The fifth round of the 2017 autObarn SuperHatch Championship saw the competitors making the journey to the daunting Phakisa Racetrack outside Welkom. With many drivers opting to go with a co-driver for the event, it was shaping up to be an interesting event where a fine balance needs to be found between pace and strategy.
What also became a big point to consider was tyre wear, as the abrasive surface caused many a tyre to die an agonising death in Friday’s practice sessions.
Qualifying started just after 12h00. Setting the pace in Class A was Jeffrey Kruger, who was teamed up with current Class A leader Brett Garland (autObarn/Jonnesway/Total Honda Civic). It was clear that the Kruger/Garland combination was not going to have it all their own way, as they only beat the du Toit brothers (TAR Honda Civic) by 0.1s.
Nic Martin/Shaun Besteman (RDG Opel Kadett) managed the fastest time for Class B, closely followed by Louis Scholtz (Car Care Clinic Honda Civic), who unfortunately developed a problem on the car and could not take part in the race itself.
In Class C Tony Hyams (Building Code Ford Fiesta) celebrated his return to SuperHatch with a pole position, narrowly beating Craig Priestley who was sharing his car with Trevor Stringer. (Tactical Fluid/Citrine Designs Ford Laser)
Out of an impressive list of 55 entries, 52 cars managed to start the race. Sandro & Ayrton Godinho (New Line Projects Golf MK1), Hilton van Nieuwenhuizen & Robert Grieve (ASAP Peugeot 207), Andre Dannhauser & Tyler Scott (Pro Auto Rubber/Jestik Opel Corsa) and Samuel Gerber & Zane van Zyl (Credit Guarantee Peugeot 206), all had issues prior to qualifying and had to start at the back of the grid.
As always the Phakisa 200 had a rolling start, and everybody made it through the first lap safely, except for Ishmael Baloyi & Chad Ten Doeschate (TAR Honda Civic) who connected a spinning Polo. The Class B competitors who had to start at the back of the field started working their way through the field, and the race was on.
In Class A Jono du Toit was not waiting on anybody, and immediately showed his intentions on lap 2 by breaking the lap record set in 2013 by more than a second. Brett Garland maintained a good pace in second position, and Ian Kotwal, sharing with Davison (Opel SuperBoss), got into a rhythm in third.
Jono du Toit handed over the driving duties to big brother Mark, who then just kept on putting in the fast laps to secure the win. In the pit stop the Davison/Kotwal team got it all perfect and managed to leapfrog the Garland/Kruger combination, bringing a spluttering SuperBoss home to an impressive second place, narrowly beating Garland and Kruger.
In class B it was all about the team of Nic Martin and Shaun Besteman. They just had the perfect day getting it all just right, finishing second overall in the SuperHatch category, and winning the Class B race by an impressive 2 laps. A splendid drive by Samuel Gerber and Zane van Zyl saw them finishing second after starting at the back, with van Zyl also breaking the lap record set back in 2013.
The team of Andre Dannhauser and Tyler Scott also had to start at the back of the grid, but managed to fight their way through to the third spot on the podium.
In Class C the Team of Tony Hyams and Juan van der Walt showed a clean pair of heels to the competition and had a faultless drive to win the class by 4 laps. Rookie Freddy Watkins had an impressive drive in his first ever race to finish a remarkable second in his Polo Playa, beating out the team of Priestly and Stringer who finished in third.
As always the Phakisa 200 is not just about the 200km race, but also the Index of Performance which rewards consistent lap times and clever strategy.
Nic Martin and Shaun Besteman had it all work out perfectly and won the overall Index classification for SuperHatch.
Second place went to the du Toit brothers, and third to Alex Marques who did a stellar job taking on the full race on his own.
The next event will take place at Zwartkops Raceway on the 12th of August as part of the Sasol Race Day See you there
Report by: Andre Dannhauser