"A MASTER CLASS IN GRAND PRIX DRIVING"
Mansell (1st), Warwick (2nd) & Fittipaldi (3rd) set early pace in Free Practice session The inaugural Altech Grand Prix Masters South Africa got off to a spectacular start today as the 15 Masters (inc. reserve E.Salazar) took to the historic track for the opening two Free Practice sessions. Many drivers have not driven the fast undulating circuit for over a decade back when the circuit was clockwise in direction.
Today's anti-clockwise layout served as the ultimate proving ground for the 600 horse power GP Masters cars and with minimal driver electronic aids on offer, race fans were treated to a jaw-dropping display of race car control with the Masters power sliding their way through the unforgiving high speeds bends of Kyalami. Britain's Nigel Mansell (1st) and Derek Warwick (2nd) claimed top spots ahead of Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi (3rd) during the second Free Practice session. Varying fuel levels, different tyre types and set-up changes mean the times are not strictly reflective of the pace. This will be truly determined by tomorrow's qualifying hour. All the drivers kept their trouble-free machinery on the track and with a 30% chance of rain predicted for tomorrow's qualifying and Sunday's race, the much anticipated battle of the legends promises to deliver some action and performances of an epic kind.
Nigel Mansell (UK): "I have only one complaint from today and that is these guys behind me need to slow down! My last three runs were right on the limit and I must say this track takes quite some getting used to. After putting on new tyres I had a lot more grip than I had earlier this morning and it was a lot more comfortable. Kyalami is one hell of a race track. We were hitting speeds of around 180mph in places today and I know it's going to get even more competitive over the weekend. Everyone is pushing the limit and even though many of us haven't raced in anger for over a decade one thing is clearly evident from today nothing has changed. Out instinctiveness, hunger and competitive desire remains intact."
Derek Warwick (UK): I last drove competitively in Grand Prix racing in 1993 and am therefore very pleased and surprised to be as quick as I am today. When you're a long time out of the car you start asking yourself a lot of questions like, are you going to be brave enough? Is it going to frighten you? But I feel comfortable in the car. I think we have all experimented with different types of tyres today and having found the right rubber, the grip out there is simply staggering in these cars. The cornering downforce levels are mind-blowing out there and I have to congratulate Scott Poulter (CEO, GP Masters) and the team for what is a stunning job. I really do feel humbled to be in the company of such great drivers albeit alarmed at how mighty fast they still remain. I am not sure what the weekend holds but if today is anything to go by, it will be awesome! We are all good mates, yes, but let's see how friendly we are come Sunday afternoon!"
Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil): "These guys are very very fast indeed! It's difficult to keep up with them! They are truly crazy! After I had my massive crash in Michigan a few years back, I thought that was it for me. No more racing. I was then invited to Silverstone two weeks ago to test the GP Masters car and then made the decision to come here. It's very enjoyable for me to be driving a super fast machine again and delighted to be racing with these guys. I'd like to congratulate everyone within GP Masters for successfully putting this together. Very few people thought it would happen and even less could have predicted what we have seen today, and this is only the Friday session! We have a fantastic team and 15 cars with the greatest names in the world - I'm proud to be amongst them and I hope this is going to be a great show come Sunday. It will be a very fast race and I ask one thing to everyone - slow down a little!"
Scott Poulter (CEO, GP Masters): "We have witnessed history in the making today and what these drivers demonstrated out on track has surpassed even our wildest expectations. The bravery, tenacity and sheer skill on display today was breathtaking. Fans, sponsors, media and team members alike were mesmerised by what was only a practice session! The weekend promises to re-crate some magical driving and I am sure we are in for some aggressive duelling out there. Alongside our partner Altech, I am extremely proud of what both team and drivers have achieved in such a compressed time frame. We have lost sleep, yes, but the end dream has been worth every last effort. Everyone here is still pinching themselves, especially me!"