Kyalami’s inaugural race meeting will remain one of mixed emotions for leading Engen Volkswagen Cup team Pepper Racing. While Sunday’s races were always going to be the highlight of the 2016 SA motorsport calendar, a cruel sting in the tail put paid to team leader Shaun La Réserveé’s championship hopes when his engine blew while he was fighting for the lead of the second race, while team rookies Daniel Duminy and Brad Beningfield enjoyed mixed fortunes.
“Where do I begin?” a dejected La Réserveé asked after the body blow of that last lap retirement. “I suppose at the beginning – - it started well and I adapted to the new circuit to be in the top 6 consistently through practice. “Qualifying went well too, with a fifth and a third and Lady Luck smiled on us again in the draw with pole in race 1 and my Alpine Motors Pepper Racing Polo stayed third on the race 2 grid.
“I had a great start and held the lead and managed to pull a little gap in the opening race, before an intermittent misfire hit and got worse and worse and I eventually ended up in a fighting fifth place. “Then I made another bullet start, got the holeshot and managed to pull a small gap again.
“Then I started having issues with the brakes overheating, so Matt Shorter caught up and I had to defend in the heavy braking zones. “On the last lap exiting turn 3 the engine let go and I was out. “So what had promised to be a fantastic weekend with two wins at the new Kyalami circuit was totally obliterated with those two unfortunate issues.
“I am still leading the Masters championship but unfortunately I think the overall is out the window now for this year,” Durban driver Shaun rued. “The team tried with their might, but it seems we used all of Lady Luck pull in the draw. “Now it’s on to Zwartkops for the final round and to wrap up that Masters title.”
Kyalami was however a very positive weekend for La Réserveé’s 16-year old rookie teammate Daniel Duminy and his SMD Pepper Racing Polo. Daniel struggled for pace early in the weekend but a positive session with Jordan Pepper on the data exposed a few advantages, which the Ballito youngster took to heart and shot up the time sheets.
That put Duminy into the middle of a wild mid-pack wrought that saw him bumping, barging and two-wheeling his way to a determined and best of season result. “It was a very good day out there today,” Daniel reported. “I managed a 6th in the Junior results and eighth overall and I must say I am delighted.
“It was a big weekend and a whole new track and new lessons to learn too and I’m glad to say that we came back much stronger than Cape Town last time out and I want to say special thanks to Pepper Racing for all the effort they put into this weekend.
Nashua Polo driver Brad Beningfield also had a tough weekend when he had engine trouble in the first race but bounced back strong in heat 2. “19th to ninth with a car put together at the last minute,” Brad explained. “I’m very happy with that race.”
“That was a tough weekend, team boss Iain Pepper rued. “I am gutted for Shaun – what should have been a celebration all of a sudden turned around, but that’s racing – we must come back stronger, that’s all there is to it. “I was impressed by Daniel this weekend – he turned it around to come away happy.
“Now it’s on to Zwartkops for the finale on 26 October – we want to close off with a bang – bring it on!”
Race fans can watch catch Kyalami’s first and second Polo Cup races on demand on Facebook – click the blue letters to link through.