Rac­ing on the edge

Grocott's Mail - - MOTORING -

My 2016 rac­ing sea­son was a jour­ney of ex­treme highs and ex­treme lows. With the backing of Nashua for the sec­ond year, I be­gan my first rac­ing sea­son in the top -flight tin-top cat­e­gory in South Africa, the En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup.

Round One saw a three-heat race for­mat at the Zwartkops Race­way in Pre­to­ria, which came as a se­ri­ous wake-up call for me when I suf­fered a mas­sive shunt on the first lap of the first race. This ham­pered my fol­low­ing races due to the dam­aged car and over­heat­ing is­sues.

The Cape Town’s Kil­lar­ney In­ter­na­tional Race track hosted round two of the cham­pi­onship and saw my Nashua Polo, af­ter an­other day of bump­ing and barg­ing, fin­ish­ing an amaz­ing fourth in the Ju­nior cat­e­gory in only my sec­ond of­fi­cial race.

The third round of the cham­pi­onship was tech­ni­cally my home round, tak­ing place just over 100km from my Gra­ham­stown res room – in Port El­iz­a­beth at Aldo Scrib­ante.

My car was in­cred­i­bly fast dur­ing qualifying, putting me in the top five for all three races.

Un­for­tu­nately due to my own er­rors and a lit­tle help from other driv­ers, I was un­able to chal­lenge for the top places.

Round four was at the his­toric East Lon­don Grand Prix Cir­cuit, where our Po­los reached speeds of over 220km/h, which is se­ri­ously scary in what is es­sen­tially a road car.

The races proved to be a chal­lenge, but af­ter two long­fought bat­tles, I was able to fin­ish in­side the top 10.

The fifth and sixth round fol­lowed the same pat­tern of big bumper cars, with a ninth in Pre­to­ria and a sixth place in Cape Town.

The Polo Cup cat­e­gory was one of the first to race on the newly re­done Kyalami Grand Prix cir­cuit.

The sev­enth race of the year was the most dif­fi­cult week­end of my rac­ing ca­reer, plagued by me­chan­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal is­sues. I didn't com­plete prac­tice or qualifying rounds for the races and the car was com­pleted only min­utes be­fore the race start.

I started 19th on the grid but I was able to fight my way through the field in the 10 laps of car­nage to fin­ish a strong ninth with a smile on my face, af­ter a tense, chal­leng­ing week­end.

Af­ter the events of the Kyalami round, we de­cided to move away from Po­los back into a sin­gle seater, with the In­vestchem For­mula 1600s, the fastest Na­tional rac­ing cars in Africa.

The race at Zwartkops saw me fin­ish­ing third on a rain­beaten track, with next to no prac­tice in the new car.

This re­sult is a huge con­fi­dence boost af­ter pre­vi­ous weeks and I hope to con­tinue this form in the new car dur­ing the 2017 sea­son if I am able to find a spon­sor for the year.

To a good year of rac­ing on the edge!

Photo: Sup­plied

Brad Ben­ing­field in ac­tion in the sin­gle seater race.

Photo: Sup­plied

Brad Ben­ing­field cel­e­brates a good race.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.