Although 2023 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars championship leader Julian Fameliaris (Lube-Net / Di Matteo Racing Chevrolet Corvette) missed out on a trio of victories when he suffered an electrical problem when leading the opening race at the Wesbank Festival of Motoring at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit this weekend (25-27 August), he did bounce back to take two GT Class wins to extend his lead. Closest rivals Thomas Reib (Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina) and Mackie Adlem (Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR) both added to their points tallies but also suffered problems that limited their ability to chase down Fameliaris.
In the GT2 Class, Antonie Marx (Reman African Chevrolet Corvette) battled for supremacy all weekend with Larry Wilford (Aurora Bearings Ford Mustang), taking two wins to emerge as the closest challenger to Steve Herbst (PPG Coatings / PREI Instrumentation / QI Systems Chevrolet Corvette) in the race for the GT2 crown in 2023.
Saturday morning’s qualifying session was interrupted just as it got going when Adlem speared off the track and into the wall, bringing out the red flags. After the Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR was recovered, Reib showed that his pace in the practice sessions was no flash-in-the-pan when he set a time over three seconds quicker than the chasing pack, led by Fameliaris. Ben Morgenrood (Morgenrood Ford & Mazda Ford Mustang), back in a Mobil 1 V8 Supercar for only the second time since 2019’s Festival of Motoring, just managed to get the better of Terry Wilford (Fuchs Lubricants / Schick Ford Falcon) to take third on the grid. Warren Lombard, racing a borrowed Jaguar XKR after his PepBoys Automotive Ford Falcon was not repaired in time for the event, did enough to take fifth place on the GT grid alongside Sam Dahl (Arcprotech Ford Falcon) with Adlem, who didn’t set a time, lining up at the tail of the GT grid.
Larry Wilford led the GT2 class from Marx, with Auke Compaan (Hurricane Motorsport Ford Mustang) and Herbst on the second row. Debutant, Andrew Katay (Katay Racing Chevrolet Corvette) had to withdraw following a handful of practice laps on Friday due to engine issues.
In the opening heat, it looked like Reib had things under control, although Fameliaris was never more than a couple of car lengths adrift. Adlem made a quick charge through the field and was slowly closing the gap to the leading duo, but still had a lot of hard work to do to join the fight when Reib’s gear lever came adrift, leaving him stuck in second gear. Fameliaris was quick to take advantage, grabbing the lead, with Adlem making a pass a few corners later, demoting Reib to third. Unfortunately for Fameliaris, less than half a lap later, an electrical problem caused his car to cut out, and he coasted to a halt on the side of the track, handing the lead to Adlem with Reib taking second. Behind them, Morgenrood eventually opened a gap over Terry Wilford, with Lombard and Dahl, who were both slightly off the pace, a bit further back. Wilford pushed a bit too hard and spun out, leaving his car stranded on the side of the track in a dangerous position, forcing the race officials to bring out the red flag. With 75% of the scheduled distance completed, a result was declared, giving Adlem the win, with Reib hanging on to take second. Morgenrood took third ahead of the leading GT2 pair. Lombard, sixth on the road, took fourth in GT ahead of Dahl, with Fameliaris and Wilford classified fifth and sixth in GT.
The GT2 race was a great dice between Larry Wilford and Marx, with the pair often fighting over the same piece of tarmac as they swapped positions. Wilford was in front when it counted, taking the win with Herbst completing the podium after Campaan could not take the start after the oil pump in his car failed.
Terry Wilford got a great start in the second heat, shooting through to take the lead into the opening corners while pole-sitter Reib was forced wide and spun, leaving him stranded on the outside of turn two. By the time he restarted his car, he was way off the back of the field. Wilford’s great start, however, came to nothing as a braking problem at the top of the hill saw him spear off the circuit and into the tyre barriers. This handed the lead to Adlem, who had Fameliaris in his wheel tracks with Lombard a bit further back in third. Lombard’s borrowed car didn’t have the pace to stay with the leading pair, and he slowly dropped down the order. Reib was going the other way, charging through from the back of the field to get up to third, setting the fastest lap of the race on the way. Ahead of him, the pressure Fameliaris was exerting on Adlem finally paid off, with the championship leader taking advantage of a small gap that Adlem left going into turn two just before the halfway mark. Although Adlem was within striking distance for most of the rest of the heat, Fameliaris had things under control and took his first win of the weekend. Aldem had to settle for second ahead of Reib, with guest driver Morgenrood in fourth.
Marx and Larry Wilford resumed their battle at the head of the GT2 field, swapping positions through the race as they did in the first heat. This time, Marx was in front when it counted, taking fifth place overall and claiming the GT2 win. Wilford was just under two seconds back in sixth overall, with Lombard in seventh. Dahl and Herbst were the last classified finishers in eighth and ninth.
The weekend’s final race started with a partially reversed grid, which Terry Wilford led away. His advantage did not last very long, and Morgenrood took the lead, closely followed by Fameliaris, Reib and Adlem. Reib’s race ended after just one lap when his gearbox failed, promoting Adlem to third. A couple of laps later, Fameliaris took the lead, but Morgenrood, with the chance of his first win in two years on the table, didn’t let the championship leader pull away and re-took the lead, which he then held until the chequered flag. With just a couple of laps to go, Adlem suffered a puncture that ended his challenge and promoted Marx, the GT2 class leader, to third. Lombard was next ahead of Herbst, whose fifth place on the road gave him second in the GT2 class. Dahl ended in sixth despite a fuel problem on the final lap. Adlem and Larry Wilford, battling an electrical gremlin, were classified seventh and eighth.
Lombard’s never-say-die attitude in a car that wasn’t as quick as the competition was rewarded when he took the weekend’s overall victory from Fameliaris and Dahl. The GT2 Class went to Marx, with Herbst and Larry Wilford joining him on the podium.
Speaking after the Kyalami event, African Group Lubricants Marketing Manager Nicole Jooste said, “It was great to see the tight battles in both classes that entertained the crowds here at the circuit where African Group Lubricants’ partnership with V8 Supercars began five years ago. One of the highlights was seeing the spectators run to the fence the second they heard the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars emerge onto the circuit for their out laps. The fans were also inquisitive about the range of Mobil lubricants, successfully put the test in the fierce, high-speed races. This is the same level of engineering you can rely upon for your road car or commercial fleet.”
The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars now make their way to Zwartkops Raceway, where the penultimate round of their 2023 season takes place on 13 and 14 October.
Mobil 1 V8 Supercars would like to acknowledge and thank African Group Lubricants for making the 2023 season possible. Please visit our brand partner at https://aglubricants.co.za/
Issued by Brandsponential on behalf of African Group Lubricants
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