[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Engen Xtreme Team contested the first round of their national championship in Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday, with Simon Moss (38) recording his first podium finish for 2017 – and the first for the team in the process.
Race one saw Moss start and his Engen Xtreme Audi A3 GTC start in second spot – and duel throughout the race with the BMW of
Capetonian Johan Fourie. Fourie put in a serious effort to use his home-ground advantage in order to finish ahead of Moss, but to no avail. Every attack was rebuffed and Moss crossed the finish line for his spot on the second step of the podium for the Engen Xtreme Team.
“With the growth he showed last year, I expected it to be nothing but a matter of time before Simon displayed real maturity under pressure,” says Terry Moss, owner of Terry Moss Racing. “Today he showed exactly what I have been waiting for. Facing constant challenge, he put in a perfect performance to fend off a very experienced competitor.”
Race one saw the defending Sasol GTC Africa champion, Michael Stephen (1) take to the starting grid in last place – a number of technical problems relating to the turbo, saw his first day culminate in a blown engine during qualifying (not before he posted times fast enough to claim third place on the grid for both races), all conspiring to make the start of the new season as difficult as possible.
“From practice one, we had issues to deal with and then the engine threw a rod during qualifying,” says Stephen. “The Engen Xtreme Team techs swapped out the engine overnight but that one broke during the first race – which was the end of my day. We will work out what went wrong back at the workshop, then we’ll be back strong for the next round.”
The technical problems at Killarney affected what looked like it would be a promising weekend for the defending champion. In race one, Stephen had climbed from his last place at the start to fourth spot by the time his engine problems forced him into retirement.
With the champion sidelined for the day, the focus of the Engen Xtreme Team went to supporting Moss in the second race, where he again lined up in second place on the starting grid, thanks to a qualifying time within 0.1 of a second of pole position.
“In race one today I had good pace to record my first podium of the season for the Engen Xtreme Team and I was confident for race two,” says Moss. “During race two, Johan got past me and then I tried to take my position back. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the room and under braking I felt the car step out and I spun, having to rejoin at the back of the field.”
For Moss the hard work then started of catching the field – which he steadily worked at. This played in his favour when technical problems amongst his competition allowed him to slip back into second place, recording another podium result for the day.
With two second-place finishes in round one, the Engen Xtreme team now prepares for the Kyalami event at the end of April where Moss and defending champion Stephen will again campaign their Engen Xtreme Audi A3s in the Sasol GTC Africa series.