17 Dec RACE REVIEW – POLO CUP – CAPE MOTORSPORT FESTIVAL
SO NEAR AND YET SO FAR FOR LOCAL HERO IN POLO CUP SHOWDOWN
The 2021 Volkswagen Polo Cup one-make series came down to a final showdown at the Cape Motorsport Festival presented by the City of Cape Town and G+A Motorsport at Killarney on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 December between the championship leader from Gauteng and the local hero, battling for the win on his home ground.
Championship leader Leyton Fourie came to Cape Town with a 17 point advantage over local hero Jurie ‘Umpie’ Swart – but with 42 points up for grabs from two races the outcome was by no means certain, especially as Swart had won the previous two races at Zwartkops, Fourie’s home circuit.
Swart qualified on pole for the first race on Friday afternoon, with Fourie in a conservative sixth, putting him on the third row of the grid. Swart knew he had to win both races outright to have any chance of taking the title, and grabbed the hole shot right off the line to lead the field into Turn 1, closely followed by Jayden Els, local karting hotshot Tate Bishop and international star Tasmin Pepper.
What followed was 10 laps of fascinating cat-and-mouse as Swart kept it smooth, staying ahead of an intense three-way battle for second that saw Ms Pepper show the boys just how it’s done with a superb pass on Els on lap 6 to take second and hold it to the end. Bishop took the bonus point for the fastest lap with a time of 1 min 26.099 in lap two (although it should be noted that the lady equalled his time a lap later!) and passed Els on the final lap to come home third.
Fourie, meanwhile, finished an unchallenged sixth, picking up 12 crucial points to Swart’s 20 for the win; the gap was now seven points with one race to go.
There had been some argy-bargy in Turn 2 on the final lap, resulting in an unplanned off-piste excursion for Charl Visser, who rejoined to finish stone last. After the race he protested up-and-coming Gauteng driver Nathi Msimanga, saying he’d been punted. After carefully reviewing the footage from all angles, the stewards upheld Visser’s protest and demoted Msimanga eight places so that he was classified last, with Visser just ahead of him.
But that didn’t change anything in the championship battle as the 17 contenders lined up for the final showdown on Saturday morning, except that it left Msimanga with a point to prove. The 18-year-old from Midrand pulled a superb start to slot in behind Swart into Turn 1, with Bishop, Fourie, Arnold Neveling, Visser and Pepper jostling for position behind them.
That lit the fuse for 10 laps of insane action as Swart and Msimanga pulled away to come home unchallenged in first and second respectively while an epic seven-way battle for third played out behind them. The decisive move came down the back straight with two laps to go, as Fourie muscled his way into third with team-mate Visser behind him to block any kamikaze last-lap moves from the rest of the pack.
That didn’t stop Neveling from trying it on, but the Universal Healthcare team-mates weren’t having any of it, crossing the line in tight formation to finish third and fourth respectively, with a bonus point for the fastest lap setting the seal on Fourie’s 2021 Volkswagen Polo Cup title.