As they did the last time the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars series visited Phakisa Freeway back in 2021, Franco di Matteo (Deltec Batteries / NHR Mining Jaguar XKR) and Julian Fameliaris (Lube-Net / Di Matteo Racing / GWR Chevrolet Corvette) shared the race wins at the third round of the 2023 championship held at the Free State circuit on 26 and 27 May.
Di Matteo set the quickest times in Friday’s practice sessions, leaving him confident before the late afternoon qualifying session. There he was comfortably fastest, taking pole position by almost six-tenths of a second from defending champion Mackie Adlem (Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR). Terry Wilford (Fuchs Lubricants / Schick Ford Mustang) went three seconds quicker than he had been all day to take third place on the grid alongside Warren Lombard, who was back in his Pepboys Automotive Ford Falcon after racing a borrowed car last time out at Red Star. The top two in the championship, Fameliaris and Thomas Reib (Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina), filled the third row of the grid, Reib getting the better of the championship leader to start in fifth after Fameliaris suffered with a fuel pressure issue in the session. Carl Nel (Gears For Africa Chevrolet Lumina), having his first outing for the season, and Steve Herbst (PPG Coatings / PREI Instrumentation / QI Systems Chevrolet Corvette) rounded out the top eight.
Di Matteo led the field away from pole position in the opening heat with Adlem in his wheel tracks. Wilford and Lombard were next up, followed by Reib and Nel. Fameliaris dropped to seventh from the start but still had a comfortable gap to Herbst. Fameliaris was soon back to sixth after Nel spun and fell to the back of the field while the leading pair pulled away from the chasing pack. Things stayed pretty static, with Di Matteo and Adlem in close proximity up front, Wilford and Lombard comfortable in third and fourth and Reib and Fameliaris battling for fifth and sixth until just after the halfway mark when Fameliaris got past Reib. Lombard’s car cried enough a corner later, and Fameliaris was up to fourth. He then set about closing the gap to Wilford. It took him until the final lap, but Fameliaris got past Wilford to take third place behind Di Matteo and Adlem. Wilford ended in fourth ahead of Reib and Herbst.
Reib led the field away from the reverse-grid second heat with Lombard alongside him. Wilford and Fameliaris were a row back, with the top two in the opening heat occupying the third row. Fameliaris was a man on a mission, and it didn’t take him long to move to the front of the field, where he had an untroubled run to the flag. Behind Fameliaris, it was initially Lombard in second, but Adlem soon found a way through, with Di Matteo also finding a way past the Pepboys Automotive Falcon later the same lap. A rare mistake by Aldem dropped him to fourth and handed second place to Di Matteo. Aldem was able to get past Lombard for a second time to cross the line in third place ahead of Lombard. Wilford and Reib ended in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Di Matteo took the winner’s trophy in the day’s overall standings, with Fameliaris and Aldem joining him on the podium. Fameliaris now has a 45-point advantage at the top of the championship standings. Reib remains in second place, but his advantage over Adlem has been trimmed to just two points. Di Matteo’s good weekend has moved him up to fourth ahead of Lombard, with Wilford rounding out the top six.
African Group Lubricants’ Marketing Manager Nicole Jooste highlights the superb racing throughout the field. “While Franco, Mackie and Julian dominated the day, it was a good contest throughout the field, nothing less than what can be expected from the most powerful series in South Africa. The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars delivered a good show ahead of the halfway mark in the season which will see them visiting Gqeberha for the first time in four years. On behalf of African Group Lubricants, I sincerely want to thank all involved for being the best partner in the most gruelling testing grounds for our range of products and always flying the Mobil 1 flag high.”
The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars competitors now make their way to the Aldo Scribante Circuit in Gqeberha for the fourth round of the 2023 championship, which takes place on 16 and 17 June.
Published by: Brandsponential on behalf of BMW Car Club Gauteng
Photography by: Jason Hanslo
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