After steering clear of all the drama around him, it was his own mistake that cost Bradley Liebenberg the chance of claiming three wins from three starts at the penultimate round of the Falken Polo Cup at Killarney, Cape Town at the weekend.
By using the ‘push to pass’ feature on his car on the opening lap of the third race, he was disqualified from the results – this feature available to drivers only from the second lap.
This year’s Falken Polo Cup may have come down to a two-horse race between Bradley Liebenberg and reigning champion Jeffrey Kruger going into the penultimate round but with 26 Polo GTi entries lining up, this was the largest field for this category in more than five years, and the biggest turn-out yet for the current-generation Polo GTi race car.
Kruger made Friday’s practice all his own, dominating proceedings with the fastest times in all three sessions. However, Liebenberg bounced back on Saturday’s main qualifying session, posting an exceptional time of 1 min 23,863 sec, only for Kruger to snatch the lead in the one-lap Superpole session that determined the starting order for the first race. Liebenberg was second quickest, followed by Matt Shorter, Jurie Swart, Justin Oates and Dario Busi.
Race one saw the two title contenders dash off at the front of the pack, with Kruger holding station initially, but eventually being passed by Liebenberg who took the win by just 0,6 sec. Other than the two leaders switching places, the top six mirrored the Superpole finishing order.
Race two was full of drama, as it was red-flagged after just four laps when Simon Need rolled his car at the end of the extremely fast back straight. The restart for the second part of the race lasted only two laps until another red flag came out following a collision between Darren Oates and Jason Campos. It was another victory in the shortened race for Liebenberg, just ahead of Kruger, Matt Shorter, Oates, Swart and Chris Shorter.
The 10-lap third race looked set to be more of the same, as Liebenberg notched up a hat-trick of victories, taking him one step closer to the 2019 Falken Polo Cup title. However, his elation was short-lived, because of the ‘push-to-pass’ error.
He was thus not classified in the results, which handed Kruger the win to complement his pair of second-place finishes for the day, promoting him back into the provisional lead in the championship, ahead of Liebenberg, with one round remaining.
Justin Oates was rewarded with second place in the revised results, ahead of brothers Chris and Matt Shorter, Jurie Swart and Jonathan Mogotsi who rounded off the top six.
The final round of the 2019 Falken Polo Cup takes place at Red Star Raceway in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, on 25 and 26 October.