Debutant Essa dominates season opener

Zaahir Essa dominated the opening round of the 2014 SA simGT Challenge held at Kyalami. Essa in a yellow and silver Dodge Viper led into turn 1 of race 1 closely followed behind by Eugene McLaren in a Lamborghini Gallardo. Further behind Team DNF’s Chris Browne fought his way from the back of the field after a dismal qualifying session, moving up the field from 11th position to complete lap 1 in 8th position just ahead of BT Racing’s Bjorn Buchner. At the front Essa had a moment running wide at turn 2, allowing McLaren to challenge for the lead but Essa was able to regain his composure and maintain position. Meanwhile Björn Hehmann and Chris Browne together with their Italian machinery decided to perform a synchronised spinnng act, both cars ending up pointing in the wrong direction.

The start of lap 3 saw the beginning of a magnificent battle between Eugene McLaren and Brad du Plessis in a Ferrari 458 Italia which Mike Frost in a Audi R8 following close behind. The battle continued the length of the race, du Plessis not able to make a pass stick. Carl Muller drove well to defend from Browne untill a moment by Muller put his Dodge Viper wide allowing Brown through for 7th position. Browne then set off after the two BT Racing Porsche s, both of them having their own ‘no team orders’ fight. Browne managed to pick off the Porsche s of Buchner and Tony Liddell one by one to finish in 5th position behind Frost.

Essa finished race 1 relatively unchallenged stating his intent early on in the championship.

Chris Browne’s 5th place finish in race 1 meant that he would start in pole position alongside Mike Frost for race 2. However all eyes were on Zaahir Essa, his impressive pace in race could only mean that he would be fighting his way up to the front of the field. Essa managed to pass Brad du Plessis out accelerating him at the start before turn 1. Just ahead Eugene McLaren half spun his Lamborghini off the track only to rejoin in 6th position splitting the BT Racing Porsches of Björn Buchner and Tony Liddell.

Just when Browne was starting to edge away from the du Plessis/Essa battle at the end of lap 3, Essa with a late lunge at turn 6 passed du Plessis. Essa now looking up the road at the rear of Browne’s Ferrari. Unfortunately du Plessis outbraked his Ferrari tagging the rear of Frost’s Audi, the incident knocking them both back to 7th and 8th position. Frost and du Plessis immediately started the fight back the field while battling each other. Towards the back end of the field Luis Lopes and Carl Muller battled each other well for the 10th placed spot.

Browne defended his lead well from Essa until he half spun his Ferrari at turn 12 allowing Essa to pass to claim the lead and on to make it a double victory for the day

Race Highlights:

Race 1:

Race 2:


Race 1:

Race 1

Race 2

Race 2

About Jason Holden-Jones (603 Articles)
Jason founded Sim Race South Africa - - in November 2012, and continues to manage it as a passion project together with Ryan Hill, Alan Paterson, Sas van der Westhuizen, Nick Hodgson and Daniel Haynes. Contact Jason by email:

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