08 March 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Robertson leads 2011 Engen Volkswagen Cup after opening rounds at Kyalami

Saturday 5 March saw the opening rounds of the 2011 Engen Volkswagen Cup, and Devin Robertson in the Sparco/Big Boss Auto Polo proved the most successful driver of the day, with second and third place finishes in each of the rounds. Missing a second place in the championship last year, his performance at Kyalami is a good indication of his determined spirit to score a higher spot on the podium in 2011. Kyle Barnes in the PG Glass/CFP Tyres/Conti Partner car took overall second place, while Kelvin van der Linde filled the third spot on the podium in the Ferodo Racing Polo Vivo.

The 2011 Engen Volkswagen Cup series is similar to the other racing Polo Cup single-series championships run both in Europe and India. Just as in those series, the one-make format particularly highlights new young driving talent. In the Engen championship, as many as 30 drivers regularly take to the track in technically-identical, 2.0-litre 234bhp Volkswagen Polo Vivos, with full grids ensuring close-fought races. The full race report from Volkswagen South Africa and mini-gallery follows. The next rounds of the 2011 Engen Volkswagen Cup are scheduled for 2 April at the Kilarney circuit in Cape Town.

Hot start to the season for Engen Volkswagen Cup racers
The Engen Volkswagen Cup season got off to an exciting start at Kyalami on Saturday with Devin Robertson (2) in the Sparco/Big Boss Auto Polo proving the most successful racer on the day. Robertson claimed a second and a third place finish in each of the races. This performance is a good indication that Robertson has picked up where he left off the 2010 season as a serious contender to the Engen Volkswagen Cup throne – he just missed last season to finish in second place for the year.

Second place overall at Kyalami on Saturday was claimed by Kyle Barnes (5) in the PG Glass/CFP Tyres/Conti Partner entry with Kelvin van der Linde (31) in the Ferodo Racing entry claiming third place. Van der Linde grabbed the lion’s share of attention at the Johannesburg meeting as it was his race debut in the series and the 14-year old got his season off to a very promising start.

Jeffrey Kruger (24) in the Steamsure Combustion/Ukubila Engineering Polo found himself at the sharp end of the field from the outset when he drew pole position for race one in the top six qualifier draw. While Kruger has raced in the series before – and does well in the Superhatch category – he is unfamiliar with just how intense the racing gets at the front of the Engen Volkswagen Cup field. Competitors like Masters racer Lee Thompson (30) in the Ferodo car, Robertson, Kosie Weyers (3) in the Engen Xtreme Polo and Barnes made quick work of getting past Kruger to lead the field. The action was thick and fast from the outset when Thompson proved the quickest racer on track to claim the lead and stay there till the chequered flag.

The racing didn’t last long for the Engen Volkswagen Cup competitors as a last corner incident on lap one of the first race saw Shaun la Reservee (14) in the Alpine Motors VW/Compendium Insurance Polo, Trevor Bland (10) in the Action Print entry and Ian Prinsloo (20) in the Bizhub car sent the Safety Car on track while the marshalls cleared the mess. Bland emerged from the carnage relatively unscathed and got back on track to continue racing but it was the end of the track for La Reservee and Prinsloo who had to sit out the rest of the race. Another competitor on the DNF (did not finish) list was Bryan Morgan (4) in the GreatSoft entry. Morgan suffered a puncture after just three laps and was forced to retire.

Up front the battle raged when the Safety Car retreated to the pits in lap five as the drivers jockeyed for position on track. Further down the field it was Brennon Green (9) in the Indy Oil car and Bland that made a move on Shaun Parsons (34) in the Kwikfit Gezina entry before repeating the overtaking manoeuvre Curt Alchin (8) in the The Bodyman Polo and Kyle Lawrence (44) and his Big Boss Auto entry. Bland then moved ahead of Green in the closing stages of the first race to claim 14th.

Van der Linde has clearly thrown down the gauntlet for this season, moving from an 11th place start in race one to climb to a fifth place finish in the first race. The second race saw him cross the finish line to claim sixth which left him third overall for the day – a coveted podium finish on his first day in Engen Volkswagen Cup competition. This also saw Van der Linde claim the title of Driver of the Day along with a tyre voucher from Engen Volkswagen Cup tyre sponsor Continental Tyres.

The second race was much the same up front with Thompson leading the field. This time though, Graham Donker (2) in the Mini/Maxi Panelbeaters car slipped into second place with Robertson in third. Trouble in the opening stages of race two was to be found with Brett Roach (3) in the Old Mutual car, Kruger and Green. Kruger went into a corner too fast and hit Roach. This incident then put Roach in the firing line of Green who had just received a tap from one of the other drivers in the field – the result was that Roach, Kruger and Green were sidelined with no completed laps in the second race – and saw the Safety Car deployed in the Engen Volkswagen Cup series for the second time on the day.

With Jeffrey Kruger out of the running it was up to his sister, Robyn (7) in the Steamsure Combustion/Ukubila Engineering car to keep the flag flying for their team. Kruger and Bland were involved in a tight tussle on track as they traded positions with Kruger proving the tougher contender on track to claim a ninth place finish. On the day, though, it was Robertson racking up the most points to finish first overall with Barnes second and Van der Linde third. In the Masters category Thompson proved most successful with two race wins with Donker in second and Miguel Pasqualli (1) in the Engen Xtreme car finishing third.

Results – race one
1 Lee Thompson (30M) – Ferodo Racing
2 Devin Robertson (2) – Sparco/Big Boss Auto
3 Kosie Weyers (3) – Engen Xtreme

Results – race two
1 Lee Thompson (30M) – Ferodo Racing
2 Graham Donker (2M) – Mini/Maxi Panelbeaters
3 Devin Robertson (2) – Sparco/Big Boss Auto

Results – championship
1 Devin Robertson (2) – Sparco/Big Boss Auto
2 Kyle Barnes (5) – PG Glass/CFP Tyres/Conti Partner
3 Kelvin van der Linde (31) – Ferodo Racing

Results – masters championship (M)
1 Lee Thompson (30M) – Ferodo Racing
2 Graham Donker (2M) – Mini/Maxi Panelbeaters
3 Miguel Pasqualli (1M) – Engen Xtreme

[Source: Volkswagen South Africa]

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