Rounds 15 and 16 of the Production Car championship held at the Phakisa Freeway on Saturday (04 October) proved to be both challenging and successful for Craig Nicholson and the Sabat Honda. -

- Nicholson had never before raced at the Welkom circuit and was hoping to come to terms as quickly as possible with the technical layout. Unfortunately the track would not reveal it’s secrets easily and by the third practice session Craig was nowhere near the top three and was peering down the barrel of a poor qualifying session. Making matters worse was the extreme heat, and tyre wear was proving to be a problem as the rubber was literally cooking after a few hot laps.-

- The team had a few tricks up their sleeve though; footage from a video camera mounted in the car for the practice sessions was studied and team owner and manager Lee Philips identified a shortcoming in Nicholson’s driving style that was impacting on lap times. Consultation with another “old hand” in the form of Engen Polo Cup driver Iain Pepper confirmed Philips’ suspicions. -

- Craig explained the situation. “ From the video footage it became evident that I was chasing the apex on a couple of the medium speed corners too hard. My natural style is to try and carry as much mid corner speed as possible while being mindful of the slow in fast out principle. With many of the corner exits being a compromise between over revving in second gear and being off the power band in third gear I was trying to carry enough speed to ensure that I could exit in third with good revs. After taking some good advice from Lee and Iain I decided to try and drive the entries more smoothly and be patient when getting back onto the power.”-

- The change of driving style and a few adjustments to the set up netted dramatic results as Nicholson managed to find nearly two seconds per lap in qualifying and secured third on the grid.-

- “The car actually felt slow on exit, but there is no arguing with the stop watch and we were thrilled to drag ourselves up the grid in qualifying”. Said a surprised Nicholson.-

- The first heat was severely compromised for Craig right on the starting grid. The second set of start lights refused to work and The Sabat Honda was passed by almost the entire class D field by the first corner.-

- “I was bitterly disappointed, I had specifically asked the marshal if the second set of lights was working as I could not see the main set from my position on the grid. When the lights went out I saw nothing and was swamped before turn 1. It took me two laps to clear the class D field before I could set about chasing the rest of Class C”. Lamented Nicholson.-

- A fine drive through the field eventually netted a second position finish for the Sasol fuelled Sabat Honda when the leading car of Doug Reekie dropped out with electrical maladies.-

- Heat two was a much closer affair as Nicholson got a more customary “bullet” start. Craig was able to keep in touch with the car of Class C Championship leader Lawrence Boshoff for the entire race. He could not however match the pace of Doug Reekie who was clearly reaping the benefits of a test at the circuit a couple of weeks prior to the race meeting.-

- Nonetheless a third place finish in heat two was sufficient to secure second overall on the day and another trophy for the Sabat Honda equipe.-

- Craig was pleased with the overall performance and had this to say of the event. “I simply loved the circuit, it is both technical and challenging and a lot of fun when you get it right. I’m also confident that we have made strides with the car. Even more importantly, we now have some good ideas to further improve the set up for the next round at Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth. I can’t wait to race it again”!