Opel Motorsport Team Petronas AA Kyalami preview

Having scored its maiden win in the series last time out, Team Petronas Syntium Opel arrives at AA Kyalami this weekend in a confident frame of mind for another strong performance in round eight of the WesBank V8 Championship. Although Deon ...

Having scored its maiden win in the series last time out, Team Petronas Syntium Opel arrives at AA Kyalami this weekend in a confident frame of mind for another strong performance in round eight of the WesBank V8 Championship.

Although Deon Joubert's second race win at the Aldo Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth turned out to be a little fortuitous, the team had been competitive throughout the weekend and was well poised to score a deserved win with Shaun Watson-Smith until his car struck mechanical problems. With the car's improved performance, both drivers are confident of a good result this weekend.

It has been a year of rapid progress for the Port Elizabeth-based team after they started the season as newcomers to the series with the Opel Astra Coupe. The Astra Coupe is more road car based than the opposition, which has put it at an aerodynamic disadvantage compared to the US Trans-Am based cars.

However, the team has toiled away with numerous new aerodynamic tweaks for each race that have seen the cars become more competitive with each outing to the point where they are now serious challengers for victory at every meeting and under all conditions.

For this weekend's race the Astra will sport a few more minor aerodynamic tweaks, but after a period of rapid development on that front, the team has also spent more time working on reliability as up to now the primary focus has been on extracting extra speed from the car.

"We have not made any major changes to the car since Port Elizabeth and have not been able to test due to the tyre limits, but we are confident that the Astra Coupe will be competitive once again," says Opel Motorsport manager Mike Carroll.

"We have notched up our first win, which is always the difficult part in motorsport, and there is no reason why we can t continue in that vein. Last time out at Kyalami we qualified third and fourth on the grid and ran strongly in the race before striking problems. Since then the cars have been improved a vast amount, so we are hoping to be able to put up an even stronger showing and be able to challenge for victory this time around," he added.

Debut winner for the team, Joubert, is convinced that there is more in the way of victories to come for the team. "I was a bit fortunate to win last time out, but after all the problems we had in practice, it highlighted the depth of the team and the inherent speed in the car that we could bounce back like that. The Astra Coupe has come along in leaps and bounds this year and I am confident that it now has the pace to be competitive at every track and in all weather conditions. One win has given the team the taste for victory and we all want more," he says.

Watson-Smith was disappointed with retirement in Port Elizabeth as he is convinced that he could have won the second race on merit. "Obviously I am disappointed as we had the pace to win the race but reliability let us down. It was unavoidable that the team had to focus its development on pace rather than reliability, but with the car now being competitive it has been able to focus on the reliability side too," he explains.

"Once again the car has been improved for this race, and once again we will go to the race with a better package than before, which certainly means that our chances to win are better than before. Also, we now have our debut win under our belts, which is always more difficult. I am confident that we will be competitive at Kyalami and am hoping to come away with at least a win."

-Opel Motorsport

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Series General
Drivers Shaun Watson-Smith , Mike Carrol