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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06 March 2020 ~ 0 Comments

Oettinger Polo Cup gears up for the 2020 motorsport season

South Africa’s most successful racing series enters its 24th consecutive season in 2020, and gains a new name for a new decade. Previously known as the Engen Volkswagen Cup and the Volkswagen Polo Cup South Africa among other names, the series has a new title sponsor for 2020 and will be known as the Oettinger Polo Cup.

Replacing Falken as the headline sponsor, the Oettinger brand is officially returning to South Africa thanks to the efforts of Universal Healthcare’s team owner and driver Dr Johan Pretorius who acquired the South African rights to the revered tuning brand late in 2019. Falken, Ferodo and Total will remain sponsors supporting the eight-event series which kicks off at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria.

Showcase for young driving talent
A total of 25, technically identical 197bhp Polo GTIs will line-up on the starting grid at the first round on 14 March, all piloted by the country’s best up and coming young drivers. A showcase for young driving talent for the past 23 years, the 2020 series continues that long commitment. ‘The Oettinger Polo Cup is extremely competitive where fractions of a second could mean the difference between winning and losing,’ said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa.

‘In such an environment, it is crucial that the elements that make up a race car work seamlessly together. With that as a backdrop, we are delighted that quality brands such as Oettinger, Falken and Total choose to partner with Volkswagen to showcase their products and brands. It will also ensure that each round of the Oettinger Polo Cup remains a highlight on the racing calendar,’ he continued.

‘Over the years, the Oettinger Polo Cup has been a successful proving ground for South Africa’s best drivers to develop their talents and racecraft and hone their skills,’ said Rowe. ‘When these drivers move on, space opens up to accommodate a new wave of youngsters who will become the next generation of champions. This is why Volkswagen as a company and as a responsible investor in the markets in which we operate is extremely proud of what the Polo Cup has achieved in terms of development over the years, and we are excited that the new-look Oettinger Polo Cup will continue to do so going forward,’ he added.

‘Synonymous with Volkswagen’
‘Oettinger has been famous for tuning Volkswagens for more than 70 years. The brand is synonymous with Volkswagen and it’s a pleasure for us to bring it back to South Africa,’ said Dr Pretorius. ‘For us, it was the perfect fit to get involved with the country’s most competitive racing series which happens to consist of 25 Volkswagen Polo GTIs and we hope that by us and Volkswagen joining forces, the Oettinger Polo Cup will continue to go from strength to strength,’ he added.

Falken Tyres, the 2019 title sponsor will continue to support the series as the official tyre partner and all the competing Polos will be shod with the company’s slick racing rubber. ‘We are excited to continue our mutually beneficial relationship with the Oettinger Polo Cup,’ said Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber SA (Sumitomo Dunlop), the company responsible for the Falken Tyres brand in South Africa. ‘The series provides us with the perfect platform to showcase these quality products and we expect to see more of the same this season.’

All the race-ready Polo GTIs will not only sport identical rubber, but will also be powered by the same fuel courtesy of Total and its Excellium brand. ‘Motorsport is about creating a winning image, but it also provides an opportunity for real-world testing. To see so many performance Volkswagen Polos performing at their peak is exactly what we want to see at Total and we’ll continue to follow the series with great interest in 2020,’ said Sanjeev Sheosanker, retail fuels sales manager at Total SA. Stopping power will once again be provided by brake component manufacturer Ferodo who continue its long-lasting relationship with the series.

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