The famous and historic East London Grand Prix Circuit hosted a full field of no less than 22 fast and determined men and women who all had aspirations of claiming victory on SA’s fastest stage.
Brian Joss – In the end, it was Universal Healthcare’s Jeffrey Kruger who took the overall spoils, but not before putting up a great show for the thousands of fans who enjoyed both great weather next to the Indian Ocean as well as hot action on the iconic piece of tarmac.
“Round three of the Engen Volkswagen Cup in East London was a perfect example of why the series is such a success and why it has been for decades.
You have more than 20 racing drivers in identical cars. Put them all on the same piece of fast but narrow tarmac that includes feared corners like Potter’s Pass and Rifle Bend, and you are in for a treat,” said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.
Someone who did not enjoy the East London outing was Round 1 winner Shaun La Réservée. The Natalian missed Round 2 at Kyalami so he had every intention to score maximum points here in East London to get his championship fight back on track, but it wasn’t to be. A third place finish in the first of the two 10 lap races was a good start for La Réservée, but his Pepper Racing Polo developed engine trouble on the start line of race two, forcing him to abandon the race and to not add to his points tally on the day. Luck clearly deserted the entire Pepper Racing team. His teammate and another championship hopeful Tasmin Pepper’s weekend was even worse. The gearbox inside the young lady’s Polo expired in race 1 forcing her to the sidelines.
The team had a spare available, but decided to fit it to Daniel Duminy’s car for race two, meaning that Pepper also left East London without scoring any points.
The first points of the weekend was scored by Devin Robertson who put his Polo on pole position, just tenths of seconds ahead of Juan Gerber and Jeffrey Kruger. But when the lights turned green for Race 1, it was Jeffrey Kruger who battled his way through to take the first checkered flag of the day. Matt Shorter followed shortly afterwards, with La Réservée, Gerber and Clinton Bezuidenhout rounding out the top 5.
Robertson had problems in race 1 that forced him down to 14th, but he showed his mettle in race two by beating Kruger to the line by a mere 0.4 seconds.
Shorter completed a great weekend with yet another podium finish. When all the points were added, Kruger emerged as the big winner of the day. Shorter claimed second overall with Clinton Bezuidenhout completing the overall podium.
But perhaps the performance of the day belonged to Volkswagen Motorsport’s very own Jonathan Mogotsi. It was his first visit to East London and the first time he laid eyes on the feared Potter’s and Rifle sweeps that test driving talent to the full, but the 2016 Volkswagen Driver Search winner came through with flying colours to record a career best 6th place finish in race 1. He went one better in race 2 with a fine 5th, resulting in an even better 4th overall for the weekend. Volkswagen Motorsport teammate Kuda Vazhure was less fortunate. A few technical issues robbed him of valuable practice time early in the weekend, but when the flags were waved to signal the end of the weekend’s racing he had moved himself up into a very respectable 7th overall.
“We are very pleased with the way the series is going. It develops future stars while entertaining the fans in the process,” said Mike Rowe after completion of the second and final race. “But we are even more pleased with the great progress made by our own two drivers Mogotsi and Vazhure. They are improving with every outing and after showing their mettle at East London, it’s only a matter of time before they start fighting for those coveted podium positions.”
The next opportunity to do that will be at Round 4 of the Extreme Festival scheduled to take place at Pretoria’s Zwartkops Racing Circuit on 16 and 17 June.