Port Elizabeth local stars dominate at Engen National Race Day

Monday, 09 May 2011

Port Elizabeth saw some of South Africa’s most talented racing drivers do battle at the action packed Engen National Race Day on Saturday 30 April 2011, particularly hometown stars Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka who drove their new Engen Xtreme Audi S4’s to a 1st and 5th place overall respectively for the day.

In qualifying both Engen Xtreme drivers Stephen and Sipuka blew away the competition to take 1st and 2nd place grid positions in the Bridgestone Production category. Race one proved to be very exciting and full of action as Audi S4 driver, Stephen took 1st position whilst keeping a charging BMW driver Anthony Taylor behind him. Sipuka found the going more challenging and being held up by Priest and Fourie, completed the race in a hard fought 6th place finish.

The battle continued in race two with Stephen confidently claiming another top tier podium finish with Subaru driver, Hennie Groenewald coming in at a close 2nd behind him. Sipuka found himself again in a hard fought duel for podium status, this time with Taylor and Pinard but unfortunately due to a technical problem experienced in race one, could not improve on his initial outing and again finished in 6th place. Heat three was not so kind to the Xtreme team with Sipuka bumping into a competitor and losing power steering. However due to his great driving skills and the brut power of the new Audi engineering, Sipuka set after the pack recording the fastest lap for the day to finish in 7th place. Stephen sadly had an altercation with a relentless Taylor on the first lap and found himself way behind the pack once he managed to get his Audi back onto the track. In a frustrated and obviously aggressive mood he set about driving his machine to its limits and quickly caught up with the back end of the field. By checkered flag Stephen had redeemed some pride in passing the Nissans and Suburu’s to finish in 8th place. A nail biting race four ended on much more triumphant note for the team with both Stephen and Sipuka showing what their cars are truly made of and by keeping thousands of spectators at their edge of their seats. Both drivers, displayed xtreme racing at its best and were obviously not going to step aside for any of their fellow challengers. Their focused efforts and unforgiving driving proudly delivered a 3rd and 4th finish respectively.

On the VW Cup front, Engen Xtreme Polo driver, Kosie Weyers held a full field of 23 Engen Polo Cup cars at bay during heat one as he chased championship leader, Devin Robertson around the Aldo Scribante track. Although always in touch with the leader Weyers had no answer to the obviously better race set up of Roberts, and ended the battle with a well deserved 2nd podium position finish. Team mate, Miguel Pasqualli had a very disappointing official qualifying and started 21st on the grid. His race pedigree and dogged driving style saw him slowly reel in competitor by competitor to finish an uncharacteristic 15th by race end. Race two proved to be far more challenging for Weyers with him having to start further down the grid. The short circuit and race traffic had a negative affect on Weyers’s usual decisive driving style as he attempted to push up through the field. Come race end, the championship contender managed to finish in a frustrating 6th position for the heat. Pasqualli, although not having a good race set up for the day was determined to improve on first heat performance and managed to complete the race in 11th place.

Overall, Engen Xtreme Polo driver, Weyers kept his championship hopes alive with 3rd place finish for the day and will go into the next race meeting more determined to close the gap between Roberts and himself. 2010 Masters Champion, Pasqualli experienced one of his worst race outings in recent years, finishing in 12th for the day. The result was an obvious disappointment the veteran champion who is hoping to successfully defend his title.

Stephen has now moved into 3rd on the championship ladder and is only 12 points behind the championship leader, while Sipuka is in 6th position on 46 points. Weyers and Pasqualli find themselves in 2nd and 5th in the championship hunt after the third national race event. The Engen Xtreme team’s look forward to the next national challenge in the 2011 season on 4th June at Phakisa and which has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for both formulas. Watch the press for details.

2011 will see Engen continue their support for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and specifically, it’s world renowned Burns Unit. The coming season will see a continuance, where R136 is donated for every point the drivers score during the race season. After the last meeting at Port Elizabeth the drivers accumulated 155 points amounting to R21 080. 

Engen Xtreme Team Standings/ Points

Bridgestone Production Engen VW Cup
Michael Stephen - 3rd place/ 68 points Kosie Weyers- 2nd place/ 60 points
Tschops Sipuka - 6th place/ 46 points Miguel Pasqualli - 5th place (Masters)/ 49 points