All the stars were aligned for the Engen Audi racing team this weekend ahead of the final round of the 2018 Sasol Global Touring Cars Africa Championship (GTC) at Zwartkops Raceway. The team materialized on the best ever season for Terry Moss Racing.
Arriving at the lions' den of Zwartkops Raceway, reigning champion Michael Stephen had a comfortable lead in the GTC championship standings with Simon Moss in second position. The team were well aware of the fact that the competition wouldn't go down without a fight in this final round - and therefore, the Port Elizabeth duo weren't going to hold back.
On Friday (19th October) the Engen Audi team were the fastest in every practice session and with the ultimate preparation, Michael and Simon headed into Saturday's (20th October) qualifying session with a sense of confidence. It was a repeat of the two previous rounds at the 2,4 kilometre track, when Michael took pole position ahead of his team mate, Simon. It was the Engen Audi team's 7th full front lock down of the 2018 season and their 8th pole position of the year.
GTC race one got underway under perfect racing conditions and a flawless get away from both drivers saw them take instant control over the race. In the 12 laps that followed, Michael didn't leave any room to endanger his lead and with his victory he instantly claimed his third consecutive GTC title - with a fastest lap of the race. Simon followed closely in second position and extended his second position in the championship with another 3 points, to eight points over BMW's Gennaro Bonafede. Michael was welcomed by the rest of the Engen Audi team with great applause on his return in the parc fermé but the team's engineer had little time for celebrations as his focus immediately diverted to securing the second positon in the championship for Simon, together with the manufacturer's title.
The reverse grid second race always poses a challenge for the fastest drivers in the field and with much at stake, Michael took a conservative start. Simon, on the other hand went straight into battle and fought hard for third position in the opening lap. The same opening lap saw Simon's main rival Gennaro Bonafede (BMW), leave the track and end his championship runner up aspirations. Michael showed his class in the second race, when he worked his way up from last position to first place in six laps time, as Simon humbly brought home his GTC Audi A3 in fourth, after the car encountered some damage in one of his fierce battles to the finish line.
The celebrations erupted instantly back in the paddocks, when the best season in the history of Terry Moss Racing and the Engen Audi team was sealed with a victory and yet another fastest lap.
"This is a dream come true for my team and I",
Engen Audi team manager, Terry Moss smiled.
"It's an amazing feeling to finish the 2018 season with our signature 1 - 2 formation and taking the Manufacturers title as well. It makes it extra special knowing that this was one of the closest contested seasons in our history."
Michael Stephen finally accomplished his mission as driver and team engineer and he was ecstatic.
"The hard work during the whole year has paid off! Very few people know how much effort we have put in to reach these results and this victory this makes it all worth it,"
With the double win from Michael Stephen, the 2018 GTC season settles with eight race victories for him. In total, the Engen Audi team has accumulated 10 wins and 23 podiums finishes, along with three lap records and eight pole positions - of which seven of them were with a full front lock down.
"This success and impressive results doesn't just stem from talented driving skill and performance from the race vehicle. It stems from hard work, a strong team effort, determination and a desire to achieve greatness. This is the core of Vorsprung and exactly what the Audi Sport brand aimed to achieve through our motorsport partnership with the Engen Audi team,"
said Trevor Hill, head of Audi South Africa.
"It has been a fantastic season we couldn't be more proud with the entire Terry Moss racing team. Congratulations to Michael Stephen and Simon Moss for delivering the outstanding results and flying the Audi flag high. A big thank you must also go to the team engineers, mechanics and support who worked behind the scenes in ensuring the Audi A3 race vehicles were at their peak performance. Well done to all!"