Round three, of the 2004 South African National Formula Vee Championship, saw Symm Grobler (Auto Mecca Rhema 2), increase his lead over second placed Alan Holm (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema 2) by another five points, while pre season favorite Dennis Johns (Goldco Midas Rhema 2) once again failed to finish the first heat! At Zwartkops, it was a driver error that cost him valuable Championship points, at Wesbank Raceway, a mechanical failure and at Kyalami, mechanical failure intervened again and he retired at the end of the second lap with what was eventually traced to a blocked pump jet.
In the first race, it was Johns who lead the field across the line, at the end of the first lap, followed by Grobler, Jody Robertson (Rhema), Holm, Lee Thompson (Rhema), Alan Kernick (Tasman), Jaco Schriks (Johannesburg Bright Steels Rhema 2) and Peter Hills (Vacuform Rhema). Johns and Hills were however not destined to complete the lap and as Johns came into the pits to retire, Hills stopped out on the circuit, with a broken fuel pump. Rion Lerm (Vision), JP Nortje (Sting) and Schriks did not last much longer, while Nico Blignaut (Gilus IT – SAP Rhema), Benny Phetla (Vacuform Rhema), Claude Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting) and Doug MacDonald (Rhema), were not destined to see the chequered flag either.
With Johns out of the way, Grobler took the lead, for a couple of laps, before Robertson came through to take the lead and head up a race long four car battle, at the head of the field, while Wayne Bennett (Lafarge Readymix Rhema 2) and Anthony Taylor (Vacuform Rhema 2) set about hunting Kernick down and passed him just on half distance. A little further back a mighty six car battle raged, involving MacDonald, Tony Beecher (Beecher), Phetla, Kevin Cartmell (Rand Brake Sting), Claude Cartmell and sixteen year old ex Kart Champion Jonathan Vilaca (Vision), making his Formula Vee racing debut. After some spectacular, tyre smoking, out braking maneuvers, Phetla retired with an overheating engine and then on the last lap, MacDonald and Claude Cartmell tangled, at the bottom of the mine shaft, sending both cars off the circuit and into the gravel trap, at high speed.
Into the final lap Robertson had continued to lead but Gobler, Holm and Thompson were qued up behind him and ready to pounce. Into the chicane for the last time, Grobler made his move, with Holm right on his tail, making it impossible for Robertson to defend the line and they both scrambled past, to give Grobler victory, by 0,359 of a second over Holm. Robertson finished third 0,743 of a second further back, and only 0,248 of a second, ahead of Thompson in fourth place. They were followed by Taylor, Bennett, Kernick, Bradley Martin (Rhema 2) Beecher, Vilaca, Kevin Cartmell and Jaco Greyling (Rhema).
Race two, saw Grobler take the lead from Robertson, Johns, Thompson, Holm, Taylor, Schriks and Kernick. The battle up front was fast and furious, with Robertson going off the circuit on lap two and Thompson being forced to take to the dirt as well, while Taylor only just managed to avoid joining them. Robertson rejoined in ninth place, with Thompson right behind him and the two of them would remain locked in battle, for the rest of the race. Already out of the race, were Beecher and Hills who had collided and Kernick retired soon after, when he ran the bearings of his motor.
Out front, Johns had found his way past Grobler, who kept in touch but as they came up to lap development driver Dayview Mogane (Alley), Johns slipped through under braking, while Grobler was forced to follow Mogane through the bend, before he could get past as well. This opened the gap a bit and with just over two laps to go, Grobler would not have enough time to close the gap and challenge for the lead again.
A quick spin at the Chicane, saw MacDonald lose a place to Kevin Cartmell. He recovered quickly and set off to regain the position, during the final lap of the race. Martin then threw away a secure ninth place, when he made a mistake at the Bowl and went off into the gravel trap, during the final lap of the race.
There were no such problems for Johns, who went on to win the race from Grobler, Holm, Taylor, Robertson, Thompson, Bennett, Schriks, Phetla, MacDonald and the Cartmell brothers, Kevin and Claude.
Original article from Car