Mobil 1 V8 Supercars

Di Matteo stable shares the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars wins at Phakisa

Julian Fameliaris and Franco di Matteo took their respective first wins for their career and season Phakisa Freeway on a weekend (May 14-15) that sees the battle for the 2021 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars title remaining wide open.

Fameliaris leads the chasing pack.
Julian Fameliaris leads Franco di Matteo and the rest of the chasing pack
Image by Reynard Gelderblom

Friday’s practice sessions provided a clear indication that Saturday’s business end of the weekend will be a closely contested affair. On Saturday morning, it was Julian Fameliaris (#20 Lube-Net Chevrolet Corvette) who took his maiden pole position after showing good pace in Friday’s latter two sessions. Stable-mate Franco di Matteo (#3 Deltec Batteries Jaguar XKR), who topped Friday’s third session joined him on the front row of the grid. Reigning champion and points leader Mackie Adlem (#1 Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR) lined up in third place after dominating Friday’s opening two sessions. Terry Wilford (#21 Fuchs Lubricants Ford Falcon) struggled with differential problems for most of Friday, but delivered a strong performance to qualify in fourth place. Although Thomas Reib (#9 Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina) set Friday’s fastest time he had to settle for fifth-place on the grid on Saturday morning. Rounding out the top-six was Warren Lombard (#6 Pepboys Automotive / Pace Car Rental Ford Falcon) after spending all of Friday in the top-three. Andre de Lange (#33 Roofsure / Creative Ink Media Jaguar XKR) only participated in one of Friday’s sessions and lined up in seventh place ahead of JP Nortje (#111 N4 Autocraft Chevrolet Corvette) who made his first appearance for the season. The top-ten was completed by Steve Herbst (#7 PPG Coating / PREI Instrumentation / QI Systems Chevrolet Corvette) and Johnny Eekhout (#24 Johnspeed Cobra Chevrolet Corvette) who made his first appearance since his horrific accident in the 2020 season finale. David Coetzee (#53 ELKSA Competition / Adlem Auto Ford Falcon) did not set a time with the team still completing a differential change while the session took place, but lined up in 11th place. Missing out on the grid was Sam Dahl (#98 Ford Falcon). Although he quickly got to grips with the new circuit, an engine failure on Friday afternoon brought his weekend to an early halt.

Fameliaris made a good start in Race 1 to take a lights-to-flag maiden victory. He built a healthy six-second gap between himself and the battle for the runner-up positions on the podium. Adlem, who chose not to start the day with new tyres, passed Di Matteo for second place on the opening lap but was not able to break away despite setting the fastest lap of the race and day. Further back,  Wilford delivered a steady performance to finish in fourth place. Reib held Lombard off for the bulk of the race, but experienced bearing and brake issues on the left front wheel. This got progressively worse as the 10-lap race concluded, with Lombard passing him for fifth place on the final lap. Nortje came home in seventh place. Eekhout, who was struggling with engine difficulties in the closing stages finished ahead of Coetzee whose car developed a misfire after a plug wire came loose. De Lange battled Nortje for track position in the opening stages but retired on Lap 4 after an oil pump belt came off. Herbst, who made it onto the grid for the first time in 2021, retired after two laps with a terminal oil leak.

Di Matteo leads
Franco di Matteo leads
Image by Reynard Gelderblom

De Lange started the afternoon’s second race in pole position, but quickly lost the lead to Lombard off the line. Both De Lange and Wilford also ran wide at the end of the opening series of corners which cost them vital track position. Meanwhile, Adlem again got the better of Di Matteo as the pair made their way through to second and third in the running order. With Lombard leading, the trio put on a good cat-and-mouse battle at the front. At the halfway point, Lombard on severely degraded tyres ran wide; losing a host of positions as well his chance to make it two maiden race winners for the day. Adlem was battling with gearbox issues but found himself in the lead pursued by Di Matteo. It would also not turn out to be Adlem’s day to take his first Phakisa Freeway race victory. Starting the penultimate lap, he ran wide into Turn 1 which saw him losing two positions. Di Matteo held onto the lead for the remainder of the lap to take his first win for 2021 ahead of Race 1 winner Fameliaris. Adlem, who finished in third place, also made it two podium finishes for the day. Following the opening lap, Wilford showed good pace while making his way back up to the front and made it two fourth-place finishes for the day while setting the fastest lap of the race. He was closely pursued to the line by Lombard. Reib held off De Lange to complete the top-six. Coetzee struggled with gearbox problems for most of the race but picked up valuable points for finishing in eighth place. Nortje retired with mechanical issues after five laps while Eekhout did not make the start after his engine issues from Race 1 proved to be terminal.

The third round of the 2021 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars Championship will see the series visiting Zwartkops Raceway for the first of three times this season. Originally planned as the season opener on the Passion for Speed roster, the event was postponed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take place on June 18-20 as a combined Passion For Speed and Extreme Festival event.

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