Engen Volkswagen Cup champion dominates

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THE Engen Volkswagen Cup racers tackled the first round of their national championship at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, February 21. From the outset, defending champion Sheldon van der Linde (1 – Champion) stamped his absolute authority on proceedings.

“Changes to the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship to keep it fresh and relevant proved themselves here at round one of the season,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “The Engen Volkswagen Cup racers competed in Volkswagen Polo Vivo GT guise for the first time, the field raced hard on their new Dunlop tyres, the three-race format provided two short action-packed races and a longer feature race as well as a two-box draw kept everyone on their toes when Sheldon drew pole position. In all a very successful start to the new season.”

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Race one’s starting grid was determined by the draw, the race two grid was created as a reverse grid of the first race’s finishing positions for the top six and the third race grid saw racers line up according to their second-fastest qualifying time.

Starting right from the qualifying session, Van der Linde took the lead by posting the fastest time. He followed this up with a pole position draw to start first on the grid in race one and then proceeded to win each of the three races on the day.

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With the changes in the championship format this season, the Engen Volkswagen Cup competitors had to prepare themselves for a three-race first round to the season. The first two races were six laps each, run consecutively with a third race of 12 laps later in the day.

Since the defending champion had already claimed the race victories, the fight for second place in race one was between Tasmin Pepper (31 – PG Glass / Plastomark) and Mathew Hodges (M1 – Makopano / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters), with Pepper winning the battle and Hodges coming in third – but also the first Master home.
In race two Shaun La Réserveé (9 – Alpine Motors / Oakley / Compendium Insurance) was the racer to take the second place finish, with Juan Gerber (M8 – Haupt Racing) the first of the Masters across the finish line and taking third place in the process.

Race three saw Pepper again step up to take second place after 12 hard-fought laps of racing with Gerber successfully defending his third place finish of race two against Hodges to make it another third-place finish. This put Van der Linde at the top of the overall standings, with Pepper in second place and La Réserveé in third for the day.

The Masters overall win for round one of the season was taken by Hodges with Gerber in second place and Trevor Bland (M2 – PG Glass / Alpine Motors) claiming third place thanks to an eighth place finish in race one followed by two fifth place finishes in races two and three.

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Gerber’s performance at Zwartkops ensured him second place in the Masters, as well as seeing him awarded the Driver of the Day for the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship – with a R1000 purse for his efforts. The series also welcomed three new racers at round one this season, Lyle Ramsay (16 – Monroe Racing), Bradley Liebenberg (12 – Ferodo) and Connor Rogers (17 – MWRS).

Round two of the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship takes place at Killarney in Cape Town on Saturday, April 11.
RESULTS:
RACE ONE:
1. Sheldon van der Linde – 1 (Champion)
2. Tasmin Pepper – 31 (PG Glass / Plastomark)
3. Mathew Hodges – M1 (Makopano / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters)
RACE TWO:
1. Sheldon van der Linde – 1 (Champion)
2. Shaun La Réserveé – 9 (Alpine Motors / Oakley / Compendium Insurance)
3. Juan Gerber – M8 (Haupt Racing)
RACE THREE:
1. Sheldon van der Line – 1 (Champion)
2. Tasmin Pepper – 31 (PG Glass / Plastomark)
3. Juan Gerber – M8 (Haupt Racing)

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