulling away to take the win by over 15 seconds. It was behind him that all the action occurred. Spurr looked to be cruising to a comfortable second place but Nicholl, who had managed to get caught up in the battle between the two leading Class C cars, had other ideas. Once he cleared that fight, he set about closing the gap to Spurr. He did, managing to lap nearly a second quicker than her at times, but couldn’t find a way past when he did get there and had to settle for third. Stoltz ended in fourth, while Baloyi, who took a while to get past Ella in the early stages of the race claimed fifth. Ella finished sixth.
In Class C, the battle between Danhauser and Forget could have gone either way but an ambitious move up the inside by Dannhauser just three corners from the flag worked and he was able to stay in front to the finish, albeit by just 0.087”. Watkins and Priestley had a great scrap with Watkins coming out on top to take third by just over half a second. Aldrich came home in fifth.
Rain, that had been threatening for much of the afternoon, had just started falling by the time the cars lined up on the grid for the second race. This played into Scott’s hand as he got past Garland and opened up a slight gap. Unfortunately for Scott, the rain started falling harder and Garland was able to close up on the Opel and grab the lead when Scott went wide through the twisty final section of the circuit just before the half-way mark. During Scott’s off-track excursion, he managed to damage one of his fuel lines, and with petrol leaking onto his rear wheel, the car was a handful to drive. He did, however, manage to bring it home in second place just ahead of Henning.
In Class B, Spurr was the early leader but, as the rain intensified she battled to keep her car pointing in the right direction and dropped down the field, allowing Martin and Nicholl to take over at the front. Martin led the way for a lap before Nicholl took over and it looked very much like he was going to claim his maiden win, but Martin is not a multiple champion for nothing. He bided his time and just three corners from home, made the decisive move, going on to take the flag just over half a second to the good. Spurr came home in third.
First race podium finisher Watkins didn’t make it to the start of the second race when transmission problems left him stranded on the side of the circuit. For Forget and Dannhauser, however, it way more of the same with the pair never separated by more than a couple of car lengths throughout the entire 8 laps of the race. This time, it was Forget who was in front when it counted with Dannhauser just over half a second back. Priestley had a somewhat lonely race to third with Aldrich in fourth.
In the day’s overall standings, Garland emerged on top of Class A with Scott and Henning joining him on the podium. Martin took Class B from Nicholl and Spurr while Class C went the way of Forget from Dannhauser and Priestley.
The Car Care Clinic SuperHatch drivers return to the track on 3 & 4 April at Zwartkops Raceway for the second round of their 2020 championship.