It was an almost perfect day for Team Petronas Syntium Opel in Port Elizabeth today as it took its maiden series win in round seven of the WesBank V8 Championship at its home circuit of Aldo Scribante. Having arrived at the Opel National Race...
It was an almost perfect day for Team Petronas Syntium Opel in Port Elizabeth today as it took its maiden series win in round seven of the WesBank V8 Championship at its home circuit of Aldo Scribante.
Having arrived at the Opel National Race Day in a confident frame of mind following numerous aerodynamic changes to the car in recent weeks, Deon Joubert scored the marque's first win of the year with a comfortable victory in the second race of the day.
The team showed its potential in qualifying when Shaun Watson-Smith held pole position for much of the session before being pipped in the dying minutes by Hennie Groenewald, while Joubert lined up in fourth place with just two tenths of a second separating the first four cars on the grid.
With the first race red flagged on the opening lap, at the restart Watson-Smith dropped a place to Johan Fourie after the latter had made contact with his car at the first corner. The contact affected the handling of the Astra Coupe for the remainder of the race as Watson-Smith struggled to third place. Behind him, Joubert also dropped a place at the first corner as he was also on the outside line, but recovered to re-pass Ben Morgenrood to finish in fourth place.
Race two saw third placed Watson-Smith make up a place at the start, and then challenge hard for the lead in the opening laps until he was forced to retire with a broken oil pipe on lap 5. Meanwhile, Joubert had moved up from fifth on the grid to run in third place, well placed to take advantage of a clash between the leading two cars on lap 13. With the leaders out of the race and a big gap to the next placed car, he had an easy run over the final two laps to take the win.
"I am very happy for the mechanics that the car held together and finished the race as they have worked so hard over the last few days after a series of problems," explained Joubert after his victory.
"I was not as quick as Shaun and the other front runners today because of the lost laps earlier in the week, but I was there at the end and will take the win and dedicate it to my guys who toiled so hard through two all-nighters to make it happen," he added.
Watson-Smith was disappointed after seeing a potential victory slip from his grasp, but was nonetheless pleased for the team. "Although I got a podium finish in the first race, I am naturally disappointed because I felt that I had a good chance to win the second as the car felt so good," he said.
"I had oil on my feet from the warm-up lap so I knew that I would have a problem in the race, but I was hoping that I could get to the front before retiring. On the positive side, it's great that the team has scored its first win and that our cars are now on the pace and competitive with the others. I now feel that we have a chance to win races at every track that we go to."
Opel Motorsport manager Mike Carroll was also pleased to have notched up the team's first win. "I am ecstatic to have taken victory today. Sure we had some good luck given the fact that the leaders fell off, but on the other hand Shaun was right on Fourie in the early stages and felt he could have won fair and square had the car not broken. A win is a win and I will take it," he beamed.
"This was the first race that we could challenge for pole position and the win in dry conditions so I am happy that our performance has improved since the last race. Hopefully, we can now find even more performance so that we can challenge Johan Fourie at every race, and perhaps even have him having to challenge us."