The first round of the SupaDrift National series kicked off at Red Star Raceway this past weekend. This would be the inaugural Riaz Alibhai Memorial Cup as well, where a huge floating trophy has been donated by the Alibhai family for the winner of the first round in honour of Riaz Alibhai, who was tragically taken in a car accident almost two years ago. It was going to be an emotional weekend for many as the drivers pulled out all the stops to impress the judges and crowds alike.
33 entrants headed out onto the tar to stake their claim in the championship opener. Unfortunately, two drivers would not would be unable to qualify as the breakages began to rack up. Carl Werner was the first casualty when his gearbox ceased while Mikey Skelton would destroy his motor, putting them both out of the running early on.
Faheem Salie would kill the first of his diffs for the weekend, but in true “Kaapie” style, had a spare on hand and was out on track in no time. Unfortunately, the spare broke during qualifying taking the gearbox with it. George Myburgh’s absolute beaut of a machine had a coming together with Billy van Rooyen’s Supra and both sustained some minor cosmetic damage. Side shafts, differentials and gearboxes suffered under initiation and the long high speed corners. Many bumpers and side skirts lost their lives and much grass was removed due to the technical track which caught out more than a few drivers.
It was good see a few of the Rock Raceway stalwarts making an appearance with Issufo Ussuman and Fred Cooper Jnr trying their hand at the national series. Another noteworthy entrant was Schalk (Willie) van der Merwe entering all the way from Namibia, also putting in a good showing but it was not to be.
After practice and qualifying had been taken care of the final 16 stood tall. It was decided to run a silver cup final where JP van der Spuy would battle against Fayaaz Alibhai and it would be the young van der Spuy who would lift the silver cup trophy.
SupaDrift Top 16 Qualifiers
1. Shane Gutzeit
2. Zanil Satar
3. Paolo Gouveia
4. Jim McFarlane
5. Richat Kan
6. Zein Hussein
7. Sean February
8. George Myburgh
9. Vic Pardal
10. Des Gutzeit
11. Gavin Puren
12. Riaan Stokes
13. Brendan Puren
14. Azy Reidan
15. Mathys Naude
16. Fred Cooper Jnr.
The tandem eliminations proved to be a difficult time for the judges as it seemed that many of the drivers had been practicing a lot over the off-season. The runs were very often to close to call resulting in a glut of OMTs. Sean February impressed, holding off Des Gutzeit and Zanil Satar in his top 16 and Great 8 battles but would eventually succumb to mechanical failure.
Gavin Puren would eventually take Driver of the Day and second place after qualifying 11th and storming through the pack. Last year’s first round winner, Richat Kan, would have to settle for third after beating out fellow Mozambican, Zanil Satar. The man on a mission though was Shane Gutzeit. After narrowly missing out on the championship in the last few years, Shane has set his sights firmly on the top step for every event this year.
He would take the first win of the season and be the first name engraved on the Riaz Alibhai Memorial trophy.
The next round of the SupaDrift National Series will take place at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town.
Words and Pictures by Lawrence Minnie