Volkswagen Cup full of surprises

Run Ride Dive Motorsport

The Engen Volkswagen Cup championship delivered an exciting first round of competition at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday.

The drivers campaigned the opening event of the Super Series – sparing no quarter in true Engen Volkswagen Cup tradition. Typical of the unpredictability of this series, there were a few surprises on race day.

Mathew Hodges (M3 – ITR Africa / 959 Panelbeaters / Dickron Motors), a regular in the series contests the 2014 season as a Master for the first time. Any racer older than 27 falls into this category and a good season could see Hodges become the first Master to win the overall championship. Hodges produced the third-fastest qualifying time, behind the quickest pair on track, Daniel Rowe (11 – Ferodo Racing) and Dewald Brummer (2 – MAD Racing / GPM).

Hodges’s pace on track, and subsequent pole position grid draw, resulted in him winning the first race and he went on to claim fifth in race two – putting him third overall in the championship standings. Rowe’s qualifying time, and grid position of second saw him claim third in race one after an on-track battle with Brummer. Race two is where he showed his talent, winning from a sixth place grid start – his first victory in the series.

For Brummer, a great start to the season and second place in race one saw his fortunes rather different in the second event when a fuel pump problem pushed him from his pole position start right down the order to a 17th place finish.

Zwartkops was the first foray into this category for 14 year old Sheldon van der Linde (16 – Ferodo Racing), following in the footsteps of his older sibling Kelvin who won the championship title in 2011. Van der Linde put on a good qualifying performance and promptly found himself in the top six draw for grid positions.

Engen Volkswagen Cup racing can be a pressure cooker out on track and newcomers often find themselves slipping down the order. For Van der Linde, this was not the case. He did especially well in the second race to claim second place, pressuring his teammate, Rowe, at every possible moment, even briefly taking the lead at one point.

The first event was also not without action for Van der Linde as some tough racing with Shaun La Resérvée (7 – Alpine Motors / compendium insurance Group / Xtreme Car rental) resulted in Van der Linde’s driver-side window being shattered out on track.

With very wet race conditions for that second race, it makes these achievements all the more impressive, with drivers pushing hard to keep their pace up, but having to be very careful through the corners, conditions which saw many a front-wheel drive Volkswagen Polo Vivo race car looking more like a rear-wheel drive drift car.

Other newcomers to the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship on Saturday were Christopher Shorter 33 – Hollard Insurance), Michael Gibson (MAD Racing / GPM), Shayur Harpal (26 – Ferodo Racing), Anthony Lessing (22 – C.Track / Mobax) and John Craig (19 – Table View coachworks). Each had varying levels of success, but the start of the season proved successful with every starter on track at the end of the eight laps there to cross the finish line.

With Hodges’s the fastest Master out on track, it was left to Trevor Bland (M6 – PG Glass) – another newcomer to the Masters category within the series – to do battle against Juan Gerber (M8 – Carfind.co.za) for second place. Defending champion in the Masters, Eddie Rodrigues (M1 – SEW Eurodrive), had to settle for running way down the order as ill-health took its toll on his performance. Round two at Killarney will no doubt see Rodrigues eager to get into the thick of the racing action and begin his title defence in earnest.

Run Ride Dive Motorsport

Photos: Andre Laubscher

RESULTS:
RACE ONE:
1.    Dewald Brummer (2 – MAD Racing / GPM)
2.    Daniel Rowe (11 – Ferodo Racing)
3.    Sheldon van der Linde (16 – Ferodo Racing)

RACE TWO:
1.    Daniel Rowe (11 – Ferodo Racing)
2.    Sheldon van der Linde (16 – Ferodo Racing)
3.    Jano van der Westhuizen (15 – Kwikfix)

OVERALL:
1.    Daniel Rowe (11 – Ferodo Racing)
2.    Sheldon van der Linde (16 – Ferodo Racing)
3.    Jano van der Westhuizen (15 – Kwikfix)

MASTERS:
1.    Mathew Hodges (M3 – ITR Africa / 959 Panelbeaters / Dickron Motors)
2.    Juan Gerber (M8 – Carfind.co.za)
3.    Trevor Bland (M6 – PG Glass)

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