The Investchem Formula 1600 championship marked the mid-point of their 2017 season at Zwartkops Raceway on Friday, June 16. This Youth Day event saw Stuart White (8 – Fantastic Racing), fresh from a round of the FFSA (Fédération Française du Sport Automobile) Formula 4 Academy in Spa Francorchamps, put some fast laps on the time sheets during qualifying, to grab the first pole position of the weekend.
Cameron O’Connor (93 – Repro Supplies / Racing Factors) was just 0.233 of a second behind White when it came to qualifying – while the championship leader, Julian van der Watt (42 – Race Driver SA) started the first race in third place.
Qualifying was a close affair, with the first seven competitors all posting qualifying times inside of a second, setting the scene for close battles during the day’s racing.
White, battling with a clutch problem during race one, fell to Van der Watt as he charged to the finish line for a first race victory while Brad Beningfield (46 – General Energy Systems) moved from a fifth place at the start to cross the finish line in third, behind Van der Watt and White.
O’Connor slipped to fifth place at the finish from a second place start, with handling issues that cost him time out on track. Another of the Investchem Formula 1600 competitors that had handling problems during race one was Allen Meyer (15 – Investchem) which saw him slide from eighth in qualifying – and the fastest in Class B – to an 11th place finish overall and third in the category.
Ahead of Meyer, Ian Schofield (10 – Investchem) took the first race win for Class B, followed by Nick Adcock (11 – Fantastic Racing / Aid Call 247) with Meyer on the third podium step.
With the race two grid again featuring White, O’Connor and Van der Watt as the top three starters, it set the scene for another battle between them to decide the race winner. At the end of the ten laps, it was the championship leader, Van der Watt, who had pushed through to lead the field across the finish line for the second time.
It wasn’t without work on his part though as he had to fight both O’Connor and White. With White suffering a faulty accelerator, it was up to O’Connor to keep the championship leader fighting for his place. For two-thirds of the race, O’Connor fought off the attentions of Van der Watt, finally losing ground when he ran wide through turn four and opening the door to let his opponent through.
Liam Pienaar (67 – Phoenix Jewellers) crossed the line for third place in this second race, managing to keep both Brad Beninfield (46 – General Energy Systems) and Alex Gillespie (50 – ERP Trucking Components) who were hot on his heels.
With his setup changed for race two, Meyer could pressure Schofield in Class B. He crossed the finished line just 0.232 of a second behind Schofield after the 10 laps.
The Investchem Formula 1600 racers will compete in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, July 15, as they start the run to the closing stages of the championship season for this year.