Port Elizabeth 22 September; It was – almost – worth the seven year wait for the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars to return to the coastal track of Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth. The action packed weekend will go down in the books as the best V8 Supercars race of the year, with just one round to go. The top 3 championship leaders, Adlem, Wilford and Di Matteo fought as hard as they could on the tarmac, but it was Mackie who, in essence, cemented his championship for 2019.
Practice and Qualifying
On Friday (20th September) Franco di Matteo and Mackie Adlem were the only two Mobil 1 V8 Supercars racers who broke the 1 minute barrier around the 2,4 kilometre track. In near perfect racing conditions, qualifying went underway on Saturday (21st September) morning. Franco di Matteo immediately set a killer pace and clocked three consecutive 59 second lap times. Mackie Adlem had his sights set on the second spot, until the last minute when championship runner up Terry Wilford took P2 for the opening race. Larry Wilford and Izak Spies completed the top 5.
Absolute pandemonium is the best way to describe the opening race, and a treat for the spectators on the embankments at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack. It took three restarts for the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars to finally get their 12 lap show going without complications. The scariest moment was for Auke Compaan, when he spun his car after the Esses, blocking the racetrack. Miraculously, the whole field passed him unscathed. Franco di Matteo maintained his lead through all the restarts, and took an early lead from Terry Wilford, Mackie Adlem and Larry Wilford. Terry Wilford was the first top runner to drop back when his gearbox got stuck in third gear. Coming up on Di Matteo in the remote distance, Adlem got his slick tyres to work and started closing the gap. With two laps to go, Adlem clung to the back of di Matteo with Larry Wilford in a safe third position. In a final attempt to take the win, Adlem out-braked himself and touched di Matteo in the top hairpin corner. Adlem didn’t lose much time but saw the laughing third, Larry Wilford, pass to take the win for race one. Rookie Julian Familiaris completed the podium in third. Di Matteo encountered difficulties completing the final lap and crossed the finish in ninth. After the race, Adlem displayed true sportsmanship, as he immediately went to Franco to apologize for the unintentional incident.
The reverse grid second race always poses an extra challenge for the top-runners, and this time it was no exception. Mackie Adlem managed to take an impressive lead in the opening lap, after avoiding a collision with Julian Fameliaris and Antonie Marx. Terry Wilford, starting from 7th on the grid, followed suite hot on Mackie’s tail. It took Franco di Matteo another two laps to take third position – but then clicked it up a notch and took the lead while setting a new lap record for the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars around the Port Elizabeth Track. Franco never looked back and crossed the line with an impressive four second lead ahead of Mackie Adlem, Terry and Larry Wilford.
“It was a spectacle of note for the large contingent of spectators this weekend. There was a lot of anticipation for our series, returning to the Aldo Scribante racetrack, and we delivered an incredible show. From race incidents, close battles and heated conversations, the spectators were served the complete show!”, said V8 chairman Terry Wilford. “It was long overdue and all the racers enjoyed the Aldo Scribante track, and in particular the enthusiastic crowd.
Mackie Adlem basically has the championship in the bag with one round to go, but the Triple Crown has yet to be decided. Behind the reigning champion, everything stays open and the final rostrum can still be filled by a select few.
On the 8th and 9th of November the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars return to their home ground, Zwartkops Raceway, for the highly anticipated final Round.