THE South African Single-Seaters started their 2015 season in dramatic fashion at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday. On-track contact, close racing and even the weather all factored into the action on the day.
Starting off the new season, Julian van der Watt (42 – Investchem Mygale SJ08) showed the rest of the racers how to get around Zwartkops Raceway in the quickest time. That qualifying session was no pedestrian affair though. Van der Watt was just 0.088 of a second ahead of rival Matthew Merton (5 – Mygale). For a half-second gap between the qualifiers to emerge covered the top six racers and a full second could only be found by running down the list of the fastest 11!
The SASS competitors in their Formula Ford Duratec open-wheel race cars were clearly determined to start the year off at pace, with Van der Watt right at the sharp end of the field. Under starters orders for race one, Van der Watt had the benefit of the front of the grid thanks to his qualifying with Merton in second. When the flag dropped 10 laps later the pole man claimed his first win of the season with Robert Wolk (41 – Chemical Logistics Mygale) moving up from third on the grid.
With Wolk in second place, Merton slipped to the third of the podium steps, finding himself under the eye of Dewald Brummer (11 – MAD Racing Mygale SJ09) who finished the first race of the season just out of the top three.
Before the second race, the heavens opened and drenched Zwartkops. The heavy rains put the remainder of the race day in doubt and it was finally left to each of the categories to decide if they would continue.
For the SASS competitors a second race was definitely on the cards with the field changing to wet tyres. One exception t this change was Werner Scholtz (3 – Investchem / Motorvia Mygale SJ08). Scholtz opted to gamble on the track drying out sufficiently during the race that slicks would ultimately be the quicker tyre choice.
Unfortunately this gamble was not to pay off for Scholtz who had to settle for finishing last.
Race two also saw the leaderboard change quite dramatically to race one. Wolk featured again, this time finishing in first place – a finishing position he has achieved on many occasions and likely where he will feature again several times this season. Behind Wolk it was Nicholas van Weely (1 – Magnificent Paints & Hardware Van Diemen) the 2014 Formula Volkswagen champion who finished in second place, making a big jump from seventh spot in race one, with Brummer taking his first podium result.
Van der Watt and Merton slipped down the order in that second race, opening the door to Dean Venter (77 – Turnfab Engineering / Manitou Mygale SJ09) and Keagan Masters (44 – Performance Masters Mygale SJ08) to take fourth and fifth place respectively.
The internal Over 50 and Ladies category of SASS sees Rick Morris (8 – Investchem Mygale SJ99) take the lead with Donny Lamola (14 – Investchem Mygale SJ03) in second place.
The weather played a significant role in the outcome of the first round of the season for the Formula Ford Duratec racers who now turn their eyes to Killarney Raceway in the Western Cape. Here the open-wheel competitors will tackle their second round of the season on Saturday, April 11, where the weather might again choose to play a part in the race day action.
Until that second event, Wolk will enjoy an early overall lead in the championship stakes with Brummer holding second spot and Van der Watt in third place. While these three competitors are the early leaders in the 2015 championship, they will all be racing with targets on their backs in the Cape as the rest of the field focus their attentions and efforts into overturning the status quo.