Dean Venter (Desco SA / Manitou Swift) took two hard-fought wins at the third round of the 2017 Investchem Formula Ford championship to extend his championship lead. The event, held on Saturday, 8 July at Phakisa Freeway, formed part of the Freeze State Single Seater GP, a race day dedicated to single seater race cars.
Venter signaled his intentions in qualifying, claiming pole position from defending champion Andrew Horne (Xena Chemicals / Budd Power van Diemen), albeit by just over a tenth of a second. Things were really tight at the head of the field, with the top seven cars separated by just 0.836”. Former champion Graham Hepburn (Suburban Body Shop van Diemen) celebrated his return to the field by claiming third place on the grid alongside Matt Nash in the Ray normally piloted by James Reeves. Jacquet Racing team mates, David Jermy and Jeff Gable, occupied the third row in their van Diemens with Duncan Vos (Ecurie Zoo Swift) and Jonathan Nash (Matt Nash Motorsport Swift) rounding out the top eight.
A first corner incident, coupled with some oil in turn two, resulted in an unusual leader board after the first couple of laps, Matt Nash leading the way with Venter, Jermy, Horne and Vos in close attendance. A couple of laps later a more familiar picture started to appear, although Jermy was missing after being caught out by the oil in turn two.
Venter and Horne were slugging it out at the head of the field which allowed Vos to close in on them. Horne gave it everything he had but had to settle for second, less than a tenth behind Venter with Vos a further two tenths back in third. Matt Nash ended up in a somewhat lonely fourth place with Hepburn, who fought his way through from way down the field after a first corner spin, in fifth, just ahead of Jonathan Nash. Dalan Holton (Debella Finance van Diemen) and Gable rounded out the top eight.
In the second race it was again Venter, Horne and Vos at the head of the field, this time joined by Hepburn. As Horne was preparing to make a serious move, his throttle stuck open, sidelining him and leaving Hepburn to try to prevent Venter from taking his second win of the day. As in the first race, Venter was just able to hang on and take the win from Hepburn with Vos again in third. Gable got the better of Jonathan Nash to claim fourth with Tiago Rabelo, out to get experience in a Duratec car, crossing the line in sixth. Allen Meyer (van Diemen) and Steve Venter (Turnfab Engineering / Manitou Group Swift) completed the top eight.
The silverware for the top three overall on the day went to Venter, Vos and Hepburn.
Venter now has a twenty-point lead over Horne in the championship race with Jermy, who had a weekend to forget at Phakisa, a further twelve points back in third.
The Investchem Formula Ford Kent championship competitors make their way down to Dezzi Raceway on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast for their next outing on 5 August.