RC Zone in Middelburg, Mpumalanga played a host to the 4th and final round of the SARDA Onroad Gas National Championship. It was always going to be an exciting weekend with some of the championship podium positions still up for grabs, and the imminent threat of rain throughout the weekend. Also, the participation and technical support of Xray Factory driver, Tom Kraegefski, sparked a lot of interest.
200mm Nitro Qualifying
With the 2016 Sprint Championship already clinched by Conrad Liebenberg (Capricorn), you’d think that this would be just another runaway victory. It turned out to be quite the contrary. With Tom Kraegefski (Xray NT1) in the field, Liebenberg would have to be at his best. They did not disappoint and this was most certainly the highlight of the weekend. In the end, Kraegefski edged out Liebenberg to take TQ. Another dark horse this weekend was Willie du Plooy (Xray NT1), who managed to put in some solid runs, and qualify 3rd. He also clinched 2nd in the Sprint Championship with this result.
1. Tom Kraegefski (Xray NT1)
2. Conrad Liebenberg (Capricorn)
3. Willie du Plooy (Xray NT1)
200mm Nitro Finals
The much anticipated race lived up to its promise….for a while. Once Tom Kraegefski (Xray NT1) managed to get into his groove, he streaked away and left everyone in his wake. Willie du Plooy (Xray NT1) and Conrad Liebenberg (Capricorn) has a proper scrap, until they made a contact and sent Liebenberg’s crew rushing to repair a loose shock. This put Jonathan Wilken (Xray NT1) into 3rd. Kraegefski comfortably increased his lead, while Du Plooy suffered a flame-out. This put Wilken into 2nd. Du Plooy slowly caught up, and managed to pass Wilken to take 2nd. The closest battle however, was between Wilken and Liebenberg. With Liebenberg really turning up the pace after his unfortunate incident early on. In the end, Wilken managed to hold on to 3rd place by 0,3 seconds over Lieberberg. This also gave Team Xray their first podium lockout in recent times.
1. Tom Kraegefski (Xray NT1)
2. Willie du Plooy (Xray NT1)
3. Jonathan Wilken (Xray NT1)
1/8 Nitro Qualifying
This was set to be a tightly contested affair with Wayne Joelsen (Mugen), Jacques Liebenberg (Capricorn) and Antonio Caroli (Xray RX8) being the early front runners. Joelsen was very quick throughout the Sprints and managed to secure his 8th National Sprint title, and claim TQ for the Endurance race the following day. Liebenberg wasn’t far behind, but had to settle for 2nd place and also clinched 2nd in the Sprint Championship. Antonio Caroli suffered a little with a very nervous car, but still managed to secure 3rd place on the grid and also 3rd in the Sprint Championship.
1. Wayne Joelsen (Mugen)
2. Jacques Liebenberg (Capricorn)
3. Antonio Caroli (Xray RX8)
1/8 Nitro Finals
With the threat of overnight rain subsiding, and track conditions remaining very much the same as the day before, most of the drivers were confident with their setups and tuning. Unfortunately, Antonio Caroli (Xray RX8) had 2 major incidents in the 10-minute warm-up prior to his race, destroying most of the car in the process. Luckily, he had a spare chassis available and with some spectacular work by his pit crew (Tom Kraegefski and Willie du Plooy), they managed to build and set up the 2nd car within 45 minutes, just in time for the start of the 45-minute race. It turned out to be the best thing that could’ve happened to him, as the car looked better than it has been the entire weekend. Not long after the start, Caroli managed to pass Liebenberg and Joelsen, and stretched away at the front. Then a tragedy struck, again. He suffered a mechanical issue while leading and was forced to stop twice while his pitcrew changed what was remaining of the gearbox. This put him right at the back of the field. Meanwhile, Liebenberg managed to pass Joelsen, and was now leading the way around. Caroli got back on track, and although he was lapping faster than the leaders, he was too far behind to stage any sort of threat to the top 3, and finished 5th. This also bumped Harold van Eeden (Capricorn) to 3rd, having also been quick the entire weekend. In the end, Liebenberg had a comfortable victory, Joelsen 2nd, Van Eeden 3rd.
1. Jacques Liebenberg (Capricorn)
2. Wayne Joelsen (Mugen)
3. Harold van Eeden (Capricorn)