The Investchem Formula 1600 national championship debuted their modernised single-seaters at Killarney on Saturday, March 25, at the opening round of their 2017 championship. It did not take long for the top three to set the tone for the weekend – and at a rather quick pace.
Julian van der Watt (42 – Race Driver SA) set himself up as the driver to catch, ensuring he claimed both race victories on the day. Stuart White (8 – Fantastic Racing) had no plans to make those victories easy, though, recording the fastest lap of the first race – which was also the fastest lap for the series on the day (1:15.642 on the 3.267 km circuit).
Alex Gillespie (50 – ERP Trucking Components) rounded out the top three positions. Van der Watt, White and Gillespie proved themselves quickest for the weekend, taking the top three steps of all podiums on race day. The fight from fourth to sixth saw the drivers playing a game of tag, with Dean Venter (77 – Desco SA / Manitou Group), Joshua Dolinschek (117 – Makita Power Tools) and Brad Beningfield (46 – General Energy Systems) trading places on track in both races.
For race one, Venter claimed fourth spot followed by Dolinschek and Beningfield. The second race saw Beningfield jump to fourth, with Dolinschek leading Venter to the finish. This duel could prove more interesting as the season progresses, especially considering Venter’s pace saw him lose third place to Gillespie by 0.5 of a second in the first race.
It has been made clear from the outset of this season that the updates to the Investchem Formula 1600 race cars have yielded only positive results for the series – the addition of wings and other aero devices as well as the change of tyres have both updated the series and ensured it remains extremely competitive.
The Investchem Formula 1600 championship has seen another addition for 2017, the Flippen Fast Females. Here Donny Lamola (14 – Investchem / First Race) has been joined by Paige Lindenberg (23 – Investchem / First Race) to compete together in the national open-wheel championship. Great friends off the track, the pair are focused on competition on track.
For Lamola, a regular in the Investchem Formula 1600 championship, the new season is about getting acquainted with the new design of the race car. Lindenberg has some hard work ahead as she acclimates to the concept of a single-seater race car, considering her motorsport experience has only been in tin-top series without even the benefit of karts.
This will make 2017 an interesting season for the pair as they do battle in the Investchem Formula 1600 Class B category, where they finished second and third to Ian Schofield (10 – Investchem) for the day.
One member of the field that will be looking to put round one behind him is Allen Meyer (15). Clutch problems saw him sidelined for the entire event and his first opportunity to race this season will be at Kyalami the weekend of April 22.
It has been a fast and exciting start to the 2017 national season for the Investchem Formula 1600 field. With lessons learned – and the data accumulated at Killarney over the two-race day by all competitors – the Kyalami outing should, a month from now, provide even closer racing as the fight for those elusive first points of the season hots up.