Graham Hepburn leads race 1

Graham Hepburn leads race 1

Graham Hepburn got the defence of his Investchem Formula Ford Kent championship off to a great start when he powered his Suburban Body Shop Ray to two heat wins in the opening round of the championship at Kyalami on Saturday, 7 March.

He did not, however, have things all his own way. A misfire in qualifying left him down the grid in fifteenth position with a lot of work to do. The morning qualifying session saw Andrew Horne (Xena Chemicals / Budd Power Royale) emerge the quickest just over a tenth of a second quicker than David Jermy (Matt Nash Motorsport Van Diemen). Jermy was relegated to the back of the grid after being found to be underweight at the post session check. This promoted 2013 champion Ian Schofield (Investchem Mygale) to second place with Jeff Gable (Taylon Motorsport Van Diemen) and Mattys Strydom (Sage ERP Africa Talon) in third and fourth respectively. Dean Venter (Manetou Group Swift) and Matt Nash rounded out the top six.

In the initial stages of the opening heat the battle was between Ian Schofield and Horne with Ben van der Westhuizen (Delta Rubber / Pioneer Plastics Royale) in a surprizing third after getting tired of waiting for the lights to go out and jumping the start. The subsequent 30 second penalty saw him eventually classified tenth.

The leaders had just completed the first lap when the safety car boards came out after Andy Schofield and Andreas Petreu came together in their Investchem Reynards. Janathan Nash (Swift) was following close behind and could not escape the carnage and, with three cars on the racing line in the final corner, the safety car was deployed. Two laps later the Kyalami marshals had removed the wreckage and racing got underway again.

The safety car closed the field up and Hepburn and Jermy took full advantage, working their way through the pack to make it a five-way battle at the head of the field with Horne, Ian Schofield and Strydom. Strydom’s car was not happy with the pace and he slowly lost contact with the leading bunch then Hepburn dived up the inside of Horne to take the lead. Schofield spun at the top of the hill which dropped him down the field.

After eight laps of racing it was Hepburn who emerged on top nearly a second and a half ahead of Horne with Jermy in third. Ian Schofield recovered to finish fourth, just over a second behind Jermy with Strydom managing to bring his ailing Talon home in fifth. Gable, despite a 360 degree spin at the exit of turn three in the early stages of the race, finished sixth.

The second race began with a very wet track and it soon claimed a few victims. Strydom grabbed the lead at the start followed by Horne but the pair of them went wide at Sunset allowing pole-sitter Hepburn back into the lead. Horne recovered but Strydom’s car was buried in the kitty litter resulting in another safety car period. No sooner had the safety car returned to the pits when it was called on again, this time after Timothy Gillespie and James Reeves (Swift) got stuck in the kitty litter at turn 14. With no overtaking possible, the race became a procession behind the safety car until the red flags came out after six laps had been completed.

Hepburn got his second win of the day followed by Matt Nash and Ian Schofield. Venter claimed fourth ahead of Horne with van der Westhuizen in sixth.

Two heat wins gave Heburn the overall win for the day with Horne in second and Ian Schofield third.

The next round of the Investchem Formula Ford Kent championship takes place back at Kyalami on 9 May 2015.