The Engen Extreme team's highs and lows at Kyalami

Monday, 24 August 2009

The Engen Xtreme team had a gut wrenching weekend at the Kyalami Race Circuit providing a host of thrills and spills in the team camp.

In practice on Friday the Xtreme team did well to improve on their recent performance in East London by doing well in the practice rounds. It was evident that the team was always in with a chance; however a last minute modification to the width of the car's rims, more testing was required than anticipated, calling for a different suspension set up for the Kyalami circuit, absorbing most of the valuable test sessions.

The final test session, in practice two, with all cars on new tyres, it was evident that Michael Stephen showed the race winning pace, with the top three within a few thousands of a second, Shaun was still setting up and settling in but also had pace to achieve a good result.

In Qualifying the Saturday morning the Xtreme drivers, Michael Stephen and Shaun Watson-Smith Audi's qualified 3rd and 5th respectively. Unfortunately, Michael admitted to making a mistake on his flying lap, but even so the team would not have managed pole, as the cars had lacked the outright one lap wonder pace in qualifying.

As Heat 1 got under way, both drivers quickly made their way up the field. The race was dominated by Johan Fourie, with Shaun assuming 3rd and Michael 6th place (after a coming together with Leeroy Poulter), until the Safety Car was deployed after an accident involving Gary Formato in Class T. The race unfortunately did not get underway again, thus ending any hopes that Shaun may have had of making a challenge for the top spot.

In Heat 2 with the reverse grid in place, the race too was marred by early accidents allowing the Xtreme Audi's to assume a fortuitous 1st and 3rd place, with Melvill Priest in the other Audi in 2nd. With Priest giving Stephen a real run for his money, some defensive and gutsy driving from Michael staved off any challenge that Priest posed. Melvill Priest who is ahead of Michael Stephen in the point standing was comfortable to assume second place behind Stephen, with Watson-Smith in third place not posing any serious threat to Priest. Priest was later penalised relegating him to sixth place, handing the Engen Xtreme drivers podium finishes at the end of the day.

The team will now return to Port Elizabeth and commence their preparation for the next race and sixth day in the WesBank Super Series in August at the Zwartkops Race Circuit.