It was a true case of willpower to endure the Cape 9 Hour for Julian Fameliaris, David Coetzee and Lorenzo Gualtieri this past weekend (December 9-11) at Killarney International Raceway with the trio recording a sixth-place finish in Class E of the South African Endurance Series season finale after a host of setbacks, including a change to a spare car.
The weekend started with the team showing good pace in the initial practice sessions, but while bringing the Di Matteo Racing Backdraft Roadster back into the pits at end of Session 5, Coetzee had an accident that resulted in substantial damage to the car.
“David informed us on the radio that the rear (of the car) was stepping out a bit on his final flying lap” said Fameliaris. “The call was made to box, but the problem soon got more severe and he subsequently lost grip. Fortunately, Backdraft Production Series had a spare car for us to utilize, but we didn’t have any time to complete the setup before the qualifying session. Although this resulted in us having to start Saturday’s race from the pits, we at least did not have the concerns over the cause of the failure anymore and could focus on the rest of the weekend. Even better, David was alright as he was not on a flyer at the point of impact.”
With only two further sessions to complete their setup, the trio was ready for the race. In the opening stint, Fameliaris brought them through the field and into second place in the class. Gualtieri took over the driving duties but was forced to park the car on the outside of Turn 1 due to technical problems. This resulted in the Safety Car being deployed while the car was towed back to the pits. Replacing the relevant components did cost the trio some time, but Coetzee was soon able to start his stint and progress to sixth place with three hours to go, also making up some laps in the process. Gualtieri was back behind the wheel soon again and gained another position.
With just under two hours to go, an accelerator problem caused another forced stop for Gualtieri from fifth place but the repair time played into the team’s hands to conduct a driver change as well. Fameliaris moved into the driving seat for the night session and was able to bring the car home in sixth place.
“It would not be an endurance race if we didn’t have a host of challenges to deal with” concludes Fameliaris. “Our race pace in a car that we did not really know too well could not be faulted. We were pushing hard throughout and we were not going to let two setbacks stop us. And this did not just end with us drivers, the team really had to push to get us back onto the circuit in time as well. A superb job by everyone involved.”
Points in the South African Endurance Series are scored per driver. With no less than five drivers sharing the duties in 2021, Coetzee was the one with the highest-ranking heading into the weekend. Starting the round in fourth place on the Class E points table, the result in the double-scoring season finale elevated him to third place on the points table. Fameliaris, who competed in three of the six rounds, finished the season in seventh place.
Published by: Reynard Gelderblom
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