The Engen Xtreme team came away from the penultimate round of the Sasol GTC Africa at Kyalami in Johannesburg on Saturday feeling it was a job well done, despite drivers Michael Stephen and Simon Moss finishing second and fourth overall on the day.
Sasol GTC Africa leader Stephen finished third in Race One and first in Race Two, while Moss ended fourth overall following a fifth and fourth place finish on the day.
Stephen was strong all through practice in his Engen Xtreme Audi A3. When it came to qualifying, he was just a half-second off the pace of Johan Fourie in an EPS BMW, to ensure he started Race One from second on the grid.
Said Stephen: “It was a good weekend at Kyalami for me. Perhaps not quite the pace we wanted, but still a very good race day. Starting Race One from second on the grid, I finished in third. I could have attacked a bit more, but the championship is more important so I played it safe and took third. For Race Two, starting from sixth place and finishing first and extending my lead ahead of the final round at Zwartkops makes for a great result on the weekend.”
The weekend started badly for Moss with a blown engine in the first practice session. The Engen Xtreme team technicians were able to get the engine replaced and Moss out on track for the third practice, but he was unable to do more than two laps in the qualifying session – which saw him start Race One from the back of the grid.
Said Moss: “A blown engine in practice was not the best way to start the weekend. Then to have the car cut out during qualifying didn't help either. My team did an incredible job to get me back out on track as quickly as possible, but I had to start the first race from the back of the grid. I finished that first race in fifth place though, so I was happy with that result.
“For Race Two, I started fourth and had a great start. From fourth to the lead by the first corner. I built a strong lead but then made a mistake going into turn one and flat-spotted a tyre. Every time I braked that wheel would lock up and that allowed Gennaro to catch up with me.”
Heading into the final round of the season at Zwartkops on 25 November where 111 points will be on offer, Stephen holds an 86-point lead over second-placed sasol BMW driver Gennaro Bonafede. Two solid races at Zwartkops and Stephen will celebrate his second consecutive Sasol GTC Africa championship.
Moss, who still has an outside chance of over-hauling second-placed Bonafede, has all but sewn-up third place in the championship standings as he leads fourth-placed Johan Fourie by 109 points with one round to go.
Championship Points Standings after Round 8:
- Michael Stephen: 616
- Gennaro Bonafede: 530
- Simon Moss: 437
- Johan Fourie: 328