Gary Formato added yet another notch to his smoking motor sport gun when he underlined his growing international stature with a superb win in the final round of the SportsRacing World Cup at the Vodacom Speed Festival at AA Kyalami at the weekend.
Formato, partnered by German Ralf Kelleners in the Kremer Lola Roush Ford, cut it rather fine and were just 3,3 seconds ahead of the BMS Scuderia Ferrari 333SP driven by Italian Marco Zadra and Austrian Phillip Peter after 150 minutes of racing.
A fuel pick-up problem four laps from the end, with Kelleners taking the final stint, saw the German come into the pits for a splash and dash fuel stop. All that saw a comfortable 55 second lead for the Kremer car dwindle to almost nothing.
Formato took the first stint at the wheel and in the early stages had a terrific dice with the third placed Nicolas Filiberti/Giovanni Lavaggia GLV Brums Ferrari 333SP. Once he got his nose ahead of the Brums Ferrari, the young South African set about consolidating a lead that turned out to be a highly important one.
"It's great the win a race like this in front of your home crowd, but the whole team was on tenterhooks over those last few laps," said Formato. "Apart from the late problem we had a clear run.
"After running into a few problems in the series this year, I am hoping today's performance will go a long way towards securing a drive with a top team for next year's championship."
Formato and Kelleners won the Class S1 category in the SportsRacing Cup formula with the S2 category going to Swedish pair Stanley Dickens and Frederic Ekblom. The Swedes were sixth overall after a good battle with British drivers Peter Owen and Mark Smithson in the Pilbeam Nissan.
For the first time outside the United States, the SportsRacing entries ran alongside two South African categories. The WesBank V8 Challenge and Vodacom Sports Prototype formulas were given a taste of international motor racing - with the legendary Sarel van der Merwe back in victory lane.
Supervan and Riaan Botma, in a Chevrolet Camaro, were the first South African crew home and 10th overall in the bulky WesBank saloon car. For reigning WesBank champion Van der Merwe it was something of a double triumph, with the lanky South African a regular in the Kremer team during his heyday in the World Sports Car Championship.
"The only problem we had was a bungled first pit stop when we came into a pit lane that was crowded with cars," said van der Merwe. "It cost us three laps but after that it was fine.
"It was a bit difficult spotting the sports cars from a big saloon car, but we managed to stay out of trouble."
The first of the Vodacom Sports Prototypes was the VSP Dodge in the hands of Donovan Roscoe and Wotjek Pieron. A steady drive brought them home in 11th place behind the van der Merwe/Botma entry.
Earlier in the day Belgian Jean Michel Martin and British driver John Wiliams upstaged new world champions Emmanuel Clerico and Benjamen Dessange to win the second heat of the final round of the Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy. Clerico and Dessange, both from France, won the opening heat on Saturday, but in Sunday's race were seven seconds behind Martin and Williams.
Defeat for the two Frenchmen put a top to a winning streak for the world champions. They scored a double at Laguna Seca, in the United States, before coming to South Africa and made it three in a row in the first AA Kyalami heat.
SportsRacing World Cup: 1 G Formato/R Kelleners (Team Kremer Lola Roush Ford); 2 M Zadra/P Peter (BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 333SP); 3 N Filiberti/G Lavaggia (GLV Brums Ferrari 333SP); 4 J Nielsen/C Elgaard (Team Den Bla Avis Panoz Spyder); 5 E Goddard/ Ayari (Durango GMS Mader); 6 S Dickens/F Ekblom (Sports Racing Lola Nissan); 7 P Owen/M Smithson (Pilbeam Nissan); 8 S Wiseman/F Careca (Lucchini Alfa Romeo); 9 R Smith/S Schryvers (Simpson Matrix); 10 S van der Merwe/R Botma (Chevrolet Camaro).
Lamborghini GTR Supertrophy (Race 2): 1 JM Martin/J Williams (Lamborghini Diablo); 2 E Clerico/B Dessange (Lamborghini Diablo); 3 A Garbagnati (Lamborghini Diablo); 4 M Gianni/P Gianni (Lamborghini Diablo); 5 S Ratel/J Barth (Lamborghini Diablo).
Colin Windell firstname.lastname@example.org