Engen Volkswagen Cup racers tackle Polo racing in India
TWO of South Africa's Engen Volkswagen Cup competitors grabbed the opportunity to show off their racing skills in the Indian version of the local single-make series which is powered by Volkswagen Polo Vivo race cars.
The Kruger siblings, Jeffrey and Robyn, who race under the IndyOil colours and completed the South African season in seventh and 11th place respectively, set off on a whirlwind trip to compete in the penultimate round of the Volkswagen Polo R Cup India championship. The event took place from Friday to Sunday, 30 November to 2nd December, at the Buddh International Race Circuit near India's capital city, New Delhi.
For Jeffrey the event saw him right at the sharp end of the field from the outset. Friday's practice session saw him posting the fastest time for the field – with the same result in the second session. Qualifying on Saturday produced similar results, this time with Jeffrey posting a time 1.5 seconds faster than his nearest rival.
“It was a Festival of Speed-type of race meeting,” says Jeffrey. “There were many different kinds of racing taking place and there was a very good vibe at the event. The main grandstands were full on race day – and spectators paid no entry fee to get in either.”
The Krugers took part in the practice session on Friday, the qualifying on Saturday and two races on the Sunday.
“We raced on Sunday and there was a podium ceremony and press conference afterwards as well,” says Jeffrey. “There was a very professional atmosphere at the circuit, it was very F1 in its approach.”
Sunday's racing saw Jeffrey leading the first race right up until the final lap. With a lead of nearly a lap, a technical issue saw his Volkswagen Polo go into limp mode, robbing him of power. He completed the race in second place having been overtaken on his way to the finish .
An inverted grid for race two saw Jeffrey set off in seventh, crossing the line for third place by the time the chequered flag dropped. In the two races Robyn was 10th and eighth.
The Engen Volkswagen Cup series places high demands on competitors in terms of skill and dedication, with the Volkswagen Polo Vivos that make up the series combining 2.0 litre engines with an absence of driver assistance for a dynamic racing experience.
“The cars there are very different to what we race here in South Africa,” says Jeffrey. “They have ABS, power steering and DSG, lots of driver aids. They aren't much quicker though because they understeer quite a lot compared to the local cars. You are also very limited in what changes can be made.”
The Krugers returned to South Africa with two trophies for their racing efforts, won by Jeffrey in each of the races, and rather more racing experience thanks to their first opportunity for exposure in an international racing environment.