Arnold Neveling, the latest signing by Signature Motorsport, headed up the team’s efforts in the opening round of the 2020 Oettinger Polo Cup this past weekend (March 13-14) at Zwartkops Raceway.
The weekend saw the trio of drivers setting the pace in Friday’s practice sessions, but the unexpected heat experienced in Qualifying severely hampered their efforts in the new split-format being used by the championship.
Neveling (#11 Ferodo Volkswagen Polo GTi) just missed out on the Superpole Shootout and lined up for Race 1 in seventh place. Completing a well-controlled race despite some carnage around him, he brought his car home in sixth place. In Race 2 he again kept his cool just behind a fierce battle for the lead to finish in third place; taking his career-first race podium.
“Admittedly I had a few nerves heading into the weekend, but our pace on Friday settled them quickly and I felt confident heading into Saturday. I was disappointed not to make it into the Shootout, but backed myself to show good race pace. The overhead conditions caused our engine temperatures to run hot, but I was focussed to bring the car back home with some good points. In Race 2 we had a very good battle and I’m really happy to have brought home a podium finish. It was my first competitive outing at Zwartkops and I’m looking forward to maintaining this pace at Killarney, a circuit where I have competed before.”
Matt Shorter (#22 Monroe Volkswagen Polo GTi) found himself in 11th place on the grid and the victim of early contact on the opening lap, but fought back valiantly to finish Race 1 in fifth place. In Race 2 he started 10th to finish seventh; bringing up the rear of a multi-driver battle for second place.
“We had the pace on Friday, but I think we all know that it is important to carry this into the business end of the weekend. In Race 1 I was able to pick up positions after a very close encounter early on which thankfully didn’t hurt my chances too much. We took home a good amount of points though from both races and we’ll need to keep building on this.”
Chris Shorter (#33 Champion Volkswagen Polo GTi) Qualified in eighth place for both races. Following an early incident, he found himself having to fight his way up from the back of the field to finish in 16th place. In Race 2 he had a tough battle with his engine running hot which compromised his pace and ability to fight for positions.
“The overheating problems started in Race 1 which prevented me from moving up higher in the order; especially with Push-to-Pass virtually being nullified. I had a good start in Race 2, but on Lap 3 the overheating problem re-emerged which left me vulnerable without the chance to counter-attack. I’m looking forward to bouncing back in Cape Town though.”
The second round of the 2020 Oettinger Polo Cup Championship is scheduled to take place at the Killarney International Raceway on April 17-18. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak within South Africa the calendar could be amended by Motorsport South Africa, the Extreme Festival or a hosting venue at a later stage.
Signature Motorsport would like to acknowledge the following partners for making their 2020 Oettinger Pole Cup season possible: Champion, Monroe, Ferodo, Polyjohn, Armal and Express Hire.
Published by: Reynard Gelderblom
Picture Caption: Arnold Neveling took his maiden Oettinger Polo Cup podium
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