'Don't crash the car!' SA motoring journo's Polo battle at Kyalami

Johannesburg - The VW Media Challenge, held at the inaugural Kyalami Motorsport Festival during October 21-23, eight motoring journalists competed behind the wheel of standard 1.2 Polos.

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post was one of the scribes competing and managed to finish 7th against professional racers.

The event was organised by Volkswagen South Africa and the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.

Race strategy

Sean Nurse (Autodealer) stole a last-gasp victory when he pounced on a last corner error by Mark Jones (The Citizen) in an action-filled race. 

Van der Post, lacking the racing experience of her rivals, nor having any track time at the revamped Kyalami circuit, said she had a simple strategy with two simple goals.

She said: "I was extremely nervous all weekend as my rivals has years of professional racing behind their names, and also knew the track like the back of their hands. I was trying to remember everything I was taught and decided to go on a simple goal - 'Don't crash the car and just finish the race on my own pace'.

"I succeeded and even managed to do better than my first session out on track, albeit ridiculously slow. It's not easy racing against such a competitive bunch and the fact that I didn't damage the car, or crash out is a huge achievement in my books.

WHO, ME? NERVOUS? Wheels24's Janine Van der Post in her VW Media Challenge 1.2 Polo for her very first race at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. 

READ: Kyalami Motorsport Festival - A rookie preps for her first race

"I'd like to thank my support team Deon Joubert and Ernest Page for the great tips prior to the event and Ferdi de Vos for the quick crash course on the track's corners just an hour before the race. To my biggest fan Sass Kloppers for the rooting and advice, and my dearest husband Clavern Van der Post for the never-ending support and love, and for calming my wrecked nerves."  

Van der Post says there was a 9th mystery racer on track, known as The Driver.

"I don't know who mystery 'Driver' was, but he was on a mission to take everyone else out on track. And, if I hadn't almost been taken out on the last corner, on the lap, I would have stayed ahead of Ignition's Lindsay Vine-Smyth.

Watch the Volkswagen Media Challenge at Kyalami here:


Michele Lupini (Bakkie & Car magazine) took third, somehow managing to move his silver Polo ahead of the hard-charging Mark Smyth (Business Day), Andrew Leopold (SA Car fan) in fifth holding off the mystery "Race Driver".

The man in black was however clearly having issues with his car which seemed to slow periodically.

Lindsay Vine (Ignition) and Van der Post rounded off the finishers. Denis Droppa (The Star) retired with similar issues to that of the mystery Race Driver's machine.

The race was run on a handicap basis, with the first few cars setting off on their own before the quicker five were dispatched together. It didn't take too long for trouble to begin. Droppa and Lupini caught Vine at the new Crowthorne Corner (Turn 1), Lupini jinked to avoid the slower car, tagged Droppa and the two collided and swerved wildly, but continued.

Car gremlins

That served to bunch the field and set off a very busy three laps with the field jostling wildly for position as it gradually inverted out of its reverse grid-start order, with van der Post initially out front and some way clear of Jones, who held a fair gap to Leopold, Smyth, Droppa, Lupini, Nurse and 'Race Driver' close behind.

Several wild moves later, the field had swallowed-up van der Post, Droppa fell back with his car issues and Jones led the closing Nurse, Leopold, Smyth, Lupini and the struggling 'Race Driver' ahead of Vine and van der Post.

With two laps to go, Nurse was right on Jones' rear bumper, while Lupini had somehow leap-frogged Smyth and Leopold, with the mystery 'Race Driver' struggling behind.

Smyth managed to pass Lupini going into the final lap, before Lupini pulled off another huge braking move to pull ahead into the Bowl, but up front here was even more drama as Jones, who had diligently staved off Nurse's best attention, slid wide in the last corner to allow Nurse through to steal the win.

ON THE GRID: SA's motoring journos line up on the grid for the Volkswagen Media Challenge at Kyalami. 

An appreciative crowd rose to give the duelling scribes a standing ovation on the slow-down lap and there were smiles all round as the Polos arrived back in the pits before the prize giving, group picture and the spinning of many a yarn. "I think a beer is in order!" a delighted Nurse demanded. "That was a fantastic race and seriously fun to dice with Mark Jones, Michele Lupini and the rest."

Mark Jones admitted: "Sean Nurse deserved the win. I c**ked-it up proper in the last corner, but he was quicker and all over me. Well done Sean."

Michele Lupini, the SAGMJ Committee member responsible for motorsport, said: "The Volkswagen Media Challenge is another great Guild mission accomplished - not only has it delivered brilliantly in media returns so far, but the lads put on a stunning display and Sean and Mark really impressed today.

"Each and all contributed to a splendid show and Volkswagen is hoping to run more races like this - bring it on!"

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