A decision by manufacturer and privateer teams running in Class A of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship to stay at home, took away much of the lustre at round three of the WesBank Super Series at the Phakisa Freeway on Saturday.
For Free State fans the non-appearance of the factory Audi, BMW and Nissan teams was a major disappointment, and the controversial decision by the "big guns" to stay away is likely to have repercussions in the corridors of power of South African motorsport.
Despite the absence of the Class A brigade, the meeting produced enough good racing considering all the Super 14 rugby action - to keep a good sized crowd well entertained.
The day produced a couple of notable doubles with reigning South African WesBank V8 Supercar champion Hennie Groenewald and former SA Superbike champion Sheridan Morias the leading candidates for a man of the meeting award.
Groenewald, in the Caltex Havoline Jaguar, strolled to a couple of convincing wins that put him well clear of former champion Grant van Schalkwyk (Hi-Q Jaguar) in this year's championship.
The pair arrived at Phakisa level on points, but it was an unhappy day for Van Schalkwyk. He was third in heat one behind Groenewald and young Jimmy Auby, and was then an early casualty in heat two.
As is now the norm in the WesBank series, the grid for race two was inverted. It is not a system that Van Schalkwyk agrees with and it bit him. An early mix-up saw Robert Briggs (Timken Jaguar), Mark Auby (Jaguar), Van Schalkwyk and Gordon Connolly (Dezzi/Cowan Signs Jaguar) involved in a dust up.
The unfortunate Van Schalkwyk was out of the running on the spot, with Groenewald storming through the field to take his second win.
With no Class A cars to worry about, veteran Iain Pepper, in the PG Glass/Plastomark VW Golf GTi, took both wins. Both wins were comfortable enough with the Production Car officials getting in on the inverted grid act for race two. - Sapa