Welkom. 9th June 2019: “Exhilarating” is a single word to describe Round 3 of the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars at Phakisa Freeway last weekend. Mechanical challenges, tactical strategies and hard battles were plated for the crowd in the Free State and it was value for money for everyone involved. By the end, Mackie Adlem came out as the biggest winner, even without a victory. The reigning champion is now in the lead of the championship.
The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars met their Waterloo on Friday (7th July), when a mix of interrupted practice sessions and technical gremlins were thrown at the field. Two of the three practice sessions were shortened due to oil spillage and incidents, leaving the pit crews in dismal. Ian Young (Ford Falcon) and Corrie Volschenk (Ford Mustang) could pack up and return home with damages beyond repair after the second practice, while Steve Herbst (Corvette) and Auke Compaan (Jaguar XKR) had their work cut out for the overnight ahead with serious technical challenges.
With only two new tyres available to the competitors for the weekend, qualifying got underway in the late afternoon. For some, the low standing sun provided an additional challenge over the abrasive track surface. It was Franco Di Matteo (Jaguar XKR) who took his second pole position of the year ahead of Terry Wilford (Ford Falcon), Thomas Reib (Chevrolet Lumina) and Mackie Adlem (Jaguar XKR). It was a remarkable fastest lap by Di Matteo, as he was one of the few without new rubber on his Mobil 1 V8.
The opening race on Saturday (8th June) saw an incredible start from Thomas Reib, who took a daring line on the outside and grabbed second position behind pole man Di Matteo. Adlem, Wilford, Fameliaris and Nortje (Corvette) followed suit in the opening lap. Franco immediately cranked up the tempo, and with his fastest lap of the weekend clocked in the second lap, extended his lead strategically. For the first part of the race, Reib managed to hold on to second position but extreme degradation of his front tyres saw him gradually drop back into the field. This to the advantage of Mackie Adlem, who settled into P2. Former championship leader, Terry Wilford, encountered more problems overtaking Reib and dropped back to fifth. Franco took the win with an impressive 7,4 second lead ahead of Adlem, Nortje and Reib.
The reversed grid second race proved to be the spectacle of the Mobil 1 V8 Supercar weekend with some of the best racing imaginable. Mackie Adlem deserved the name Rocket Man, when he took an impressive lead in the opening lap from seventh on the grid. By the third lap, the real battle for the lead started, when a group of 4 was formed. Adlem in the lead followed by Nortje, Reib and Di Matteo. While JP fiercely defended his second position from Reib, Adlem wasn’t able to make a fist and couldn’t open up a gap. Reib tried everything, everywhere to overtake Nortje, but it was his engine that killed his pursuit to victory at the halfway mark of the race. Nortje, free from Reib breathing down his neck, launched his attack on Adlem and managed to take the lead in the 7th lap. Di Matteo who watched the whole race from 4th position, took his chance in the final stage of the race and crossed the line in second behind race winner, JP. Adlem completed the podium in P3.
With his second position, Franco Di Matteo took the overall win and scored extra points for the fastest lap and pole position.
Terry Wilford had a challenging weekend with a double fourth position and lost the lead of the championship to Adlem. Mackie is now 5 points clear of Wilford. Thomas Reib has dropped to third, followed by Di Matteo and Nortje. The next round will take place at the Festival of Motoring at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit on the 23rd – 25th August.