The notorious Potters Pass proved no match for the brilliant handling of the Sabat MINI during round 7 of the Production Car Championship. -
- Driver Craig Nicholson had been somewhat concerned that with the improved pace of the car, he would not be able to keep his right foot on the loud pedal through South Africa's fastest corner. All doubts melted away when on the second flying lap in Friday morning practice Craig took a deep breath and turned the car in with his foot nailed to the floorboards and the spectacular MINI sailed through the corner as if on rails. The team has recently made large strides with the handling of the car and it is this overall balance of the package that has seen the Sabat MINI move to the top of the time sheets. -
- After rolling the car in qualifying at Kyalami a month earlier Nicholson was looking for an improved performance at East London. Sadly the bad luck that has bedevilled the team during qualifying made an unwelcome return when on the second flying lap the Sabat MINI suffered a mysterious puncture. On the positive side, the first flying lap was quick enough to secure pole position for heat one, while the second lap still managed to secure third on the grid for heat two. Nevertheless, the loss of one of the teams two new Bridgestone's definitely compromised the rest of the weekend as Craig relates. -
- "Production Car Racing rules allow the use of two new tyres per weekend for qualifying and the two race heats, and the gain from those tyres is very beneficial. Our set up on the car definitely maximizes the Bridgestone's, which produce exceptional grip particularly when new. The puncture unfortunately destroyed the tyre and we were forced to use an old one in the race." -
- Starting from pole is a mixed blessing as the pole sitter is forced to carry a 60kg weight penalty, which obviously hurts performance. The added lump of lead made itself felt in the race as Nicholson only just managed to hang on to the bumper of Shaun van der Linde during the first heat. Craig was able to stay in contention for the heat but was unable to ever mount a serious challenge for the lead. The race win thus went to the Castrol MINI, with the Sabat example less than two seconds adrift at the flag. -
- With 20kg removed for the second heat Craig was able to attack van der Linde and the race was indeed a close one. With a slight advantage in the infield, Nicholson was able to overtake for the lead on occasion despite the fact that Shaun's car seemed to have a marginal straight-line speed advantage. At the flag Shaun managed a second win after defending his position in the last corner, forcing Nicholson wide. The Sabat car finished a mere 0.161 of a second behind at the flag to complete a good weekend with no damage and a healthy points haul to add to the championship kitty. -
- Craig was quick to praise his car and team after the event. "The team is now working like a well oiled machine, we continue to improve the car with the support of our sponsors Sabat and Bosal and I am delighted that we have now found some consistency to add to the pace the car has been showing. Some of our competitors have suggested that the MINI's are too powerful and are thus dominating class B. Whilst I will not deny that the MINI makes good power, my suggestion to them is to do a little more homework. Had anyone bothered to take split times at the event they would have found that the bulk of our lap time gain was coming from the twisty and technical infield, known by all competitors as the complex, where handling and balance is most important. It is particularly this aspect that the team spends many hours improving at the test tracks and our hard work is being rewarded. I have every confidence that our package will perform very well for the remaining races this year. -
- I would also like to make a special mention of Dirk Lawrence at Azoic Panelbeaters who burned the midnight oil to repair the car after our misfortunes at Kyalami, not only did the car have the necessary pace, but it certainly looks great."