Old hands chase the rookies at first Engen Volkswagen Cup round
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.
Overall VW Cup round one winner Keagan Masters, cocks a wheel around Zwartkops Raceway.