Brad du Plessis secured his second win of the season by winning round 3 of the 2014 SA simGT Challenge. The 33 lap race at Phakisa promised to be tough and tough it was, the race being completed in just under 1 hour. Mike Frost managed a blistering fast qualifying lap to earn him pole position, ahead of both Team DNF’s Chris Browne and Brad du Plessis. Björn Hehmann for Venom Racing started in 4th position. All drivers were required to make one mandatory pit stop.
Mike Frost was sublime during the opening 5 laps pulling a gap back to Browne of some 2.8s, after which both Browne and du Plessis closed the gap at a rapid pace. Björn Hehmann after looking extremely quick close behind du Plessis retired on lap 7 after a high speed spin. BT Racing’s Björn Buchner and Tony Liddell were running very close together only to swop positions on lap 6. It was later revealed that the drivers were running different strategies, Buchner equipped to run a longer stint on harder tyres and not wanting to compromise Liddell’s strategy of pitting earlier.
du Plessis seemed to have pace in hand consistently 1.4s behind Browne regardless of how close Browne was to Frost. du Plessis patiently waiting payed dividend as on lap 11, Frost pushing possibly too hard after setting the quickest lap of the race on lap 10, spun and with no where to go Browne close behind plowed his Ferrari 458 Italia into the side of the Audi R8. Brad du Plessis managed to just squeeze his Ferrari past the two out of control cars to inherit a 9s lead back to recovering Frost and Browne.
”With Mike’s blistering pace in quali and Chris being consistently quicker than me at Aldo Scribante and in practice at Phakisa I wasn’t expecting to challenge them on pure speed. As a result I was happy just to run a pace I felt comfortable with expecting that at some stage least one of them would make a mistake. Once the race settled I assumed that they weren’t really pulling away due to the tyres on Mike’s Audi fading. Their collision really was a huge gift as felt there was no way I would’ve won that race without mistakes from both of them.” said du Plessis
Meanwhile Stefan Kotze, Kevin Pheiffer and Carl Muller were enjoying a good battle for 5th position swopping position on regular occasion. Both Kotze and Muller decided to pit on lap 20 with just 7s between them, allowing Pheiffer to pass them and complete the longest stint of all the drivers.
Frost immediately started to fight back, reducing the gap to du Plessis by 0.5s per lap, but on lap 18 just as du Plessis pitted, Frost while exiting the final turn put a wheel wrong spinning the Audi R8 making contact with the pit wall ending his race. Meanwhile leader Buchner had troubles of his own bizarrely crashing into the pit wall while approaching his pit box, able to get going again Buchner rejoined the track in 4th position behind Browne. Chris Browne too had problems, having to pit a second time. After the round of pits stops Liddell found himself in 2nd position 12s ahead of Browne. With du Plessis in such a commanding lead, Browne was determined to at least reclaim second position catching Liddell at 1.7s a lap to pass him on lap 27. Liddell still absolutely delighted to secure BT Racing’s first ever podium finish and a great haul of points, The fight for 5th position was settled on lap 22 when Kotze caught and passed Muller pulling away rapidly with Pheiffer dropping back to 7th position after his pit stop.
After managing to avoid the collision between Frost and Browne earlier on lap 11, du Plessis never looked back to drive away from the field securing his second win of the season and to lead the drivers championship by 5 points from teammate Browne.