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Scrubbing it out at the GR Cup round 4

Listening to the previous journalists that participated in the GR Cup in 2023, I knew that Aldo Scribante was going to be a tough track. So when I arrived there on Thursday for the first practice session, I was completely nervous.

Not because I’m not confident in my car, but it’s another track I had never raced on, let alone, been around. It felt like Killarney all over again; an unfamiliar territory but this time around.

The saving grace for me was that Toyota organising an early practice on Thursday to ensure that we all became acquainted with the track. That Thursday session would prove to be something I was grateful for, ahead of the race on Saturday.

Nerves aside, I had a simple strategy. To avoid the mistakes I made at Killarney in the first round. I used the entire Thursday session as a ‘get to know track’. This meant that at every turn I verbally called it out, and I would tell myself where the braking marker was, what line to use and most importantly, which gear I needed to be in.

I stuck to that recipe for about twenty minutes before I finally decided to put on a fast lap to measure how comfortable I was with the track and my car, and to my surprise, I was just three seconds off the pace. This proved to be the confidence boost I needed going into Friday’s practice sessions, Saturday qualifying, plus the two races.

On Friday morning, the energy was a bit tense. Everyone tried implementing various strategies to better their time and to ensure that their Dunlop Direzza semi-slick tyres would still have some rubber for the important qualifying session as well as the race on Saturday.

Aldo Scribante is not kind to tyres. After good first and second practice sessions, on the final session, I retired my car after a few laps to save my tyres. A decision that would prove to be smart the next day!

For Qualifying, I found myself behind Hanne Visser (La’t Wiel), a repeat of Zwartkops; I was hoping for the same luck I had at our home race. My strategy for the race, stick to Visser as much as I can when the lights go off and try to brake late so that I can take him on the inside line.

This strategy did not work; Visser was not having it as he blocked all my attempts, which left me fighting with the dealer driven GR Yaris that would not let me pass.

Bernie Hellberg (TCB Media) was also trying his best to go past me but the fight became so intense that I spent the most of it defending my position from Hellberg.

I finished the first race in fifth position, important points scored and Sean Nurse (Autotrader) would go on to win the first race but not without a fight from the GR Yaris of Paul de Vos (GR driving academy) and Alex Shahini (Car) finishing third after an intense battle between himself and Visser.

The second race was essentially the best race I’ve had this whole season. While Nurse might have already wrapped up the season with no competition, all the drama seems to be happening behind him.

With more seat time, we are all becoming increasingly brave with wheel to wheel battle and it was evident in the second race. The grid changed for the second race, and because of my fight to maintain position with Hellberg, I had the worst time and this would mean I start second last ahead of Jaco vd Merwe (The Citizen) and behind Hellberg.

Soon after the lights went off, a fight between Hellberg and myself ensued again, this time around, he made sure that I do not get past. At one stage, we even swopped paint at turn three, showing the intensity of the race.

We then crossed the chequered flag in the same positions we had started in however, the smiles as we all came into the pits were incredible.

The cars have been performing incredibly well and after scrubbing so much of our rubber at the non-tyre friendly track, everything else has was a bliss.

The competition is now getting stiffer with everyone now vying to cement their position in the championship. Our next stop is East London at the end of July and I cannot wait to have a go at the infamous Potters Pass.

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