Complete dominance, as Formula 1 fans have come to learn, doesn’t make for thrilling sporting entertainment. But boy is it a glorious feeling in the cockpit! A feeling that I had the pleasure of experiencing at Aldo Scribante circuit in Gqeberha for the fourth Round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Cup.

Being a bit more technical and peppered with more consequence than our home circuit Zwartkops Raceway, the first practice session was solely dedicated to figuring out which way the iconic Aldo Scribante track went. Prior practice on my simulator helped a great deal, but there is always a gap to be bridged between the virtual and real world. Toyota SA Motors Vice-President for Customer Services and ex-RSI racer Anand Pather blitzed us all in practice 1, demonstrating that he hadn’t lost his touch.

Practice 2, our fresh set of Ferodo DS2500 brake pads fitted that morning had now properly bedded in and the circuit’s limits had begun revealing themselves. I surged to the top of the timing sheets with room to spare, but my ham-fisted approach to the in-field section, and significant lift into the butt-puckering right hander Hangar led me to believe that there was far too much time left on the table for the rest of the field not to catch up.

They did not. Instead, the gap to Chad Lückoff in P2 only increased in the final session. As usual, reflecting on the day’s driving in the evening with a clear head gave me a chance to devise a plan of attack for qualifying and the race. The elaborate plan involved shouting “Send it!” and not lifting at the entry of the fast off-camber and cresting right-hander Hanger!

With full commitment, I qualified on pole ahead of Chad Lückoff in P2 and Denis Droppa in P3.

As we came around the last corner onto the start/finish straight, I shifted the GR 86’s 6-speed automatic gearbox into second gear and held the revs to get a good jump when the lights went out. The adaptive transmission logic thought holding 5 000rpm for this long was strange, and it decided that I actually needed to be in third gear, just as the race began. I watched helplessly as Lückoff crept further up my outside. Fortunately, the first corner arrived before he could make it all the way past and I held the inside line and that was the last time I saw the field.

An unexpected challenge arose when I caught up to the back of the GR Yaris class, whose back markers were lapping a second slower than both me and Droppa, who at this point had made it past the luckless Lückoff. The temptation to fight and overtake the Yaris was immense, but I was acutely aware of the hot-blooded youngsters’ no punches pulled approach to racing and I decided not to risk possible contact. The silver fox was edging ever so slightly closer, but not enough to pose a threat.

First place finish for race 1!

After the race I learnt that Chad Lückoff had suffered a puncture, a result of the abrasive Aldo Scribante asphalt, jagged curbs and debris from a coming together of Yarises earlier in the race. I kept this in mind and made an effort to take care of the tyres in the second race. Even so, I established a comfortable lead by the third lap and crossed the finish line for a double victory without any drama. Team ASAMM is now well clear in the championship standings!

Gqeberha, the Aldo Scribante circuit, Toyota South Africa Motors and Netstar made this an incredible weekend of racing.

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