When the wheels started turning on Friday at Zwartkops Raceway for the Investchem Formula 1600s, Julian van der Watt (42 – Investchem) proved amongst the quickest on track. In the qualifying session on Saturday morning, he put in a laptime of 1:03.918 to top the timesheets and claim pole position for race one.

With Van der Watt’s performance in 2015, he is likely to be a front runner this season, but he is also facing pressure from Bevan Williams (36 – MAD Racing / FUCHS Oils) who appears to have a “no-prisoners” approach to racing this season. Williams was second in qualifying (by 0.245 of a second) and this set up a battle for the first race that did not disappoint motorsport fans.

Van der Watt and Williams fought for every inch of track position right up the last lap of that first race. With Williams experiencing braking issues in the final moments of the race, he ran out of space in the final corners, clipping Van der Watt and sending them both off-track, leaving Werner Scholtz (6 – Investchem) to fly across the finish line for an unexpected victory.

For Scholtz, the second race provided an unexpected result when his Formula 1600 simply ground to a halt in the very first lap, eliminating him from the competition.

While Scholtz was left to watch from the sidelines, the first-race battle between Van der Watt and Williams resumed – with Van der Watt the first of the pair to cross the finish line after the 10 lap race.

The only racer on the day to appear on the podium every time on Saturday was Dean Venter (77 – MAD Racing/Fuchs Oils/Ango Trucks). Venter finished in second spot in race one and third in the second race to finish first overall for the day. This consistency gives him an edge over his rivals going into round two.

Consistency also played a key role in the performance of Alex Gillespie (50 – Mbotyi River Lodge). Gillespie was fourth in each of the two races and this boosted him to second place overall for the day.

Rick Morris (8 – Investchem), recently returned from competing at Phillip Island in Australia, stamped his authority on the “Over 50s and Ladies” internal class this weekend with consistent top 6 finishes overall. This pushed him up to third place overall for the day – despite suffering steering and handling issues in race one which caused him to leave the circuit and lose two track positions in the process.

For Brendan Tracey (110 – Investchem) the first round of the season was also his first round behind the wheel of an Investchem Formula 1600 car. While not featuring at the top of the timesheets for the weekend, Tracey still produced some good laptimes during the practise and qualifying sessions, which should see him rise as the season continues.

The Investchem F1600 field started the season on a sad note with the passing of long-time competitor and friend of single-seater racing, Richard Bonnischen. Bonnischen’s unexpected loss to the series left a quiet spot in the pits and a gap on the starting grid that could not be missed. The field worked on overcoming their loss to motorsport, remembering the good memories and continuing in the spirit and tradition of competition between friends.

Round two of Investchem F1600 championship will take the field to Killarney Raceway in Cape Town for an event on Saturday, April 16, where another two races will take place.