The second round of the 2015 Engen Volkswagen Cup championship at Killarney on Saturday did not disappoint in delivering racing action. Some door-against-door racing, lots of overtaking and even a competitor smashing through a wall all featured in this exciting round of the series.
At the head of the field, Masters competitor Mathew Hodges (M1 – Makopano / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters) set the pace in qualifying with visiting competitor Nian du Toit (37) hot on his heels – with a qualifying time just 0.089 of a second behind him. Third quickest was Daniel Rowe (2 – Ferodo) with the fastest 11 competitors all qualifying within a second of the leader.
With qualifying over, attention turned to the top-six draw for the two races. Here Sheldon van der Linde (1 – Champion), Matthew Shorter (11 – Champion) and Hodges drew the top three for race one with Rowe, Hodges and Chris Shorter (33 – Hollard) the first three on the grid for race two.
With Van der Linde leading the field in race one – and then winning that race – it looked like Killarney would turn into a copy of round one, with the defending champion dominating the results. With the championship leader winning the first race it was left to Matthew Shorter to claim second and Hodges to claim third – and also be the first Master home.
A last-corner drag race to the finish line took place between du Toit, Bradley Liebenberg (12 – Ferodo), Duvall Maritz (18 – Maritz Financial Services) and Michael Gibson (21 – Grand Prix Models). Of the four, du Toit finished highest, in seventh place, but it was Liebenberg’s performance that impressed. Starting from last on the grid, he crossed the finish line for eighth place – climbing 10 positions during the 10-lap event.
The tables turned in race two, however, when Hodges won overall, with Rowe in second and Trevor Bland (M2 – PG Glass / Alpine Motors) taking third, making it two Masters in the top three for the race. For Van der Linde problems with his gearbox in that second race and an incident with Shaun Holtzhausen (M4 – Makopano / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters) – the result of an earlier problem for Holtzhausen – resulted in a finish way down the order.
Race two will be one that Lyle Ramsay (16 – Monroe Racing SA) is keen to forget. The race saw him leave the track at the end of the back straight, smashing backwards through the wall at Killarney – a position his car remained in for the rest of the race day. A lack of braking power at a critical moment resulted in his early retirement from the event.
Overall for the day it was Hodges who claimed first, Rowe second and Bland in third place – another indication that the Masters field will play an important role in the 2015 championship result.
The Driver of the Day was a tough choice for the Engen Volkswagen Cup officials to decide. Under consideration for the award was Liebenberg for an excellent performance in race one and John Johnstone (M5 – Circle Group) for producing his best result ever at Killarney, but it was Hodges and Rowe that share the award for their on-track battle which saw intense, clean racing at close quarters on the day.
The next round of the Engen Volkswagen Cup is the second of three coastal rounds, this time at Aldo Scribante Raceway in Port Elizabeth on Saturday June 13.