The Sasol Racing Subaru WRX STIs arrived at Phakisa Raceway bristling with a number of technical changes in preparation for the Bridgestone Production Car Championship’s home stretch where the title race is a wide open affair.
Sasol Racing’s Hennie Groenewald was lying a close second in the title race before Phakisa and SP Race Engineering opened their box of tricks to give the multiple motorsport champion a chance at fighting for the title over the last races of the season.
“It was a bold move to potentially risk sacrificing the Phakisa meeting to conduct real-time testing”, said SP Race Engineering’s Team Principal Carel Pienaar. “While the results don’t reflect the positives, I am happy with the speed of the car and we have the best handling car in the series. In addition we have resolved brake cooling issues but there is a lot of work to do before the Sasol Race Day at Zwartkops in three weeks time”.
The Sasol Racing Circuit Team drew wide interest from the Free State crowd, the biggest seen at Phakisa in years. ‘The Team was a big attraction to the Free State spectators who have a strong loyalty to the Sasol brand which was born in the Free State”, Carel added.
Practice and Qualifying:
Free practice on Friday went well for Hennie and Richard with no issues raising concern. Hennie qualified 2nd on the grid while Richard had a turbo failure on his out lap and had to start from the back of the Class A grid.
Races 1 and 2:
Hennie shot off his grid spot and was in the thick of a huge fight for the lead over the opening laps of the 6-lapper until the engine’s coolant and oil temperatures went of the dial. He elected to pit to fix the problem for race 2 and was unclassified in the first race.
Starting from the pitlane for race two, it was clear that the temperature problem was back and he cruised around to end 7th and bag a few vital points.
Richard blasted past a few cars from his lowly grid position and around the opening lap in the first race, moving up to 7th position in spite of various temperature warning lights vying for his attention. Richard aborted the second race when his oil temperature climbed to unsustainable levels.
Hennie started 7th on the grid and was up in to 5th place off the grid, taking to the dirt to get past the slower starting BMWs of Leeroy Poulter and Darren Lobb. After a bit of a nudging match with Poulter, Hennie was 4th and settled into the task of catching the works BMWs ahead when the oil temperature again went well over 100 degrees. He cruised around to the finish, ending a disappointing weekend.
Richard had his strongest race in spite of driving “with one eye on the temperature gauges”. He suffered a delaminating tyre over the last three laps but held on the end 7th.
“Motorsport is about constant innovation and continuous evolution”, said Carel. “We need to conduct an internal audit to see where we are and where we need to be before the Sasol Race Day, which is a very important race meeting for us”.
Fans can follow the Team’s fortunes on Facebook: facebook.com/#!/pages/Team-Sasol-Subaru/220187314675725
Team Sasol Racing gratefully acknowledges their partners Subaru, AutoZone, MIR Sports Clothing and Shatterprufe windscreens.