16 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

2020 Oettinger Polo Cup: Busi and Oates triumph at season-opener

The 24th season of Volkswagen South Africa’s one-make Polo racing series got underway at Zwartkops Raceway on 12-13 March. Dario Busi and Darren Oates emerged as winners in Pretoria, with Busi leaving the first round of the 2020 Oettinger Polo Cup with the championship lead.

Competitive times
Three practice sessions in the rain on the 1.5-mile circuit did little to dampen the drivers’ spirits, and a field of competitive times ensured the racing would be tightly exciting. Newcomer Jean-Pierre van der Walt and Capetonian Jurie Umpie Swart proved to be the ones to watch – Swart went fastest in two of the day’s three sessions. Following qualifying, the Superpole flying laps session determined the starting order of the fastest six drivers, and Capetonian Dario Busi clinched his maiden pole position, setting a time of 1:11.386. Three tenths of a second faster than Justin Oates, Clinton Bezuidenhout was third. Swart was fourth.

Busi was flying from the start of race one, with the chasing pack of identical 197bhp racing Polo GTIs staying close and tight. There was little jostling for position, and as he charged towards the checkered flag, Busi opened up a gap. He crossed the finishing line 4.9 seconds ahead of his rivals. Justin Oates’ Polo was the second to pass under the flag with Bezuidenhout claiming the final podium position. Busi was overjoyed with his first ever win. ‘It was a great race and a fantastic feeling to control it from the front. This must be the best-handling car I’ve ever driven. Let’s see if we can get another podium in the next race,’ he said.

Fierce attack
A draw determined the starting order for the second race, with Darren and Justin Oates taking first and second places on the grid respectively. Busi started from row two, alongside Van der Walt with Arnold Neveling and Swart completing the top six. The Oates brothers almost collided shortly after the lights turned green which allowed ‘master’ (a category for those aged over 35) driver Van der Walt to make the most of the situation. The Johannesburg businessman fought off a fierce attack from Darren Oates and Busi, and a small mistake halfway through the race saw him slip down to fifth.

Darren Oates led the pack of 20 cars, and despite being under pressure from Busi, defended his advantage to cross the line first. Neveling crossed the line in fourth ahead of Swart and early race leader Van der Walt. When the times for both races were added to determine the day’s overall results, Busi was at the top of the standings ahead of Justin Oates and Bezuidenhout, and left Zwartkops the championship leader.

‘The guys at the front of the field gave us two very competitive and for the most part also clean races,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen South Africa Motorsport. ‘They all drove well and set the scene for a very competitive season ahead. The Oettinger Polo Cup is also all about developing future stars and there were also a few noteworthy results, albeit from a little further down the order,’ he added. ‘It’s dangerous to make any predictions in motorsport and with so many fast and talented drivers all staking their claim so early on it’s impossible to predict how this year’s championship will end. But one thing is for certain: it’s going to be very exciting.’

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