Young & old star in two brilliant races
It was a stunning blend of good old experience and youthful exuberance as the 2019 Investchem Formula 1600 kicked off with a couple of spectacular races at Dezzi Raceway near Port Shepstone on the KZN South Coast on Saturday. Experienced single seater veteran and last year’s runner-up Nichols van Weely delivering a fine opening race win and youth in Andrew Rackstraw taking two pole positions and winning his maiden race in the second heat.
It was clear that the young blood was on a charge through Friday practice, but that was underlined in qualifying when Rackstraw and Liam Pienaar delivered brilliant laps on a wet track to close off the front row ahead of van Weely (Magnificent Paints & Hardware van Diemen), reigning champion Stuart White (Fantastic Racing Mygale) and 2018 third man Scott Temple (Road to Race/1st Race Matt Nash Motorsport Mygale).
David Jermy (Beauty Factory Fantastic Racing Mygale) headed up Class B in fifth ahead of another young gun Tiago Rebelo (TRMS Brian Kruger Mygale), a most impressive best rookie in karting lass Ivana Cetinich, Andrew Schofield (Investchem Mygale), Siyabonga Mankonkwana (Investchem Brian Kruger Racing Mygale) and Alex Gillespie (ERP Trucking Components Matt Nash Motorsport Mygale) closing off the top ten.
Gerard Geldenhuys (Abacus Divisions Mygale) was next up ahead of Ian Schofield (Investchem Mygale), rookies Zac Edwards (SCM Brian Kruger Racing Mygale) and Alex Vos (Ecurie Zoo Magnificent Paints van Diemen) and Allen Meyer (Investchem van Diemen).
Rackstraw made a great start but overshot the first corner of the first race to be collected by Ian Schofield in the ensuing confusion, to put Schofield out with a bent rear wishbone. Alex Gillespie similarly endured an early incident to drop him down the pack as he struggled with a deranged suspension, while Rackstraw dropped to the back to begin an impressive fight back through the field.
That left van Weely in the lead and driving out of his shoes as he dealt with Temple’s closest attention, with Liam Pienaar third ahead of White. David Jermy was meanwhile making it just as difficult for Andrew Schofield, Rebello and Mankonkwana to find a way past him in fifth. Schofield ultimately attempted a move but could not pull it off, costing him a couple of places instead.
Pienaar then made a small error on the final tour, which was enough for White to find a gap and pass him for third, but nothing was going to stop van Weely from storming to the win from Temple, White and Pienaar, as Class B winner Jermy held Rebello, Mankonkwana and Andrew Schofield off for fifth.
Ivana Cetinich meanwhile delivered a fine debut performance to hold the resurgent Rackstraw off for ninth ahead of Gerard Geldenhuys, the struggling Gillespie, Alex Vos, Allen Meyer and Zac Edwards.
Rackstraw once again started on pole position for the second race, but van Weely delivered another of his customary demon starts to lead into turn 1, only to become involved in an incident that spelled his demise from the race. This time it was young Rackstraw who found himself in a lead he initially consolidated before keeping the pursuing White and Temple at bay to score a delighted maiden Investchem Formula 1600 win.
Siyabonga Mankonkwana ended fourth from Ivana Cetinich, who once again handled herself brilliantly using her karting experience to best effect deliver a brilliant fifth in heat 2 on her Investchem Formula 1600 debut. Andrew Schofield drove a fine race, picking off several cars before taking a while to pass David Jermy en route to sixth from David Jermy, Alex Gillespie, Gerard Geldenhuys and Ian Schofield, who still seemed to be suffering from his first race damage.
Liam Pienaar was next up from Zac Edwards and Alex Vos, while van Weely and Rebelo retired and Allen Meyer did not start the second race.
Stuart White took the overall win for the day from Scott Temple, Andrew Rackstraw, Siyabonga Mankonkwana, Andrew Schofield and Liam Pienaar, while Ivana Cetinich made a brilliant debut with the Class B win for the day ahead of David Jermy and Ian Schofield.
Dezzi Raceway proved a brilliant venue to start the 2019 Investchem Formula 1600 championship — the racing was fantastic to watch, tight with many overtaking moves and action throughout as the field put on a great show for an appreciative KwaZulu Natal audience. The series now heads for Zwartkops Raceway for Round 2 Saturday 6 April.