Simon Murray debuted his new Ginetta G57 at Kyalami on Saturday and promptly set the new outright fastest lap at the revised iconic racetrack during the first Pirelli Sports and GT race before going on to dominate the non-championship SA Endurance series one-hour race, winning by over a lap.
Packing 575bhp into 900kg pushed along by a 6,2l Chevrolet V8 engine, the car is eligible to race in any open global sportscar series and sports state-of the art aerodynamics.
Having raced the car overseas before making his purchase decision, the good news for SA Motorsport fans is that this car is staying in the country for at least a year and will be seen in the SA Endurance Championship.
The opening Pirelli Sports and GT race was a thriller. Murray was a tad slow off the line which allowed Jaki Scheckter in the Lamborghini into second place. It lasted just two laps before Murray re-took the position from Scheckter, diving down the Lambo’s inside line into Crocodile Corner. He set off after Charl Arangies’ Aston Martin Vantage and the two cars circulated with two tenths of a second over the next seven or eight laps. On lap eight, Murray made a daring pass on the Aston at the final turn, taking to the kerb but the move was ultimately unsuccessful and the two leaders battled to the flag. Last lap traffic saw Murray drop to 0.9 seconds off the Aston as they crossed the line.
The second race was very much a repeat of the first with Charl Arangies’ Aston Martin leading the way. With hotter temperatures and the Michelin tyres working hard, Murray was 3.1 seconds down in the early part of the race. As the car’s tyre temperatures stabilised, the Ginetta reeled in the Aston until the pair was just 0.47 seconds apart by lap seven. Murray again set the fastest race lap, with a time of 1 min 43.776 seconds, about half a second slower than his new outright lap record of 1:43.212 set in cooler conditions earlier in the day.
Mindful of the upcoming one –hour endurance race, Murray settled for another second place, giving him second overall on debut a superb performance and one which gave the race fans around the circuit something to talk about long after the sun had set.
The Africa Endurance race, a year-end non-championship event saw a field of 49 cars take to the track, led by Simon Murray’s Ginetta who had qualified on pole position.
Murray was into an immediate lead, intent on maximizing his track position during the remaining daylight, which was fading fast as the race started an hour late. An early yellow flag and safety car period saw the Ginetta head to the pits for the compulsory pit stop just six minutes into the race. Murray emerged back in the lead and after twenty minutes of racing, he had a lap in hand over second placed Jaki Scheckter’s Lamborghini Huracan. As the light faded quickly Murray was flashing his lights to warn the slower cars of his impending approach.
He later said: “The guys on the track were great – they made way for me very quickly without compromising their own race”.
After an hour’s racing and with an apparently easy victory under his and the Ginetta’s belt, Murray said: “The car did exactly what it was designed to do. I could have easily have done another hour at the same pace but my neck muscles are especially sore. It wasn’t an easy race as you are pulling two to two-and –a-half Gs of force through the fast corners. There was a lot going on on the track with so many cars all around and there were big speed differentials. It took a lot of thought and planning to pass the slower guys but hats off to them, they were well disciplined”.
“The lads from the Ginetta factory who came out to help WCT Engineering learn about the intricacies of the car have been a fantastic help. I did a lot of research before buying the Ginetta and had several races in Europe during the year. The support from the Ginetta factory has been tremendous and I’m looking forward to the 2018 season.”
The good news for South African motorsport fans is that the Ginetta G57 will be racing in the 2018 African Endurance series giving local spectators around the country the chance to see one of the most sophisticated racing cars in the world compete on local soil.
Issued on behalf of Simon Murray Racing.
Photography by: Dave Ledbitter
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