ACTION ON TRACK: The 2017 Bold Marine GTi Challenge season opener was a closely contested affair.Image: Reynard Gelderblom
Cape Town - The Killarney International Raceway crowd were treated to a close and action packed thriller as the 2017 Bold Marine GTi Challenge championship got underway on Saturday, February 18.
Although the series will sadly miss some very prominent names like Nian du Toit and Scott Hayes during this season, 22 of Cape Town’s most talented drivers got the championship started in fine style.
Top drawer battle for Class A honours
Although Class A only consisted of four entries, there was no lack of action at the front of the pack. Jano van der Westhuizen and Jurie Swart spent most of the first race in a head-tot-head showdown. During the second heat the pair opened up a significant gap over the rest of the field as they battled it out.
In both heats however, it was Van der Westhuizen who emerged victorious to claim overall honours for the day along with pole position in qualifying. Swart had to settle for second, but if the opening round was a sign of what’s lying ahead for the remainder of the year – then we’re certainly in for a spectacular battle between them.
Jano van der Westhuizen had Jurie Swart in his mirrors the entire day on route to victory. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
Shane du Toit suffered a drivetrain failure and consequent early retirement in the first race while John Craig was excluded from the starting line-up after qualifying following a technical infringement. His VW Polo was found to be 5mm below the minimum ride height.
Although upset at the time for losing out on the track time in a car that’s still being fine-tuned, the former Engen VW Cup campaigner accepted the decision. Both du Toit and Craig will be eager to have their cars ready in time for the next round to join this battle up front.
A two horse fight in Class B
Jacques Geldenhuys had the better of Eden Thompson on the day, despite the latter being the quickest in qualifying. Geldenhuys made a good start in the opening race and took the lead with a blinding move on Thompson’s inside.
Further back it was Mario Roux who celebrated his move from Class A to Class B with a podium. Wayne Field had an eventful first race while mixing it up with the Class C front runners, but brought the car home in a creditable fourth place at the end of the day ahead of Earl Josephs.
Jacques Geldenhuys made an early pass for the lead and never looked back. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
Young guns steal the show in Class C
Reigning champion Bryan Morgan knew he would have a tough fight on his hands during 2017. With the likes of Marco Busi and Christopher Swart joining the Class C ranks through the course of the previous season – all eyes were on the proverbial brat pack for the season opener.
Busi dished up a host brilliant drives throughout the day to take pole position and both race wins ahead of Morgan. The latter didn’t make it easy for Busi at any point in time and used his experience to try and force the young man into making a mistake. Third position went to Swart after achieving that position in both heats.
Behind them Jaco Lambert claimed fourth place for the day following two races where he kept his nose clean from the drama that went on around him. Jarred Simpson claimed fifth place overall following two very respectable drives.
The first race saw him taking fourth place with a misfiring car and to add his drama; Race 2 saw him having to battle his way back up through field following a first-corner incident involving himself, Dillon Joubert, Alfie van Zyl and Giordano Lupini.
Marco Busi kept his cool and beat a persistent Bryan Morgan to the flag. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
But the real star of the class, the race and very deserving WPMC Driver of the Day was the young man tying up sixth position in the overall standings. Former karter and younger brother of Marco Busi, Dario made his main circuit and saloon car debut on the day at the age of 15.
Although the youngster was nervous at the start of the day, he didn’t once show any sign of fear during the races. The first race saw him record a respectable seventh place finish, but in the second race he put the hammer down to record a fourth place – with third place Swart in his sights.
Another rookie, Brad Wadeley, took seventh place overall ahead of Gideon Serfontein, Dillon Jearey, Gert du Plessies and Joubert. An exceptional performance saw rookie Dario Busi take the Driver of the Day award. Image: Reynard Gelderblom