Lady Luck counts against Engen Xtreme Audis at Killarney
13 May 2009
The Engen Xtreme Team arrived at Killarney hopeful that the weekend would
yield the results they have been hunting for since the inaugural race of the
WesBank Super Series in March. Killarney, which is known to be a successful
race circuit for the Engen Xtreme Audis yielded a number of ups and downs
for the team on the day.
In practice on Friday, Engen Xtreme Team Principal, Terry Moss was confident
that the cars were performing well and that though they were hundredths of a
second off favourite and local Capetonian, Johan Fourie, the team still
stood a very good chance of clocking up maximum points on race day.
In Heat 1 on race day, Michael Stephen was quick off the line in the rolling
start, rapidly making his presence known as he occupied third place going
into turn one. Shaun Watson-Smith too was quick off the line and soon made
his way up the field. Shaun was performing exceptionally well, until his
Audi suffered some a mapping failure which immediately resulted in him being
off the pace and slowly dropping places, eventually being lapped by the
Class T cars. The failure was not as serious as it still allowed
Watson-Smith to cross the line in 13th spot, still managing to accrue some
points. Cape Town local, Johan Fourie suffered similar fate when his Audis
engine failed, billowing clouds of smoke, resulting in him retiring from the
race. Michael Stephen powered ahead in third, a position he held until the
In Heat 2 with the inverted grid position Fourie and Watson-Smith were on
pole and breaking from the norm, the race started from a stationary grid
line-up. Off the line Fourie with a newly fitted engine took up first place,
with Shaun hot on his heels. From the outset there was a battle for first
place between Shaun and Johan. Shaun unfortunately just did not have
sufficient grunt to pass Fourie. Further down the field Michael was involved
in a tussle with Da Cunha in the Nissan 350Z. Unfortunately going into turn
one in one of the final laps, Da Cunha clipped Stephens rear, causing him
to run off and spin, returning to the track, relegating him to last place.
Michael powered ahead nonetheless, thus ending any hope he may have had to
follow up on his performance in the previous race. He eventually crossed the
line in 8th place in Class A, with Shaun ending 2nd after a gallant fight,
pushing his Audi to its maximum in an attempt to gain ground on Fourie.
With Michael finishing 6th and Shaun 8th overall on the day, the team is
undoubtedly disappointed with the way things played out, but sets the scene
for a better performance at the next meet in East London in June.