The very first Thunder Saloons race at Killarney, run at Round 5 of the Power Series presented by Wingfield Motors and Kfm 94.5 on Saturday 10 July, delivered all the excitement fans were hoping for – and with 14 entries first time out, the success of this fast and furious new category is already assured.

The drama began on the warm-up lap, as Faizel Coetzee gave the A&M Plumbing BMW M3 too much loud pedal coming out of Interceptor Corner and intercepted the tyre wall halfway up the Kfm Straight. The car was quickly towed to a safe spot, the marshals cleaned up the oil and the race got under way, with father and son Nieyaaz and Imaad Modack in the MIM Carriers/NSI Racing E46 M3’s setting the early pace, hotly pursued by Danie van Niekerk’s impressively quick Wingfield Motors SuperPolo and the Harp Motorsport Citroen Xsara Sport T of Steve Humble.

But the dice of the race was happening in midfield as Danyaal Coetzee (A&M Plumbing M3) and Edrees Achmat (EQA Performance M3) mixed it with Raaziegh Harris’ very non-standard Panic Plumbers Golf Mk1 and the Cool Touch 325is Shadowline of Roshan Khan, swopping places on almost every lap.

There was more drama as Imaad Modack suddenly slowed on lap four, dropping back to third and then retiring on lap eight, while Van Niekerk drove the wheels off the SuperPolo in his efforts to get on terms with Modack Sr, posting the fastest lap of the race (an impressive 1min19.203) on the penultimate lap.

But there was no catching the NSI Racing E46 as Modack came home four seconds clear of Van Niekerk, with Humble a distant third in the Xsara, which was built as an endurance racer and is significantly overweight for this class of racing.

A few seconds later Coetzee, Achmat and Harris crossed the line in that order, covered by just 0.159sec after an epic final lap, with Khan less than three seconds further back.

Nieyaaz Modack also posted a very satisfying double win earlier in the day in the Mikes Place Clubmans Saloons races, after battling for the lead the whole way with Charl Visser’s new Charl Electrical 350Z. Visser actually led one lap of Race 1 and finished only half a second adrift, with Class B runner Shane Smith (Truckport Logistics BMW E46) a distant third and Achmat Achmat (Beta Machine & Tool BMW 135) fourth overall and second in Class B.

Visser and Cody Alberts (JVG Roofing/Stylesy/GT Graphics BMW 330i) were over the Modack E46 like a rash for most of Race 2, until Visser suddenly dropped out of contention on the final lap. Alberts chased Modack home, finishing 0.387sec in arrears, with Visser a distant third. Achmat took Class B line honours in fourth overall, with Smith second in class and fifth overall.

Jurie ‘Umpie’ Swart and the Alpine Autohaus Polo 6 2L were leading the first Cheaper Cars GTi Challenge race Dillon Joubert (Powder Coating World/TAC Steel Polo 6), Colin Meder’s International Tube Technology Polo and Jason Coetzee in the Mint Wrapworks/CK Coachworks Golf GTi ), when Wayne Field (VW Jetta Mk2) and Matthew Rowe (Veldt Reared Golf Mk1) collided in Fastron Corner on lap four and brought out the red flags.

Swart went straight back into the lead at the restart, while Coetzee came back from a poor start to pass Meder and Joubert and finish second, a little more than two seconds behind the leader. Giordano Lupini (Bullion IT/Banhoek Chilli Oil Jetta Mk2) took Class B line honours in sixth overall, 4.57 seconds ahead of an epic battle for second in class that saw Eden Thompson (Mad Performance/Somerset Refrigeration Polo 6), Jaco Lambert and Ian Kapp finish in that order within less than seven tenths of a second.

Class C went to Kyle Wiltshire by the narrowest of margins from Tate Bishop (Angri Golf) and Schalk Geldenhuys (G&A Motorsport Golf Mk1).

Race 2 saw Swart hold off a determined challenge from Coetzee to win by a scant 0.147sec, with Meder third and Joubert fourth. Thompson got his revenge on arch-rival Lupini with a solid Class B win in sixth overall, while Wiltshire, Bishop and Geldenhuys mixed it up in Class C, coming home in that order covered by less than two seconds.

The first SDC Classic Cars race was red-flagged on lap two Gerrit van Zyl spun his Anglia into the tyre wall just after the kink between Turn 2 and Interceptor Corner – but that didn’t change the result. Franco Donadio took his all-conquering Ford Escort Mk1 around the outside of Charles Arton’s Datsun 240Z in Kfm Corner and held off challenges from first Arton and then Michael Hitchcock (Cross Cape Forklift Services Mustang), who passed Arton for second on lap four, as the leading trio finished within three seconds.

Donadio took nearly a second off his lap time in Race 2, romping away to win by 12 seconds from Hitchcock, Andrew Honeywill (Porsche 944 Turbo) and Trevor Momberg (Ford Capri 3.4L), who put in a determined late charge to close to within 0.08sec of the Porsche at the line.

The Formula Libre category provided the most spectacular crash of the day – and ironically, the victim also took the overall honours for the day! Here’s how it happened:

Byron Mitchell in the Dolphin Engineering Formula VW led Race 1 from lights to flag, well clear of second-placed Dee-Jay Booysen (Dico/Burner Factory Reynard), while the usual midfield bunfight saw Bertus Engelbrecht (CS Cleaning Solutions/TRUSC Speads RM08), Hayden Ellwood (Formula Swift SC92F), AshFaak Dawood (Eloff Transformers/Claw Security Formula Ray), Elroy Vice (Dolphin Engineering Forza), Zane Amundsen (Dolphin Engineering Repsol Lantis), Donovan Ramsay (Dolphin Engineering Rhema), Cyril Somerville (Dolphin Engineering Sting 1.4L and Kelly Fletcher (Dolphin Engineering Forza) jostled for position throughout the race, eventually finishing in that order.

Mitchell was leading Race 2 by 12 seconds from Booysen, with Troy Dolinschek (Formula Zetech) a further 20 seconds adrift, and had just posted the fastest lap of the day across all categories (a blistering 1min10.68) when Mike Schmidt’s new Nardini Squalo blew its Toyota engine on the start-finish line at the start of lap seven, depositing a huge oil slick all the way down to Kfm Corner.

Seconds later, Mitchell’s Formula VW lost its rear brakes going into Fastron Corner at 240km/h; from then on Mitchell was a passenger as the car went straight into the tyre wall, completely destroying the front suspension but without collapsing the tub; Mitchell walked away with nothing more than bumps and bruises.

The red flags came out and the result was taken as at the end of lap six, which made Mitchell the winner, from Booysen, Dolinschek, Dawood, Ellwood, Schmidt, James Beaumont (iSquared Technologies Reynard), Vice, Ramsay, Amundsen, Somerville and Fletcher – the last five of whom were all covered by less than two seconds at the end of lap six.

The V8 Masters had elected not to run in the interests of fairness, since a number of their leading contenders live in Gauteng and were prevented from attending by Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions, so Makita Formula Supercars were run alongside the Bejo Trustees Fine Cars for the occasion – an unusual combination that led to some fascinating racing.

Nian du Toit romped away from pole, leading rookie Kellen de Bruijn, Glen Phillips and Hilton Pieters, while Rob Toscano (Technoparts MX5) led the Fine Cars from Gunther Applegryn’s BMW E36; Melani Cook spun her Jetta in Fastron Corner on lap one and wound up with a 14 second deficit.

Then it all went pear-shaped on lap seven as Phillips spun in Fastron and Cedric Lebon collided with him; both cars came to a stop on the circuit and the red flags came out.

Du Toit ran an uncharacteristically slow opening lap at the start off Race 2 and finished lap one third behind De Bruijn and Phillips. By lap four, however, he was back in front, steadily pulling away to win by almost nine seconds. Behind him however, Phillips and De Bruijn fought it out in the dice of the race for second, finishing in that order just 0.007sec apart, while Toscano led home Appelgryn and Cook in the Fine Cars category.