RACE REPORT BY LOURENS BADENHORST
The 2021 South African National Championship for Off-Road Nitro kicked off on Friday the 12th of March in the blue skies of the Highveld in Gauteng Pretoria situated at the Zwartkops Raceway track.
With air temperatures reaching above 30°C it allowed the track temperature to reach above 60°C in the early afternoon allowing most drivers who capitalised on the high traction to run personal best times of 1-2 seconds faster than usual.
An unexpected rain shower on Friday evening caused for a huge upset on Saturday morning as the track lost a lot of grip after that, going into the first qualifier in the morning with cooler temperatures allowing the track temperature only reaching 26°C in the first round.
Starting off with the Electric Buggy Class with the top 3 runners on a 98% consistency it was hard to separate these 3 from one another but with Richard Duckham being 2 seconds faster on average per lap it was not possible for John Fitzsimmons and Zane Keogh to keep up who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Round 2 was no different as the youngster Richard Duckham continued with his 98% consistency to win again followed by John Fitzsimmons coming in 2nd followed by Murray Van Lelyveld in 3rd this time.
Round 3 saw a few surprises as the winner from the previous 2 rounds had some trouble with his electronics which avoided him to finish allowing for Murray Lelyveld to take the win by over 14 seconds on Lourens Badenhorst finishing in 2nd place followed by John Fitzsimmons in 3rd place.
The final round of qualifying will see the guys from the first round back in action with Richard Duckham taking first place to TQ with John Fitzsimmons back in 2nd place followed by Zane Keogh in 3rd place.
With 2 rounds to count out of the 4 Richard Duckham took the TQ spot followed by Murray Van Lelyveld and John Fitzsimmons in 3rd position overall.
Sunday morning the track was back to warmer conditions as used to during the pre-season with 3 rounds of 10 minutes racing lying ahead with 2 to count.
In the first race Murray Van Lelyveld made an early mistake allowing Lourens Badenhorst and Zane Keogh to capitalise on his mistake and unable to get pass Zane Keogh later on would allow a big gap to the front runners resulting in Richard Duckham taking the first win, followed by John Fitzsimmons in 2nd place and Lourens Badenhorst in 3rd place.
Race 2 would see the young Richard Duckham having another electronic issue resulting in not finishing the last lap leaving him in 3rd place this time allowing Murray Van Lelyveld to take the win this time around followed by John Fitzsimmons in 2nd place.
The last race of the day would go to Murray Van Lelyveld taking the win followed by John Fitzsimmons in 2nd place with a surprising 3rd place finish for Charles Hudson who only found some pace on the last run of the weekend.
Overall results will see Murray Van Lelyveld taking the win, followed by John Fitzsimmons in 2nd place and Richard Duckham falling behind to take the last podium in 3rd place.
Moving on to the Nitro Truggy Class then, boy oh boy this class is for the big boys only as you don’t want to get into their way. Starting off with the first round of Qualifying on Saturday morning would see Murray Van Lelyveld take the win over Sohil Sugreem in 2nd place with Gavin Leisching in 3rd place.
The 2nd round would see Murray Van Lelyveld dominating by more than 1.5 seconds on average per lap and with a consistency of 98% was just unstoppable. Brendon Van Staden finished in 2nd place with Jaco Taljaard only 2 seconds behind in 3rd place.
Moving on to round 3 would see a different contender in the mix with Brendan Du Preez taking the win by only 5 seconds over Brendon Van Staden followed by Murray Van Lelyveld in 3rd place also only 5 seconds behind 2nd place providing a teaser for some exciting racing to follow the next day on.
In the final qualifier round of the day Murray Van Lelyveld would round it up with a 3rd victory over rivals managing to take a 4 second win over Brendan Du Preez who took the 2nd place followed by Brendon Van Staden in 3rd place left 10 seconds behind.
Overall results will see Murray Van Lelyveld taking the TQ place with Brendan Du Preez taking 2nd place followed by Brendon Van Staden in 3rd place.
Sunday would provide an exciting and tough 45 minute final with Murray Van Lelyveld leading the race for the first 30 laps with Brendan Du Preez making an early mistake to fall back to 5th place and had to work his way back in the first 5 laps with Brendon Van Staden and Jaco Taljaard fighting it out in front of him. Brendan Du Preez managed to catch up to the leader after 35 laps to take the lead with the back markers allowing for some nail biting action as the leaders sometimes had to hold their breath to make the pass.
Brendan Du Preez took the win at the end beating Murray Van Lelyveld to finish line by 2 laps followed by Brendon Van Staden finishing in 3rd place, also 2 laps behind who almost got taken out by Pieter Vermaak who missed a jump landing right in front of him while going full speed on the straight and ended up at the next corner sliding a near 15 meters on his roof.
Next up were the Pro Nitro Buggy Class whom provided the fastest racing on the weekend.
Starting off in the first round of qualifying would see Miquel Haasbroek managing an astonishing 99.40% consistency to take the first win leaving Justin Van Biljon 15 seconds behind him in 2nd place followed by the young Richard Duckham in 3rd place only 3 seconds behind.
The 2nd round would provide for very close racing as Miquel Haasbroek only managed to win by 1.8 seconds followed by Justin van Biljon in 2nd place with only 1 second ahead of 3rd placed driver Kyle Stofberg whom also only managed to leave a 2.8 second gap behind him leaving the 12 year old Damian Howard in 4th place.
The 3rd round would see Miquel Haasbroek doing the fastest lap on the weekend with a 36.9s lap taking another win with Justin Van Biljon only managing a 38.1s lap resulting being in 2nd place around 12 seconds behind followed by Richard Duckham in 3rd place only 0.7 of a second behind.
Round 4 would stay pretty much the same but this time around Miquel Haasbroek could only keep Justin Van Biljon 7 seconds behind him followed by another 3rd place for young driver Richard Duckham only left behind with a 5 second gap.
After qualifying the result would be Miquel Haasbroek to take the TQ spot followed by team mate Justin Van Biljon in 2nd and Kyle Stofberg in 3rd place.
Finally the moment arrived on Sunday afternoon for these drivers to see who can come out on top.
Miquel Haasbroek started off very well and stayed in front for the first 15 laps while Justin Van Biljon and Kyle Stofberg raced each other fighting it out for 2nd place during this time.
Justin Van Biljon would then take the lead for the next 10 laps with Miquel Haasbroek dropping back to 3rd after 25 laps allowing Kyle Stofberg to take the lead on Justin Van Biljon for 2 laps and then falling back to 3rd place then to battle it out with Miquel Haasbroek for 2nd place for the next 25 laps.
Lap 56 would provide a heart breaking moment for Justin Van Biljon as he suffered from a set screw that came loose on the carburetor throttle link which in return almost caused a run away.
With that said his race was over and on the same lap Miquel Haasbroek managed to make a pass on Kyle Stofberg for the win later on with Kyle Stofberg only finishing 7.5 seconds behind the winner.
12 Year old Damian Howard whom started in 5th position would fight it out with Daniel De Azevedo for most of the race for 4th place and then end up taking the 3rd place as Richard Duckham would make an early retirement having had issues from as early as the 3rd lap of the race.
Thank you to all drivers, pit crew & family who attended the event. I would also like to thank the organizers for hosting such a fantastic event. We hope to see you all at the next round in Welkom.