The 12 heat Mobil 1 V8 Supercar championship came to a exhilarating close on Saturday at Zwartkops Raceway. A third consecutive V8 title for Mackie Adlem (Jaguar XKR) was a mere formality, while the Triple Crown sprint series trophy was the last prize to be claimed. Adlem and Franco Di Matteo were the only two candidates left for the Triple Crown and by the end it was the Italian Stallion who took the crown in style by dominating the whole weekend.
Although the grand finale was all about Adlem versus Di Matteo, the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars had already lived up to all expectations throughout the season. Terry Wilford (Ford Falcon) and Thomas Reib (Chevrolet Lumina) had both led the championship and no less than five different winners and 10 different drivers have climbed the podium. To top it all, eighteen drivers scored points during the action packed season.
In the four practice sessions on Friday, under scorching hot conditions, it was Mackie Adlem who set the pace with the fastest time of the day. Although Adlem was the fastest man on the track, it was Di Matteo who spent the most time working on a different set-up and managed to top the table twice during Friday.
Saturday mornings qualifying saw an unchained Di Matteo taking on the whole field. Nine minutes into the qualifying session, the red flag came out and forced the field back into the pits. Adlem was on provisional pole position when the session resumed and only Franco returned to the track to set a blistering lap. He was the only driver to break the 1 minute barrier around the 2,4 kilometre Pretoria track and took pole position with 0,8 sec over the rest of the field.
With the top 5 of the championship occupying the front of the grid, the midday 10 lap race went underway. From the moment GO, it was Franco who led the way ahead of Adlem, Reib, Terry and Larry Wilford (Ford Falcon). The duel between Di Matteo and Adlem lasted six laps until Adlem had to retire with an accelerator problem. Franco was able to take control and set the pace for the final four laps to take the checkered flag ahead of Thomas Reib, Terry Wilford, Corrie Volschenk (Ford Falcon) and JP Nortje (Chevrolet Corvette). Adlem with his 13th position and last position scored the remaining point and secured his third consecutive title in the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars. With Franco’s win, fastest lap of the race and his earlier pole position, he alongside had gathered enough points to secure the Triple Crown.
With all trophies awarded, the reversed grid second race was going to be a humdinger and it didn’t disappoint the crowd. Steve Herbst (Chevrolet Corvette), starting from pole position, managed to retain the lead for the first three laps. That is, until Franco Di Matteo stormed through the field from 13th on the grid to take the lead. The other front runners of the opening race needed significantly more time to work their way up to the front. Reib and Adlem battled it out and were gradually
gaining on Franco when they collided at the halfway mark of the 12 lap race. This relieved Franco from the chasing pressure and took his second win of the day. JP Nortje salvaged his second half of the season with a second position and Mackie Adlem still managed to take P3.
“This was an unbelievable race for me, taking home all the silverware. It’s too bad that I had to miss one full round this season, otherwise I could have fought harder for the title. But, I am extremely happy with the performance this year and very pleased to be winning the first ever Triple Crown series”, said an ecstatic Franco after the race.
“This was one of the hardest title fights I have had so far and the victory tastes sweet. I am already looking forward to next season, but first it’s time to celebrate” Mackie added to the post race interviews.
“2019 was our first year of partnership and title sponsorship of the V8 Supercars. The response to this partnership has been overwhelming and we are well on our way to making Mobil 1 a household name in South Africa again. Centlube and Mobil 1 are honoured to continue our sponsorship of the V8 Supercars in the 2020 season. We look forward to building on the successes of 2019, Said Nicole Jooste Distributor Marketing Manager (DMM) for Centlube.