Adlem and Di Matteo resume their Mobil 1 V8 Supercars battle in season opener

The 2022 championship got underway at the 21st event, held at on 28 and 29 January and it was the leading pair in the yet to be decided 2021 championship that shared the race wins. Mackie Adlem (#1 Adlem Auto XKR) claimed the first heat but it was Franco di Matteo (#3 Lauda Jaguar XKR) who ran away with the second.
In Friday afternoon’s qualifying session it was Warren Lombard who put his #6 PepBoys Automotive Ford Falcon on pole position ahead of Thomas Reib (#9 Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina), the latter having set the pace throughout the practice sessions. Multiple champion Adlem headed the second row just ahead of Terry Wilford (#21 Fuchs Lubricants Ford Falcon) with Di Matteo and Richard Fuller (#12 Reventon Auto Ford Mustang) filling the third row. The top six were separated by less than half a second, giving a hint of the action to come in Saturday’s opening heat. A little bit further back, Julian Familiaris (#20 Lube-Net Chevrolet Corvette) who had his session cut short due to driveshaft issues, led the chasing pack from JP Nortje (#111 AMTEC / N4 Autocraft Chevrolet Corvette), Carl Nel (#15 Gears For Africa Ford Falcon) and Antonie Marx (#10 Reman Africa Chevrolet Corvette). Sam Dahl (#98 Arcprotech Ford Falcon), Steve Herbst (#7 PPG Coatings / Prei Instrumentation / QI Systems Chevrolet Corvette) and Johnny Eekhout (#24 Johnspeed Cobra Chevrolet Corvette) completed the grid. Although entering the event in a Chevrolet Corvette, Nel had to resort to the spare car before Friday morning’s first practice session.
Warren Lombard
In the opening race, Lombard took full advantage of his pole position to grab the early lead and extend it as those in the chasing pack fought over second place. Reib headed that battle in the early stages but a spin just before half-distance dropped him down the field and left Adlem ahead of Wilford with Di Matteo just behind them as the trio set about closing the gap to Lombard out in front. Behind the leading trio, Di Matteo was in a slightly lonely fourth with Fuller and Familiaris disputing fifth place. Lombard looked to have things under control at the front but a safety car period closed the pack up behind him. His chances of a win came to an unfortunate end just after the restart when an off-track excursion while trying to keep Adlem behind him, saw him stranded in the gravel trap at the outside of Turn 5. This allowed Adlem through into the lead with Wilford and Di Matteo close behind. Fuller and Familiaris resumed their battle, now for fourth with a recovering Reib joining them. That was how they finished when the race was brought to a slightly premature halt after race control decided Lombard’s car was in a dangerous position and could not be moved.
Di Matteo has earned a reputation for being the master of the reverse-grid second races and he lived up to that on Saturday, working his way up through the field to claim the lead from Familiaris on the fourth lap. It was then that the race was halted temporarily to allow the Zwartkops marshals to remove Norje’s Corvette from the barriers at the exit of turn one after he speared off the slippery track. After what became a lengthy stoppage to allow the marshals to dress the oil on the circuit, Di Matteo led the cars away at the restart while early leader Fameliaris was forced to retire with a mechanical issue. Adlem was in no mood to let Di Matteo run away at the front but had to work his way past Familiaris and Fuller before he could start to close the gap. Wilford’s challenge was blunted when he was helped into a spin at the top of the hill, leaving Adlem and Fuller to chase the black car out front. They had no answer though and Di Matteo took a comfortable win from Adlem with Fuller a couple of car lengths adrift. Lombard had to settle for fourth with Wilford classified in fifth just ahead of Marx. Dahl was the last of the classified finishers.
Julian Fameliaris
In the day’s overall standings, Di Matteo claimed the win with Adlem and Fuller joining him on the podium.
A spectacular start to the new season was witnessed by Nicole Jooste, Marketing Manager for African Group Lubricants: “We’ve witnessed drama, comebacks and good racing throughout the field today. This is a good indication of what is to come in the season ahead and it is evident that there are a host of drivers eager to challenge for the 2022 title. We are very proud to have the premier form of circuit racing in South Africa carrying the Mobil 1 brand with the racing getting even better with each year.”
In a strange twist just a week after starting their 2022 championship, the Mobil 1 V8 Supercar brigade now make their way to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit for the Covid-19 delayed final round of their 2021 championship which will be decided between 3 and 5 February.
Franco Di Matteo
Produced by Distributed by Brandsponential on behalf of African Group Lubricants
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