The SA GT National Championship kicked off in style with two thrilling races at Red Star Raceway where Silvio Scribante took the Round One victory in his Cemza Cement Lamborghini Huracan GT3 after a gigantic tussle with the sister Scribante Lamborghini of Michael Stephen and Aldo Scribante. In the second round, it was Dayne Angel (Autohaus Ferrari 488 GT3) and Michael Stephen/Aldo Scribante who raced side-by-side for victory, the Ferrari taking victory by 1.2 seconds after a hard race.
Silvio Scribante cemented his place on pole position by half a second over Dayne Angel’s Ferrari. Multiple South African Champion Michael Stephen slotted the #45 Scribante Concrete Huracan into third in the newly formed PRO Class, just a tenth ahead of ProAm class Tschops Sipuka’s Into Africa Mining Lamborghini. A further 0.08 second behind was the Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458 GT3 of Jason Ibbotson, with 17-year-old Mikaeel Pitamber taking sixth place in his Creative Ink Porsche 911 Cup spec car.
Michael Stephen made the most of the rolling start to leapfrog Angel and slot in behind the bright yellow sister Huracan. An early turn 1 mistake by Angel opened the door for Sipuka to join in the 3-way tussle at the front making it and all P.E. 3 was chase. Lap after lap, Stephen harried Silvio until Michael made his move at the end of the long main straight on lap seven. He jinked to the left and held his line – and nerve – into the heavy braking zone, driving around the outside of the sister Scribante car which gave him the inside for the following left hand sweep.
Stephen built up a small cushion until the compulsory pitstop, where a seatbelt problem delayed the pair, costing 20 seconds and first place. With Aldo Scribante now behind the wheel, the car suffered fuel pressure problems in the closing stages of the race, allowing Angel, who made a strategic early pitstop, into second place.
Michael Stephen set three consecutive new lap records for Red Star Raceway, including the fastest lap ever recorded at the 4km long circuit, dipping into the 1 min49 second bracket.
Pitamber raced to the Pro-Am Class win after seeing off the challenge from Ibbotson’s Ferrari, two spins on consecutive laps not helping the Capetonian’s cause.
Xolile Letlaka and Tschops Sipuka had a strong run in their Lamborghini, Tschops holding his own until after the pitstop. With Letlaka behind the wheel, the car made an unknown loud noise. Thinking a tyre was loose, Letlaka dived into the pits to investigate. Making sure the tyres were all tightly fitted, Letlaka rejoined the race, the noise still present, so he took the conservative choice to take it easy over the remainder of the race. It was later discovered that one of the on-board jacks hadn’t retracted fully, and was making contact with the tarmac.
The grid was formed based on race one lap times, leaving Stephen on pole from Silvo Scribante, Angel, Sipuka/Letlaka, Ibbotson and Pitamber.
Silvio and Michael made a great start, running side-by-side with Stephen through turn one and the straight heading to turn two; Silvio the first to blink and backed out of his challenge for the lead. Angel muscled his way past Scribante on the opening lap and latched onto the back of Stephen’s Lambo, before Stephen eked out a lead with the yellow Ferrari never out of his mirrors.
Angel, who benefited from a technical error by officials that saw him not carrying 60kgs success ballast into round two, picked up his pace after his pitstop and caught Stephen, taking the lead two laps from home. Silvio held on to his third place, after carrying his mandatory 75 kg’s success ballast. Behind the leading trio of Pro-Class cars, an almighty battle raged between Ibbotson and Pitamber, the ProAm Ferrari holding off the Porsche despite Pitamber trying every trick in the book. Pitamber’s persistence paid off, as Ibbotson cracked and spun half way through the race, handing fourth and the class win to the young driver.
Sipuka and Letlaka had an untoward race, the Lamborghini duo’s handling not to their liking. An early pitstop saw the pair gain a position over Ibbotson by flag fall.
SA GT Racing Association Chairman Izak Spies, a GT competitor himself, said he was extremely proud of the tour organizers upping the ante of the series. He added “Now that the GT class has national status, competitors were bringing their “A” game to race day. It’s unfortunate that several of our competitors are not here this weekend with cars and parts still stuck in customs. We are told that Sun Moodley’s Merc has finally been released from customs and we can see him make his debut at round 3 in six weeks time. That will also see Arangies and Jackson in full flight with their Audi R8s. We are very excited to see at the very least 14 cars on the next grid.”
The third and fourth rounds of the SA GT National Championship takes place at Aldo Scribante Raceway in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) on 13 and 14 May.