Hodges claims Masters crown at Engen Volkswagen Cup in Killarney

 

The penultimate round of the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship in the Western Cape on Saturday saw the series claim its latest Masters champion. Mathew Hodges (M1 - Sourcit / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters) sealed his

 

victory in this category with a round of the championship still to be run - at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, November 7.

The battle for the overall championship is ongoing and now goes to the final round at Zwartkops, with the fight to the finish between Sheldon van der Linde (1 - Champion), Hodges and Daniel Rowe (2 - Ferodo). Van der Linde remains the firm favourite, but Engen Volkswagen Cup racing is notoriously fickle so the outcome at Zwartkops is far from a certainty.

 

Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass) produced an outstanding performance at Killarney this weekend, qualifying in pole position for race one and three and finishing second in race one (which later became a race victory when officials ruled a protest in her favour), winning both races two and three and finishing first overall for the day. This is Pepper's best race day to date in the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship and she was rewarded with Driver of the Day for her achievements in the Cape.

 

A first for the Engen Volkswagen Cup series was the appearance of the new Volkswagen Polo that will be used for competition in this series from 2016, replacing the current Volkswagen Polo Vivo. Still in prototype form, it competed in all three races, piloted by Shaun La Reservée (9 - Alpine Motors / Compendium Insurance). La Reservee could not race after damaging his car during practice on Friday. The new Engen Volkswagen Cup Polo was provided for him to test the car under race conditions.

 

At one point, La Reservee had managed to successfully overtake 11 other competitors - and his team had not had time to set it up completely for competition. Since the 2016 prototype Engen Volkswagen Cup car is not quite finalised - and does not comply with current regulations, it ran without scoring points, but consistently produced some of the fastest laptimes of the day. The Killarney event saw Van der Linde win the first of the three races scheduled for this round of the championship - but was later relegated to a second place result. He didn't have it his own way though, as Pepper was already fighting tooth and nail to beat him to the line. With the battle raging ahead, Rowe and Hodges were involved in a battle of their own - which saw the pair fighting for the upper hand right up until Rowe passed on the finish line.

 

Race two's inverted grid put the race winners in reverse order for the top six finishers. Chris Shorter (33 - Hollard) went straight into the lead, but a mistake in Dam's Corner allowed Pepper to slip through and head for the chequered flag, followed by Shorter and Hodges.

 

In race three Hodges' rear hatch opened, costing him valuable track position and the race was red-flagged after an incident that saw Michael Gibson (21 - Grand Prix Models) roll in Cape Town corner. After the restart and the combination of both race results, it was Pepper first, followed by Shorter and Van der Linde.

 

With Van der Linde even more certain to claim the championship at Zwartkops, the real fight will be taking place behind him - for second place. Hodges has already claimed the Masters title, but will he be able to best Rowe in the fight to take second spot overall? Rowe's record this year has shown him to be a talented competitor with a strong race strategy. Hodges has a championship-winning record and has already claimed his title for the season. Between the pair, the outcome has everyone guessing .

 

RACE ONE:

 
  1. Sheldon van der Linde (1 - Champion)
  2. Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass)
  3. Daniel Rowe (2 - Ferodo)
 

RACE TWO:

 
  1. Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass)
  2. Chris Shorter (33 - Hollard)
  3. Mathew Hodges (M1 - Sourcit / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters)
 

RACE THREE:

 
  1. Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass)
  2. Sheldon van der Linde (1 - Champion)
  3. Chris Shorter (33 - Hollard)
 

OVERALL:

 
  1. Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass)
  2. Sheldon van der Linde (1 - Champion)
  3. Chris Shorter (33 - Hollard)
 

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS:

 
  1. Sheldon van der Linde (1 - Champion) - 360
  2. Mathew Hodges (M1 - Sourcit / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters) - 315
  3. Daniel Rowe (2 - Ferodo) - 313
  4. Tasmin Pepper (31 - PG Glass) - 273
  5. Chris Shorter (33 - Hollard) - 271
 

MASTERS:

 
  1. Mathew Hodges (M1 - Sourcit / Phoenix Signs / 959 Panelbeaters) - 156
  2. Trevor Bland (M2 - Nutritech / Motul) - 129
  3. Juan Gerber (M8 - Glasfit / Ctrack) - 101