The 2015 Comsol VW Challenge made its way down to Port Elizabeth for the season’s away race which was held at the Aldo Scribante circuit on 13 June. For Rory Atkinson (Comsol Polo), Nic Clarke (Central Technical Services Polo), and Jacques Smith (Triplicon Construction Polo) the trip down to the coast was well worth it as they all emerged with two heat wins in their respective classes.
A cool wind was blowing when the morning qualifying session took place, keeping the newly laid track surface temperatures low. Atkinson and James Hurley (The Starter Pack Company Polo) battled it out at the head of the class A field, Atkinson taking pole by just 0.145 seconds. Waldie Meintjies (Marty’s Body Spray Polo) and Iain Stevenson (Comsol Polo) filled the second row of the grid. In class B championship leader Clarke took pole by just over a second from Deon Slabbert who was out in the Sex Trader Polo normally piloted by Darren Nathan. Andre Calitz (AC Honed Group Polo) had his best qualifying session of the season coming home in third with Mile Stewart (Grandmark International Polo) just eight thousandths of a second behind. Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) took class C from Smith, Zander Roos (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo) and Shaun Crous (X35 Energy Drink Polo).
The 2.48 km long Aldo Scribante circuit lends itself to tight racing and it proved the case in the first heat. Atkinson got way from the start well to lead the charging class A pack but Hurley was passed by both Meintjies and Stevenson. It took him a couple of laps to get back on to Atkinson’s bumped but he could not find a way past the Comsol Polo, finishing just over six tenths of a second behind. Stevenson had an off track excursion that dropped him down the field which left Meintjies and Devon Piazza Musso (Piazza Motorsport Genie Racing Polo) to battle it out for third. The Piazza Musson got ahead with a couple of laps to go and held on to take the final podium position. Gavin Ross (Norbrake Polo) and Derick Smalberger (Sabertek Tyremart Beetle) rounded out the top six.
Brad Hall (HellermannTyton Racing Polo) had a lighting start in class B to grab the early lead from Slabbert, Clarke and Calitz but an off track excursion dropped him down the field. He fought back to fifth by the time the flag came out. With Hall out of the way Clarke it took Clarke only a couple of laps to take his place at the head of the field, going on to win by almost four seconds. Slabbert came home in second ahead of Mile Stewart third ahead of brother Daine in the second Grandmark International Polo. Andre Needham (Polo) was sixth.
In class C Smith had a relatively easy run at the head of the field, winning by two and a half seconds from van Zyl. Philip Croeser (ATE Polo) has an impressive run off the line and was running third in the early stages of the race before track conditions caught him out. His off-track excursions allowed Zander Roos through into third. Shaun Crous came home fourth with Deon Crous (Golf) and Chris Dale (Dale Automation Golf) rounding out the top six.
The second race class A battle at the head of the field was between Hurley and Meintjies at the front of the field but contact between the two saw Meintjies drop down the running order. Hurley continued and was first past the flag but he was deemed to have caused the collision which, in terms of the Comsol VW Challenge rules, saw him penalized and place behind Meintjies in sixth place in the race results. Hurley’s penalty gave the race win to Atkinson ahead of Piazza Musson and Stevenson. Wayne Crous brought his X35 Energy Drink Polo home in fourth.
Clarke had another comfortable win in class B but the ballet for second was decided by couple of car lengths at the flag, Mile Stewart finishing ahead of Calitz, Hall, Daine Stewart and Slabbert rounded out the top six.
Smith had an easy win in class C after Zander Roos’ race came to a premature end just after half distance. Simon Levin (Auto ECU Golf) had his best race finish taking second just ahead of Deon Crous. Van Zyl finished fourth with Sam Dale (Dale Automation Golf) getting the better of Dad, Chis, to claim fifth.
Overall victory in class A went to Atkinson from Piazza Musso and Stevenson. Clarke claimed class B with Mile Stewart second ahead of Slabbert. Defending class C champion got his season going with the class C win with van Zyl and Shaun Crous in second and third respectively.
The next outing for the Comsol VW Challenge is on 8 August at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria.
Francois van Zyl
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