Old hands chase the rook­ies at first En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup round

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

ZWARTKOPS Race­way hosted round one of the En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup cham­pi­onship on Satur­day. Over three races, the open­ing bat­tles of the sea­son took place as th­ese com­peti­tors rubbed mir­rors and fend­ers search­ing for their share of the points.

The first race vic­tory for 2016 was claimed by Chris Shorter ( 33 — Payen/ Hol­lard/ Turn1) with Kea­gan Masters ( 18 — Cham­pion) and Juan Ger­ber ( M8 — Glas­fit/ Ctrack/ XCT) fill­ing out the rest of the podium. Ger­ber was the first of the Masters com­peti­tors to ap­pear on the podium for the sea­son — but not the last for the day.

Lap one of that first race saw a three- car “howzit” be­tween Brad Bed­ing­field ( 23, Nashua), Justin Oates ( 44, Glas­fit/ Ctrack/ XCT) and Kuda Vazhure ( 19, VW Mo­tor­sport). Bed­ing­field car­ried a bit too much speed into the fi­nal cor­ner of that first lap, caus­ing a tangle be­tween the three.

Race two saw the che­quered flag taken by Trevor Bland ( M2, Uni­ver­sal Health Care/ Phoenix) with Masters in se­cond and Shorter in third spot. Bland’s vic­tory saw him the se­cond Mas­ter on the podium, but there was no keep­ing Masters or Shorter off the podium at that first race day.

The pole starter for the se­cond race, the young Clin­ton Bezuiden­hout ( 38, Uni­ver­sal Health­care/ Phoenix Signs), didn’t fin­ish that race when a wa­ter pipe came off his en­gine af­ter some ro­bust rac­ing be­tween him­self and Jurie Swart ( 39, Ferodo).

Third and fi­nal race re­sults for the day put Masters back at the top of the podium, with Bradley Lieben­berg ( 12, Ferodo) be­tween him and third- placed Shorter.

Those race re­sults were enough to put Masters in first place over­all with Shorter se­cond and Ger­ber in third spot.

Masters’ over­all win for the day sees him move into the cham­pi­onship lead af­ter round one — a per­for­mance that had started right at the be­gin­ning of the day.

Bat­tles raged through­out the field dur­ing the third race — in­clud­ing a father/ son bat­tle be­tween Gary van Heer­den ( M4, Nutritech/ Mo­tul) and Ethan van Heer­den ( 21, Nutritech/ Mo­tul) with Gary win­ning, de­spite his son claim­ing that he kept get­ting in the way and slow­ing him down.

At the start of the race day, the top qual­i­fy­ing po­si­tion was claimed by Masters with just the nar­row­est of mar­gins over Shorter and Lieben­berg.

The qual­i­fy­ing times were so close that the first five com­peti­tors were sep­a­rated by a half se­cond and the top 12 by a se­cond.

Masters went on to post the fastest lap times in each race of the day. “This was the first out­ing for the new En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup car,” said Mike Rowe, head of Volk­swa­gen Mo­tor­sport.

“Based on the Volk­swa­gen Polo TSI, we knew the car would be quicker and that im­proved han­dling would cre­ate in­creased com­pe­ti­tion.

“The race day re­sults have proved our ex­pec­ta­tions ex­actly right and we are look­ing ahead to an ex­cit­ing sea­son.”

Driver ages for the 2016 sea­son range from 14 for Clin­ton Bezuiden­hout to 51 for Jo­han Pre­to­rius and even a driver from Mau­ri­tius in Si­mon Need.

Round two of the 2016 En­gen Volk­swa­gen Cup cham­pi­onship will see the com­peti­tors head to Kil­lar­ney in Cape Town in midApril.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Over­all VW Cup round one win­ner Kea­gan Masters, cocks a wheel around Zwartkops Race­way.

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