Team Petronas Syntium Opel - AA Kyalami, Midrand, 5 May Team Petronas Syntium Opel is raring to go in this weekend's round three of the WesBank V8 Championship at AA Kyalami following its first test session with the new 370 kW Astra Coupe V8 ...
Team Petronas Syntium Opel - AA Kyalami, Midrand, 5 May
Team Petronas Syntium Opel is raring to go in this weekend's round three of the WesBank V8 Championship at AA Kyalami following its first test session with the new 370 kW Astra Coupe V8 racer.
The team debuted its two V8 Coupes at Killarney in Cape Town on 7 April, but with a build time from scratch of only nine weeks, the cars were literally completed at the circuit and naturally suffered a series of teething troubles that limited effective running. Now, with a month's break between the races, the team has been able to make some revisions to the cars, eliminate the teething problems and conduct a fruitful test session at its home circuit of Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth.
The test proved a success with the cars running reliably and drivers Shaun Watson-Smith and Deon Joubert able to get a healthy number of laps under their belts. "We are still working on the cooling system that gave us the overheating problems in Cape Town, but we have made some changes that are working," explains Opel Motorsport manager Mike Carroll. "More importantly the drivers are happy with the handling of the car, which does not seem to have any vices.
"The team is looking forward to Kyalami to see where we are compared to the opposition. We don't expect to win, but we hope to be at the sharp end of the grid and a podium or two will be a superb result. "Although we hope to do well, we realise that we still have a significant development cycle to go through and many lessons to learn with respect to set-ups for the various circuits, maximising the power from the engine and in other areas of the car," he adds. "Our test went really well and it was good to get a healthy number of laps in behind the wheel," says Joubert. "It's hard to tell if the times we were doing are competitive as we were the only team running, but the car felt brilliant to drive and it was reliable, which is a good start.
"I don't think that we will be right on the pace at Kyalami, but I am sure we will be competitive. If you look at the times we did in Cape Town with no testing behind us, then it's obvious that the car has great potential. I think that if we did not have the overheating problem we would have been right up there with the front runners."
Watson-Smith, who only did a few laps in Cape Town, is also quietly confident. "I feel a lot more confident going into Kyalami after the test. Although we did not do too many laps on the day, it was enough to get a good feel of the car and play with some set-up changes," he says. "The car feels very good to drive and I am really enjoying it - it's a lot of fun and very rewarding to drive. I am still learning a lot on every lap, but I find the Astra confidence inspiring whto learn quite quickly. I still need time in the car, but I feel that we will be near the front of the grid at Kyalami," he adds.