Double-jeopardy for Team Sasol Subaru At PE Races
information supplied by: Subaru South Africa
08 August 2011
DOUBLE-JEOPARDY FOR TEAM SASOL SUBARU AT PE RACES
Team Sasol Subaru clocked up 12 starts and 12 finishes in round 5 of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship at Also Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth this past weekend. Richard Pinard top-scored with 4th overall, followed by Tannith Gardner in 5th and Hennie Groenewald in 7th place.
The trio of Subaru WRX STIs battled against the 30kg ‘success ballast’ and drop in boost pressure forced by the series controllers, while on the day, Hennie attracted another 50kg of weight after setting the second-best lap time in the day’s first race, which was good enough to be on the front row in race three.
“The equalization formula clearly doesn’t work”, insists team principal Carel Pienaar, owner of SP Race Engineering. “We are slower than we were at this circuit in April, while the BMWs and Audis are quicker. We carried more weight and scored fewer points than our competitors. I think this was a knee-jerk reaction by the controllers after the Phakisa race, where we also didn’t score the most points. We also don’t gain any performance advantage at the coast”.
Practice and Qualifying:
Hennie’s Friday run in streaming wet conditions was cut short after 2 laps when the engine failed which caused a fire in the engine bay. The team worked until 4am to replace the motor and sort out an electronic problem caused by the under-bonnet fire. Richard and Tannith both had good outings in Friday’s free practice.
With a fresh engine in Hennie’s Sasol Subaru but still not running cleanly, Tannith offered her car to Hennie for qualifying and as a result of a mechanical problem qualified 9th in class while Richard was 6th.
Races 1 and 2:
SP Race Engineering’s technicians worked feverishly to fix the electronic problem in the fire-damaged wiring harness, eventually tracing the fault with less than an hour to go, so all three Sasol Subarus could race. Tannith lined up 10th on the grid, Hennie 9th and Richard 7th.
Hennie raced through the field to 5th, locked in a fierce fight with Melvill Priest’s BMW, but on the final lap was re-passed down the long straight while Richard and Tannith had clean races to end 7th and 8th respectively.
In race two, Hennie was fighting hard with Tschops Sipuka’s Audi when the German machine cut out and Hennie clipped the rear of the car as he tried to avoid driving squarely into the back of the car. The impact broke an intercooler boost pipe, leaving Hennie to cruise around at the back of the field.
Richard made a mistake, running too close to Hennie and went off the circuit to avoid an accident, but otherwise the trio enjoyed an incident free race. Tannith recorded her best production car result with 5th while Richard was 6th. Both benefitted from a penalty awarded against the champion Anthony Taylor who overtook cars under yellow flag conditions, leaving the two Subaru drivers 4th and 5th in the revised results.
Races 3 and 4:
Hennie lined up on the front row of the grid fully expecting to be passed by the end of the long straight. Although the Subaru was a match for the Audis and BMW on lap times, the loss of 20km/h on the main straight as a result of the 80kg ballast added saw Hennie slip to 5th at the finish with Richard and Tannith 6th and 7th.
The day’s final race saw an all-Subaru front row after the grid inversion. Richard let Hennie through and he led the field for two laps before being reeled in by the Audi trio. To cap a less than ideal day, a mechanical problem in the latter stages of the race dropped Hennie behind his team-mates.
Hennie said: “The team made a huge effort to trace the fault in my car and get it race ready. I was 20km/h slower down the straight than our competitors. The race pace looked okay but our base weight is now the same as the Audi, which is a 3 litre, 6 cylinder car versus our 2.5 litre, four cylinder engine. The 50kg I got for race three was a double-whammy as it slowed me even more. I set the second fastest time in the first race because I had a clear track while the others were slower as they were fighting for the lead and tripping over each other. It wasn’t my best day in the office”.
Richard said: “I was happy with my pace as I was only 0.3 second off Hennie’s lap times. Hennie and I planned where he could get past me in race 4 without letting all the others come past as well. The Audi and BMW are like rocketships down the straight. I racked up some good points so I’m happy with the weekend”.
Tannith said: “I had a problem with the diff and a bearing during practice. I gave my car to Hennie so I didn’t get a qualifying run but was happy with my races and results. It’s great to be in the mix and gain more confidence in the car and 5th overall for the day is a huge confidence boost”.
Carel Pienaar said: “The cars that were slower than us because they were fighting for position scored more points than we did; it is a double penalty that we received and it has totally changed the championship position”.
Team Sasol Subaru is supported by Permatex and associate sponsors Protea Hotels, MIR race clothing and Shatterprufe. Follow Team Sasol Subaru on Facebook and Twitter.
The next outing for Team Sasol Subaru is in East London on 3rd September.
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