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Race Report – Zwartkops 22 May 2021

This past weekend saw the third round of the 2021 Lotus Challenge series take place at Zwartkops Raceway, the first time we’ve visited the venue this year after the scheduled Passion for Speed event was postponed in January.

The entry list was strong, with 10 Class L racers and 12 Class B making up the grid. Friday’s practice was well attended despite a relatively early start with the 1st of 5 practice sessions starting at 8am. Through the day various niggles were sorted and everyone started to hone their lap times in preparation for qualifying on Saturday morning.

Bright and early on Saturday morning the Class L chaps rolled out the pits in dense, cold air with a slowly warming track from the winter sun. Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Eco Aggregates/ Leet Racing) set the pace once again, as he has done most of the season, qualifying on pole ahead of second place man Nick Hodgson (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) who had close company from Andre du Plessis (Leet Racing). Fourth was a bit of a toss up through the session with Ben Knights and Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) and within a few tenths of each other.

Rookies Andrew Fulton (Sure Travel Set Adventures) and Jurie Cordier (Leet Racing) found a turn of pace to end up ahead of more seasoned campaigners Juan du Toit (Leet Racing/Adlem Auto) and Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Eco Aggregates/ Leet Racing) who had a few lingering gremlins from practice. Matthys de Kock (Leet Racing) rounded off the field but was suffering with electrical issues and could not compete in either race.

Race 1 got underway without incident, until turn 5 that is, when Andre hit some oil and cement dust laid down from the previous race and spun, dropping him right to the back of the field. That left Wesley to pull away up front with Nick in a bit of free air in second place.

Ben and Miles had very little free air separating them at all for the entire 10 laps in a closely fought battle for third, finishing in that order. Andre meanwhile had the bit between his teeth after the first lap spin, cutting through the field to finish 5th.

Pieter made short work of the start, jumping straight into 6th place, then 5th with Andre’s spin. He held 5th until the last lap when Andre caught and passed him. Meanwhile Jurie, Andy and Juan settled into a good battle over the first 4 laps until Jurie managed to break free at the front of the trio, leaving Andy to fend off Juan for the remainder of the race. 

The grid for race 2 lined up Wesley, Nick, Ben, Miles, Andre, Pieter, Andrew, Juan, Jurie. Once again the race started without incident and everyone maintained position, except for Andre who snuck passed Miles who got caught behind a slow starting class B car. Miles rectified the situation on lap 2 through turn 5, taking back 4th place. 

Further back Pieter was enjoying free air in 6th place, which continued until the flag. Andy had managed to create a bit of space between himself and Juan and Jurie. However on lap 3 that came to an end when both passed him.

Shortly thereafter the safety car was deployed for a stranded class B in turn 1, which took up 2 laps while the track was cleared. The restart was fast and furious with the pack now bunched right up. With Miles paying full attention to Nick in second place, he once again let Andre sneak through and a three way battle for 3rd ensued. On the last lap Nick missed a gear going onto the main straight, allowing Andre through. Leaving Nick and Miles to finish 4th and 5th respectively.

Further back Juan led the battle for 7th from the restart but positions changed often in a tough battle with Jurie and Andy driving exceptionally well for their first time out at Zwartkops. Andy managed to take the honours there for 7th followed by Juan and Jurie respectively.

Next up we’re back at Zwartkops for round 4 on 19 June for the rescheduled Passion for Speed event. It’s a big one and we’re all thoroughly looking forward to it.

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Race reports

Race report – Phakisa 10 April 2021

After a bit of a drought, thanks in no small part to Covid-19, the desolate Phakisa Freeway once again played host to a swarm of Lotus Challenge racers out for glory at the venue known for its high speeds and unforgiving surface. 

Class L boasted a field of 10 competitors for the cross border trip to the Freestate. A convoy left Johannesburg in the early hours of Friday morning for arrival in time for the first practice session. 

Friday’s sessions were not without their casualties however, with one broken engine for Andy Fulton(Travelset / Leet Racing), an occurrence rarely seen in class L cutting the field down to 9.

Competitors enjoyed a late start on Saturday morning, with qualifying getting under way at 9.30 am. Wesley Maxwell(Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing) set the pace, taking pole position ahead of Ben Knights and Phakisa-rookie Nick Hodgson(Singular Systems / Leet Racing). Seasoned campaigner Andre Du Plessis(Leet Racing) managed fourth in a car a little down on power. Miles Downard(Singular Systems / Leet Racing) qualified fifth ahead of Pieter van Aardt(Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing), Juan Du Toit(Leet Racing / Adlem Auto Racing / Elska), and the two rookies Jurie Cordier(Leet Racing) and Thys De Kock. 

Race 1 was underway just before the lunch break, right in the heat of the day. The battle up front made things even hotter as Wesley and Ben kept each other honest lap after lap, with Nick not far behind either. Ultimately the podium places were in that order.

Having shot off the line, Pieter found himself fighting André for fourth, until Miles got his nose in front into the penultimate corner of lap 1. 

On lap 2 André stumbled across a rogue class B car allowing Miles and Pieter through. What ensued was a series of overtaking manoeuvres between Miles and André that went down to the wire, with André finishing ahead by just 0.2 seconds. 

Further back Juan and Jurie exchanged blows in similar fashion over the course of the race. A late mistake from Jurie, including an off track excursion, meant Juan finished in 7th with Thys rounding off the field in 9th. 

Race 2 saw the field line up, Wesley, Ben, Nick, Miles, André, Pieter, Jurie, Juan, Thys. 

The field got away more evenly this time, carving a path through the slower class B competitors until it all came to a head going into the fast sweeps over the latter part of the lap. Nick had edged ahead of Wesley and Ben, but a strong slipstream effect saw Wesley come back past and allowed Miles to get a great run and pull alongside Nick as well. Running slightly offline put Nick off the road into the braking zone allowing the entire field past. 

Meanwhile André had a similar run on Ben down the back straight, getting him ahead into 3rd. That lasted a lap as Ben returned the favour at the same point on track and then set off after Miles in second place, who’d built up a bit of a gap. Lap after lap Ben slowly closed in, towing André along for good measure. On lap 6 Ben caught Miles, taking 2nd only to lose the place on the same lap. It wasn’t over though as on the last lap Ben made an early move into turn 3 and maintained 2nd place to the finish, followed by Miles and André. 

Pieter enjoyed a relatively lonely race in 4th. Further back Nick was making a charge through the field after his off, carving his way back up to fifth by the finish but ruing what could have been if not for the early mistake. 

Jurie had a good few opening laps, building a lead over Juan, however Mr consistency made fewer mistakes over the course of the race and caught Jurie with just two laps to go. A tussle ensued with Juan coming out victorious, finishing 7th ahead of Jurie and Thys. 

Overall result

  1. Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing) 
  2. Ben Knights 
  3. Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing)
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Race report – Red Star 06 March 2021

The 2021 lotus challenge season got off to a delayed start this last weekend at red star raceway after the scheduled first round at Zwartkops was rescheduled to a later date, citing Covid reasons. 

Fortunately the field size was not dampened, boasting 11 Class L competitors in the biggest turnout since 2018. This bodes well for the season ahead. 

Friday practice saw competitors dusting off the festive season cobwebs, with 2020 Rookie of the Season, Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) topping the timesheets. 

Qualifying on Saturday morning shifted the goal posts as seasoned campaigner André Du Plessis (Leet Racing) bombed in a stellar lap for pole, followed closely by Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing), with Miles some way off in third. 

The midpack was filled by established campaigners with Juan Du Toit (Leet Racing / Adlem Auto) in 4th, followed by Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing), Ben Knights and Nick Hodgson (Singular Systems / Leet Racing). The rookie battle was hotly contested seeing Brent van der Schyff (White Knuckle Adventures / Leet Racing) followed by Jurie Cordier (Leet Racing), Andrew Fulton (Travelset / Leet Racing) and Thys de Kock (Leet Racing).

Race 1

Lining up for race 1 saw nerves high but adrenaline higher as the lights went out. Fortunately everyone got away cleanly and managed to stay out of trouble through the first few corners while the pack settled down. André and Wesley soon found themselves caught up in heated battle, while having to navigate Class B backmarkers. Miles tried to stay close but just couldn’t maintain the relentless pace set by the front two, despite their fierce battle.

Meanwhile Pieter made his way into 4th after a tussle with Ben in order to set off after Miles who had built up a decent cushion in some comparatively clean air. Ben unfortunately suffered a DNF after a stone went through his radiator on lap 5.

Further back Jurie, Juan and Nick were having a ding dong battle, finishing in that order ahead of Andrew and Thys. Brent had an alternator problem on lap 3 and coasted back to the pits.

Up front Wesley found himself in second place on the second last lap but had André in his sights down the main straight, making a move on the back straight to take the lead. Wesley managed to stick to the front and took the win in heat 1 by 0.65 seconds. Pieter had been steadily gaining on Miles for the latter part of the race but ran out of laps, ending under a second off the last podium spot.

Race 2

With fastest times from Race 1 determining the grid for Race 2, Class L lined up as follows: Wesley, André, Pieter, Miles, Jurie, Ben, Juan, Nick, Andrew, Thys. Once again everyone was off the line without incident. Miles made his way into third into turn 1 then set off to build a gap over Pieter, however found a Class B backmarker in front which allowed Pieter to stay in touch and attack from behind. 

Up front, Wesley managed to force his way past another Class B backmarker, creating a buffer between himself and André. And that’s how things remained for the entire heat, leaving a very frustrated André ruing what could have been.

On lap 7 Miles was caught out in the midfield section, allowing Pieter through into 3rd where he remained until the chequered flag, crossing the line 1.2 seconds ahead of Miles and in doing so sealing the final step of the overall podium for the day by a net 0.6 seconds on total race time over the two heats.

Having sorted his radiator issue out in the break, Ben enjoyed a race-long tussle with Nick and Brent, to finish in that order. Jurie was also involved in the skirmish until an error saw him spin off while making a move on Brent, allowing Juan to take 8th, with Andrew and Thys in 10th and 11th respectively.

Class L has a remarkable depth this season, with close battles throughout the field, catering for all levels of experience and ensuring enormous fun for all involved. We can’t wait for Round 2 which sees us headed to Phakisa in the Freestate on 10 April.

Overall Race Result for Round 1

  1. Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing)
  2. André Du Plessis (Leet Racing)
  3. Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Eco Aggregates / Leet Racing)
  4. Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing)
  5. Nick Hodgson (Singular Systems / Leet Racing)
  6. Juan Du Toit (Leet Racing / Adlem Auto)
  7. Jurie Cordier (Leet Racing) 
  8. Andrew Fulton (Travelset / Leet Racing) 
  9. Thys de Kock (Leet Racing)
  10. Ben Knights
  11. Brent van der Schyff (White Knuckle Adventures / Leet Racing)

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Leet Racing Race report – Red Star 14 Nov 2020

After an unusual year to say the very least, the Lotus Challenge arrived at Red Star Raceway on 14 November for the final round of a shortened, COVID-19 affected season. Understandably the competitor list has dwindled this year but for a last hurrah there were 16 entries for the weekend, comprising 6 Class L competitors of which 5 fall under the Leet Racing banner.

Unusually, the weekend saw Lotus Challenge race heats combined with the National Sports Car Championship (NSCC) which added a new flavour and some additional challenges for the Lotus racers. 

Adding even more spice to the weekend was the fact that Class L’s championship was still up for grabs, where Andre and Ruan were neck and neck. The Rookie Championship would also be decided between Miles and Nick, with just 2 points separating the two newcomers.

Qualifying:

Six Class L drivers rolled out of the pits for a bright and early qualifying on Saturday morning. The battle at the front saw Andre du Plessis (Leet Racing) take pole ahead of rookie Nick Hodgson (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) who continued his strong qualifying form. Outgoing 2019 champion Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing) ended the session 3rd after Ruan van der Walt suffered problems having completed just three laps, still managing a time good enough for 4th. Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing) and rookie Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) had a tough battle for 5th with just 0.067 seconds separating the two. Juan Du Toit (Leet Racing) rounded off the field. 

Race 1:

Andre Du Plessis had a strong getaway and led into turn 1 while second placed Nick Hodgson bogged down slightly which allowed Wesley Maxwell ahead. Up front Andre soon put a few Class B cars between himself and the chasing pack however Ruan van der Walt was busy slicing through the Class L field from fourth. 

A mistake at the end of the back straight put Ruan onto the back of Andre, which saw the lead change hands in turn 1. An opportunistic Wesley Maxwell pounced into turn 2, rubbing salt into Andre’s wound.

At this point Nick Hodgson was just about hanging on to the leading three, while further back Miles Downard and Pieter van Aardt were nose to tail around the circuit, swapping positions regularly while keeping an eye out for fast approaching NSCC front runners.

On lap 3 Andre forced Wesley into a mistake through the tight midfield section, out dragging him into turn 6 and setting off after Ruan who’d managed to build up a healthy lead in first. Despite a relentless chase the top three went unchanged for the remainder of the race, with Ruan taking the win ahead of Andre and Wesley. Second place was enough to seal the Class L championship for Andre Du Plessis.

Meanwhile Nick Hodgson had suffered an alternator related issue on lap 5, coasting to a halt in the midfield after being passed by most of the field while the issue unravelled itself. Pieter crossed the line in fourth having managed to hold off Miles while Juan followed in fifth.

Race 2:

With the heat of battle once again pulsing through the drivers veins they lined up for race 2 in the order of Ruan, Andre, Wesley, Miles, Pieter, Nick, Juan. 

Off the line Andre and Ruan were side by side through turns 1, 2 and 3 with Andre managing to use a Class B backmarker through turns 4 and 5 to make his move stick and take the lead.

In the mid pack Miles had managed to fend off Pieter’s advances in turn 1 however was tripped up by a Class B car in turn 5 which meant Pieter came back at him to take fourth through the tight middle section of the track. This saw a resumption of the race 1 battle as Miles spent the next 4 laps attempting to make a move stick but eventually fell off the back of Pieter, who then set off after Wesley for third position (and third place in the championship). Juan followed Miles and Pieter in the first few laps and then spent the remainder of the race dicing (and avoiding) a fairly wild Class C competitor.

Nick once again suffered reliability problems, this time not even making it off the line when an HT lead came loose on the warm up lap. This handed the Rookie Championship to Miles right off the bat. 

Meanwhile at the front Andre was having a bit of a yo-yo tussle with a Class B car, catching him in the technical sections only to have the more powerful car pull away on the straights. This allowed Ruan to close right up on Andre on the last lap. Coming onto the back straight Andre had to back off to avoid the B which allowed Ruan past and take victory. 

Pieter had capitalised on the free air in front of him and caught Wesley on the last lap, who was suffering with a misfire. It was easy pickings then which saw Pieter take the 3rd step on the podium for the heat and seal 2nd in the championship.

Overall results for the day:

1st Ruan van der Walt (Strap King / Adlem Auto Racing)

2nd Andre’ du Plessis (Leet Racing)

3rd Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing)

Class L Championship Results:

1st Andre’ du Plessis (Leet Racing)

2nd Ruan van der Walt (Strap King / Adlem Auto Racing)

3rd Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing)

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Leet Racing Mini Race report – Zwartkops 25 July 2020

The first race for us “post” Covid19 happened with rather short notice and was hampered by other plans that had already been made. Nevertheless Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing racer Pieter van Aardt was keen to get back on track, and together with another entry in class L, Ruan van der Walt, braved the cold. Rather fortunate for us the days racing happened without incidents, and fun was had. Race 1 was won by Pieter after a DNF by Ruan, while Ruan took race 2 victory after managing to get his car back up and running. Overall victory for the day for Pieter in the nr 18 Leet Racing racer.

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Leet Racing Race report – Red Star 7 March 2020

The Lotus Challenge got its season underway this last weekend at Red Star Raceway near Delmas. A healthy entry list of 23 competitors included 10 entries for class L with three new rookies. Leet Racing cars comprised 7 of the 10 entries, with another being Leet Racing supported.

Weather played ball over Friday practice and Saturday’s race day, with sunny skies and mild temperatures, making it easier for competitors to brush off the cobwebs since last running in 2019.Qualifying:Ten eager class L drivers rolled out of the pits for qualifying on Saturday morning. The battle at the front saw 2019 champion Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing) fighting it out with Ruan van der Walt (Strap King / Adlem Auto Racing) and Juan Du Toit (Leet Racing / Adlem Auto Racing / D Coetzee) while Andre du Plessis (Leet Racing) and Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing) squabbled over fourth. Rookie Miles Downard (Singular Systems / Leet Racing) made a surprise appearance in 6th just a tenth ahead of Ben Knights while Nick Hodgson (Singular Systems / Leet Racing), Jurie Cordier (Leet Racing) and Phillip Addicott (DB Projects / Leet Racing) rounded off the field.

Race 1: With starting positions settled for Race 1 the drivers lined up for the start, which turned into a bit of a shambles when marshals waved the green flag before everyone had sorted themselves out on the grid. Having made a stellar getaway Andre du Plessis found himself in second place behind Wesley Maxwell. Race positions swapped twice, Andre taking the lead and then Wesley taking it back. On the last lap Wesley got a little out of shape allowing Andre to pounce and take the lead which he maintained to the chequered flag. When the lights went out Ben Knights quickly rectified matters from qualifying jumping ahead of Miles. Juan Du Toit, Pieter van Aardt, Ben Knights and Ruan van der Walt fought over 3rd place, with an impressive Miles Downard managing to keep up. The van Aard / van der Walt / Knights train eventually pulled away a bit from the rest and managed to catch up to the battling front runners. Ruan had an unfortunate spin on some old oil and the race ended with van Pieter 3rd, Ben in 4th and Ruan in 5th. Juan took 6th spot with Miles in 7th, Nick, Jurie and Phillip in that order all managing respectable race finishes.

Race 2: With the heat of battle once again pulsing through the drivers veins they lined up for race 2 in the order of Ruan, Pieter, Andre, Wesley, Ben, Juan, Miles, Nick, Jurie, Phillip. The start was a good one this time around, aside from a stranded class B driver whose car broke a side shaft at pull off. Most avoided the stationery obstacle but unfortunately Miles ducked out from the mid pack just as they approached the hazard and it was too late to avoid contact. With debris littered across the track the race was red flagged while marshals cleared up for a restart.

As the lights went out a second time everyone got away cleanly. This time it was Ruan who survived the hard charging Wesley followed home by Andre in third. Wesley managed to lead part of the race but Ruan gained back his lead in the last part of the race. Pieter slid back into fourth while the remainder of the field followed in starting order aside from Nick who suffered an alternator problem allowing Jurie to slip by on the last lap.

With the season’s first blood going to Wesley, the other title hopefuls will be relishing the 24th of April when Class L resumes battle at Phakisa.

Overall results for the day:

1st Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing)
2nd Andre’ du Plessis (Leet Racing)
3rd Pieter van Aardt (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing)

Class L Leader board:

1st Wesley Maxwell (Vibro Ecco Aggregates / Leet Racing)
2nd Andre’ du Plessis (Leet Racing)
3rd Ruan van der Walt (Strap King / Adlem Auto Racing)