Chris Shorter powered his Champion MINI John Cooper Works to a hard-fought podium finish in the second race of the Sasol GTC2 Championship held at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town this weekend, adding to his fifth place finish in race one. Brad Liebenberg brought his Ferodo MINI John Cooper Works home in fourth and fifth place after a troubled qualifying session.
It was a tough outing for the Signature Motorsport MINI team characterised by close competition as has become the norm this season. The pace in GTC2 has picked up dramatically and Signature Motorsport has worked hard to make their MINIs race winners. Brad circulated the 3.2km long track 0.981 seconds faster than when the cars made their debut at the same track in March, while Chris found a massive 2.699 seconds since round one.
Qualifying saw Chris claim fourth on the grid, 0.191 seconds off a front row spot. Brad battled to find a set-up he was happy with during the free practice sessions and qualified sixth after suffering a broke shock absorber on his fastest lap.
From sixth on the grid, Brad had a race mired in the middle of the pack where fender rubbing is common place. He passed Chris and Keagan Masters en route to his fourth place finish, 0.2 seconds away from the podium.
Chris made a great start to the first race, swapping places in a tight fight until he out-braked himself and dropped to the back of the pack. He raced back through the lower order and ended fifth.
In race two, from an inverted grid, Chris made a great start and quickly passed Nick Adcock (Golf GTi) and Iain Stevenson (VW Golf GTi) after a battle for several laps. Once into second place, he opened a comfortable gap and reeled off the remaining laps after a lonely race.
Brad started in fifth place and was pushed off the track by Adcock in turn one. He settled into a race-long fight for position with Trevor Bland and Charl Smalberger (both in Golf GTis). The trio swapped positions every lap in a thrilling race-within-a-race much to the delight of the strong crowd. He avoided an accident that unfolded in front of him and opened a gap to take a comfortable fourth place finish.
Quotes from the cockpit:
Chris Shorter (#33 Champion MINI): “The car felt as if it was on rails in qualifying so I was surprised to only be in fourth place on the grid. The first race was great until I made a mistake braking for turn eight. I lost a lot of places but regained some of them before the flag came out.
In race two, I made up a place in turn one and fought with Stevenson before passing him under braking at Cape Town corner. After that I had a lonely race even though I drove as hard as I could”.
Brad Liebenberg (#12 Ferodo MINI): “I never found a decent set-up in qualifying. On my fast lap in qualifying I clipped a kerb and a shock absorber broke; I lost all steering so sixth wasn’t too bad in the circumstances. In the first race there was a lot of leaning on each other but I passed Chris and Keagan to finish fourth. In race two, I was pushed wide in turn one and lost a place but I got it back. I had a huge fight with Bland and Smalberger – it was full- on war. Smalberger and Stevenson crashed into each other. I managed to avoid the chaos and held on to take fourth”.
The Signature Motorsport MINI John Cooper Works team will be back in action at Kyalami on 4th November.
Story by David Ledbitter – Signature Motorsport