Former Production Cars driver Leeroy Poulter, now driving for Terry Moss Racing had a debut to remember when he won the first heat of the Engen Volkswagen Cup at Kyalami last Saturday.
Poulter had to fend off the determined attentions of veteran ace driver Iain Pepper, who was looking good for a Heat One win until he spun out of the circuit all on his own. The duo seemed to have been the only ones to muster the art of driving the new 20-valve engines while the rest of the field battled to keep up the pace, with last place qualifier Itsik Bouhbot lapping 12 seconds slower! In fairness however, most of the new entrants battled to lap fast in what is essentially a challenging car for any driver.
Poulter qualified on pole on Friday and proceeded to open a large gap by lap 3 of the race. Pepper however quickly reeled him in, overtook him and then promptly lost the lead to Poulter again. When Pepper regained the lead, it somehow led to his costly mistake which put him back down the field, eventually finishing in a disappointing 5th place.
Also showing immense promise for the rest of the season was Scott Bricknell. He seemed to improve with every lap and eventually finished third behind Robert Briggs, having started in 9th position on the grid! Robert Briggs, another of the promising Engen Volkswagen Cup youngsters, finished an impressive 2nd place behind Poulter, fighting off Bricknell in the end.
It was a display of impressive driving in difficult conditions for all drivers as none of them have had enough time to familiarise themselves with the new engines and 6-speed gearboxes.
In Heat Two Pepper was not going to make any mistakes and duly overtook Poulter to win his first race of the season. Poulter retired later in the race. Briggs finished second again in Heat Two, while ever-improving Kosie Swanepoel finished 3rd ahead of the more accomplished Scott Bricknell and Graeme Nathan in 4th and 5th places respectively.
In retrospect, Pepper should have won both heats, but his spin in Heat One cancelled all hopes of a double. With more work needing to be done on the engines to get them to their optimum performance level by all teams, Pepper, Poulter and Bricknell have achieved a healthy head-start for themselves, and the points scored now may count later on in the season. With drivers like Graeme Nathan and Curt Alchin still in the series, any points scored will be treasured.
Last year's champion Michael Stephen will no longer defend his title, and is instead assisting the technical team. The same is true for two time former champion Tschops Sipuka, who will be helping out in testing.
Original article from Car