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What PABAR VW Challenge Report
Where Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit
When 15-16 December 2023
Community South Africa National

Kyalami Pabar races beg more questions than answers

Kyalami’s Pabar VW Challenge races in support of the Nine Hours may have delivered a surprise victor, but it also asked some most valid questions about what is rapidly becoming a most exciting future for the class. While Cape visitor Nathan Victor won and comeback king Lee Thompson took Class B, it was the manner of how they did that, that raised the eyebrows.

First off, this non-championship race was open to CompCare Polo Cup cars. So, national Cup regulars, Victor’s Summit machine, AF Fans Team Red Lass Tyler Robinson and debutant future Cup driver, VW Junior Academy winner Kyle Visser were welcome Pabar VW Challenge guests over the weekend. But it was the other six Polo Cups entered that have the tongues wagging.

See, those six are all Pabar VW Challenge regulars. And while all have bought cars to compete, they must wait a year to race them in the Pabar series, by way of a Volkswagen Motorsport edict that only allows these cars to race in Polo Cup again in 2024. Still, Class A frontrunners, Wayne Masters swapped his regular Class A Polo 6R for his new Performance Masters Polo Cup this weekend, as did Sabertek father and son Derick and Charl Smalberger.

Same went for Pabar boss Mike Barbaglia and Ferro Energia driver Luigi Ferro. Both were out in their newly acquired Polo Cup machinery which they plan to race in VW Challenge in the future. Pabar newcomer Johan Gouws also plans to run his Cup car in the regional series. They want to race their far more reliable, splendidly engineered and far cheaper to run, albeit more expensive to acquire new Cup cars in VW Challenge sooner, rather than later.

Getting back to the action, Charl Smalberger maintained VW Challenge honour to turn a splendid lap and take pole position for Friday’s opening heat. He put half a second on Nathan Victor, while quickest of the regular Class A runners Dawie van der Merwe lined up third in his Nathan’s Polo 6R. Tyler Robinson and Kyle Visser followed from Wayne Masters, Johan Gouws and Mike Barbaglia.

Derick Smalberger and Luigi Ferro were next among the trio of Class A entries, Miguel Dias’ Performance Masters car, Pozidrive Chris Dale and MDS man Mydi Mfana. They also lined up amidst the front of the Class B runners, namely Stuart Mack’s turbo litre triple Nathans Polo in its swansong as a Class X entry, and comeback king Lee Thompson in the quickest of the old school 8-valve Class B entries.

Famous for coming, seeing, and conquering Polo Cup at Kyalami in Polo Cup a good few years back, Lee did the same aboard his brand new car on Friday. But with a curve ball in hand this time. His new car is a Polo Vivo Sedan, rather than all his rivals’ hatchbacks, and that too threw a four-door cat among those five door pigeons. Was that just Lee? Or is it his different new car? Expect VW to sell a few litre triple engines and sedan Vivo shells soon!

Shiren Rajpaul’s Dubcorp car impressed to lead the rest of the regular 8V hatchback lot from champion Hannes Scheepers’ Dainfern Dental version, Fast 5 lad Mohammed Karodia, Elna Croeser’s ATE Brakes Polo and Jesus Saves’ Jacques Hayes older model Vivo. Stelio Nousias’ We Save Cars car was next from Adriaan de Beer, Ian Walker, Daniel Gammie, Chris Davison, and Josh Wilford.

Class C was mild in comparison, as Andy Gossman put his new Gossmotorsport Vivo on pole from an on form Michael Zapheriou’s Insurisk machine and ATE man Philip Croeser. Dimitri Zapheriou, Allan Pereira and Charl Andersen completed the impressive 33-car grid.

Capetonian Nathan Victor made no mistakes as he got the jump on Charl Smalberger of the line before delivering his first win aboard a Polo in a lights to flag opening heat showing from Smalberger and Tyler Robinson, after Dawie van der Merwe, who won the opening Polo Cup round at Kyalami in January, slowed and stopped on the opening lap.

Wayne Masters held Kyle Visser and Johan Gouws off for fifth, while Stuart Mack showed the true potential of the litre ‘milk bottle’ by beating Mike Barbaglia’s Polo Cup, and Class A top two, Miguel Dias, Chris Dale, Derick Smalberger’s Cup car and Mydi Mfana home. Luigi Ferro missed the opening race on account of having to attend a wedding.

They once again raced among the regular B frontrunners as Lee Thompson’s sedan put one over Hannes Scheepers, Shiren Rajpaul, Mo Karodia, and Ian Walker. Adriaan de Beer was next from Jacques Hayes, Elna Croeser, Josh Wilford, Chris Davison, and Daniel Gammie after Stelio Nousias hit trouble. Andy Gossman made good of his pole start to take the Class C win from Michael Zapheriou, Philip Croeser, Dimitri Zapheriou, Allan Pereira and Charl Andersen.

The second race was red flagged almost as quicky as it started. A multi-car accident left Class A men Dawie van der Merwe and Miguel Dias, Class B lads Ian Walker and Jacques Hayes, and C man Charl Andersen hors de combat. Nathan Victor made no mistakes at the restart, but Wayne Masters mugged Charl Smalberger before Tyler Robinson and Kyle Visser also found a way past and Charl eventually ground to a halt.

Robinson and Visser entertained as Stuart Mack took no prisoners behind them to bring the litre Polo home fifth ahead of Dean Ross, who joined the race 2 action to take Class A in his Norbrake car. Mike Barbaglia, Johan Gouws, Mydi Mfana and Derick Smalberger followed. Next up, Lee Thompson left the rest of the regular B lot, Stelio Nousias and Shiren Rajpaul to play with Luigi Ferro back from the wedding.

Hannes Scheepers and Mo Karodia were next home from Elna Croeser, Josh Wilford, Daniel Gammie, Adriaan de Beer and Chris Davison. Andy Gossman did the Class C double ahead of Michael Zapheriou ,Philip Croeser, Dimitri Zapheriou and Allan Pereira after Class A man Chris Dale joined the retirements.

Interestingly, overall winner Nathan Victor, who also races in Polo Cup and is a Cape Alert Engine Parts GTi Challenge regular, remains unbeaten in four starts in Gauteng Pabar VW Challenge races following his previous wildcard double victory at Aldo Scribante earlier in the season. Mydi Mfana somehow emerged the winner of a Class A weekend of attrition, Stuart Mack took Class X, Lee Thompson B and Andy Gossman Class C.

Kyalami proved a fun and friendly end to a marvellous Pabar VW Challenge season, as much as it asked a few questions and suggested a brilliant future for the series. New rules allow Polo Cup drivetrains to run in older chassis next year, but among those drivers would rather race their new Polos as is. Whether that happens in 2024 or 2025, it will certainly move Pabar VW Challenge forward. As will the new Class B engine, let alone Lee’s limo! Bring it on!

*VW Challenge salutes its partners, Pabar Automotive Pressings, Habot Performance Lubricants, Dunlop tyres, Habot Performance Lubricants, ATS Motorsport Supplies, Platinum Wheels, Habot Synthetic Oils, ATE Brakes, Norbrake, Eco Simply Solar, Insurisk insurance brokers, Pozidrive, Eeziparts, Van der Linde Developments, MDS Consulting Engineers, FSS Logistics, and Bush & Buck.

Issued on behalf of PABAR VW Challenge

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