The annual trek to the Free State for the annual Phakisa 200km race took place last Thursday as we hit the road to the cold, flat piece of the country where we race in this longer, but super fun race.
Friday morning I set out for the first practice session, and the car felt good, it was just quite bouncy, but this was to be expected as parts of the circuit have a few bumps, which keep you honest. Particularly those in the braking zones.
But the car felt good, and I managed to set a time of 2.07:180, which is a little off what we have done there previously. But with an underpowered car and 200kg overweight, with the rather hard suspension, causing slightly more bumpiness than desired, this was a time we were happy with. We knew we could maintain this for the long race distance on Saturday.
This was more evident with the day’s sessions continuing.
Session 2 and a little slower with the quickest lap being a 2.08:676. Session 3, Wouter decided to go show me what we should be doing and did a 2.08:169! (he sure showed me)
In the last session of the day, I was back in the 7’s zone with a 2.07:245.
Saturday saw us qualify at midday and I managed to pull a 2.06:874 one-lap-wonder out of the bag, which put us an impressive 31st on the grid out of 55 cars!
A huge field with an impressive variety of cars and off we went with a rolling start, just keeping my nose clean and avoiding those who thought they would win the endurance race in lap one on the third corner. My car was in one piece, and it was race time, with Alex Marques (one of my SuperHatch rivals) right behind me. It was as if we were in a sprint race, but eventually, he got the better of me as I hopped through the 3rd and 4th corners he got the gap and passed me.
There was racing throughout, with fast cars passing, slower cars being passed and cars all around you no matter what. But then a horrible vibration on the wheels was getting worse, and I chose to pit. I told the team to check the left wheels for me as I had a vibration, but they confirmed all was fine and I set out, with the vibration getting even worse. I chose to pit again as I was going to hand the driving duties over to Wouter. But he decided that Luan (I’m sure this was so that no more time sheets were showing me as quicker than him, you know that same day, same car, same conditions thing. It takes most excuses out of the equation.)
Luan did one lap and came in with a blown right front tyre (so I had clearly given a very precise instruction, with the team only checking the left for me on the previous stop). A new wheel and tyre and off he set, he kept it nice and tidy and brought the car home in one piece, and got down to a 2.07:586. We finished in 32nd place overall, and the same on the index result which was naturally compromised with the 3 pit stops, this also meant a 5th in SuperHatch class A and 12th overall in SuperHatch.
So all in all a good day in the saddle, even without silverware, it was a great event, and we had no major issues, and the car came back the way it arrived at the track, in one piece.
The next round of the championship will be at the Sasol Race Day – Extreme Festival at Zwartkops on the 12th of August, where we plan to improve a little more.
Mel Spurr – SuperHatch #64