Sabat backed class C Honda privateer Craig Nicholson enjoyed a somewhat adventurous outing at Aldo Scribante during the penultimate round of the Power Tour (02 November 2003). -

- Nicholson’s adventures started as early as first practice session on Friday morning. The man from Car Magazine took to a wet track on dry weather tyres. The car was over steering badly, an uncommon trait to the Sasol backed Sabat Honda, and the handling confused Nicholson, until he noted that there were four tyres and a suspension upright still in the boot. The team had a good chuckle about the faux pax and were surprised to have set the third fastest time in the session despite all the “baggage”. -

- With the offending weight removed the car became more neutral and as the day wore on, understeer became the more prevalent trait. However balance proved an elusive goal for the C47 chassis and Craig could only manage fourth quickest in qualifying. -

- More worrying was a persistent vagueness in the steering column, which the team put down to a shock that was moving slightly on it’s mounting. The problem manifested itself in Saturday morning warm up, but with the mounting repaired, the team was confident that the first heat would bring a good result. -

- Sadly they could not have been more wrong. Craig suffered an uncharacteristic poor start when the lights went out, but was working his way back to the top three at the beginning of the second lap. Firestone Sweep is a challenging medium speed left-hander with lots of gradient. Nicholson was to get the fright of his life when, with his right foot buried against the floorboards in third gear, he turned into the corner only to have the steering wheel spin around in his hands with no answer from the front wheels. The Sabat Honda left the track at high speed headed for a tyre wall. Nicholson twirled the wheel back and forth until it regained some degree of purchase and the hapless driver was able to miss the looming tyre wall and limp back to the pits. An inspection of the steering rack revealed that the mounting bolts for the steering column had pulled right through the mounting brackets on the sub frame. Under load the whole rack had come adrift, leaving the driver with no control of the vehicle. -

- The Sabat team sprung into action and against all expectation managed to repair the rack and sub frame with minutes to spare before the second heat. Sadly no time was available to make adjustments to the handling. With the front now working, as it should, the back of the car was extremely loose. Nicholson got a flyer of a start and managed to pull alongside the similar OKI Honda of third placed starter Molefe Lebethe. Lebethe moved over to defend his position. The two Honda’s touched briefly and Lebethe was to loose out badly as he spun across the front of Nicholson’s car and hit a tyre wall, rolling over in the process. The incident pushed Nicholson down the field and he found himself in the middle of the class D pack. After driving hard through the melee for two laps Craig had managed to clear the brat pack and set of in chase of the rest of class C. The car was however a handful, with the rear seeming to have a mind of its own and the crowd was treated to some lurid slides that one would normally associate with a rear wheel drive vehicle. By the time the flag dropped, the Sabat Honda had secured a hard earned third position in class C, securing some valuable points and a bit of pride for the team. -

- “What a weekend!” Quipped a relaxed Nicholson after the second heat. “ After the rack failure in the first heat I had resigned myself to being a spectator for the rest of the day. But my team just don’t quit and the Sabat crew got my car back together for the second heat. I was surprised to find myself on the grid and honestly the car was a real handful. However once I accepted the fact that I would not be in the running for a win, I just enjoyed the challenge of driving the car and I can’t remember when last I had so much fun behind the wheel.” -

- With third place in the championship now secure the team will go to the last race at Kyalami looking for that elusive win. -

- “We’ve been close but no cigar so far this year”. Said team manager Lee Philips “ We will be looking to get a good result at Kyalami, but most importantly we really just want to put on a great show for the fans and sponsors at the finale.”