The third stop in the 2017 Investchem Formula 1600 championship tour is the East London Grand Prix Circuit. Here this national single-seater series will compete in the Extreme Festival on Saturday, May 20, contesting two races on the day.
With two rounds completed, it is Julian van der Watt (42 – Race Driver SA) that leads, with four race victories in the bag. Add two bonus points for pole position qualifying and a point for the fastest lap at Kyalami and he is 10 points ahead of his nearest opposition, Stuart White (8 – Fantastic Racing).
White has scored four second-place finishes and a bonus point for the fastest race lap in Cape Town so far and is positioned 10 points behind the leader and 10 points ahead of third-place rival Alex Gillespie (50 – ERP Trucking Components).
After the East London event this could look rather different, because White will miss the East London round of the national single-seater championship. He will compete in round three of the French Formula 4 Academy event in Pau, France this weekend following up on the recent Monza event in Italy where he produced a podium finish.
This effectively hands Gillespie whatever points he can amass during round three with no competition from White. He has appeared on the podium for three of the four races and will look to East London to continue this trend, adding a few more podium finishes to his list of achievements.
For Gillespie though, it might not be quite so easy. That one podium finish he didn’t score was taken by Cameron O’Connor (93 – Repro Supplies / Racing Factors).
It was the first podium result for O’Connor and could signal the start of a run on podium finishes by the young racer. If he is bold enough in his approach in East London, he could become a threat in the points stakes as the season progresses – adding an extra dimension to the Investchem Formula 1600 championship.
In the Over 40s and Ladies category, Ian Schofield (10 – Investchem) is the frontrunner. Two dominant performances at the Killarney and Kyalami rounds have seen him surge into the lead, nearly double the points tally of his rivals.
With Paige Lindenberg (23 – Investchem / First Race) fast adapting to this new series – East London will mark her third event in the Investchem Formula 1600 championship – things could change for Schofield as the season progresses. As one half of the Flippen Fast Females of Investchem Formula 1600 competition, Lindenberg will have the support of Donny Lamola (24 – Investchem / First Race) out on track so Schofield’s battle might be with two competitors rather than just one.
With a circuit which encourage high-speed racing and the race-specific nature of single-seater race cars it is a perfect match for an exciting race day.
Even with White racing in Europe, the Investchem Formula 1600 championship will still field 15 competitors in East London for the third round of their championship. A tough day awaits, with close racing expected from an eager field of competitors which should make this round a highlight for 2017.