The excitement is building for the 2017 Hankook National Formula Vee Championship. The calendar for 2017 has been confirmed and will consist of 8 rounds. It will see the return to Redstar Raceway for the second time and then we will also return to the revamped Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. The most anticipated event will most likely be the return to Cape Town in September, to build on the massive success of last year’s event. The event had 22 cars on the grid with 10 participants from the Southern Regions Formula Vee Club. The guys have been working non-stop to develop and restore cars to have more competitors on the grid than the Northern Regions guys.
The new Formula Vee committee is working hard to arrange a get together as kick off for the year and the invitation for the event arranged for the 12th February 2017 has been sent to all competitors.
If last year’s racing was anything to go by, the year should be a close fought affair. Some races had the first 5-6 cars split by less than a blink of the eye and the championship went down to be decided only in the final heat race of the year!
The main protagonists for the year will most likely be 2016 Champion Gert van den Berg who will surely try and repeat the 2016 success. The other regulars, Jaco Schriks, Symm Grobler and Peter Hills will be out in full force to try and take back the crown they have all previously worn. Most dangerous of these will be stall ward and chairman Peter Hills. After his car was damaged in the 50th-anniversary celebrations, he is frantically rebuilding and will be a force to be reckoned with. This year, Greg Wilson will also prove a tough challenge. After missing some early races in 2016, he was consistently in the lead bunch at the end of 2016.
Other serious contenders will surely be Lushen Ramchander, who was mostly part of the lead bunch and 2016 Rookie of the year, Lendl Jansen who had a couple of fastest laps. Ross Rugheimer can easily run with the group as he definitely found some speed towards the end of 2016, most notably at Redstar where Ross set the fastest lap as well. Liam Pienaar will also be a force to be reckoned with. After rolling his car early in 2016 he missed some races and had some reliability struggles, but he has proven he has the outright pace.
Geoff Tugwell, Brandon Hills, Barry du Plessis all struggled with some reliability issues during 2016, but they have shown serious improvement by constantly bettering their personal best times during the course of the season.
Ben Pienaar, Ernie Vermaak, Fred Rugheimer, Shaun van der Linde will not be fighting for championship positions as they might not be at all the rounds, but that doesn’t mean they are not in for some serious racing! They will be mixing it up with the regulars and taking points off unsuspecting drivers.
Lastly, in the North as part of the national competitors, we will see the debut year of Namibian Siyabonga Mankonkwana. He has karting experience and will be out to prove that he is a serious contender.
Then, Byron Mitchell, Southern Regions Formula Vee Champion, intends racing some of the National races during the year. Although he will not be in the race for the National Championship, he has a good chance of chasing the lead bunch and causing some upsets.
This comprises the Northern guys. Most of who will participate in the National Championship.
The guys from the South are just as excited and they have been building cars to expand the grid and specifically to expand the Formula Vee presence in the local Power Series. Currently, the Southern Regions Champion, Byron Mitchel, will have his hands full with Elroy Vice, coming back with a bang after he wrote off his car in October. Richard Carr will also be there to chase them to the flag, as he has shown regularly. Other drivers on the grid who could easily be on the pace are Thomas van der Merwe, William Vice, Sean le Riche, Damian White, Delano Fowler, Dylan Mitchell and Isabelle Fowler. All these guys and girls are in essence rookies as they have been building cars and racing Vees for only 2016. This class has grown in Cape Town and they will all be working to get closer to the National competitors, and will surely do so.
Formula Vee is now in its 51st year of having National Championship status, and with the group of guys and girls racing, this class can run another 51 years.