The COVID-19 delayed final round of the 2021 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars championship took place at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit from 3 to 5 February 2022. Mackie Adlem nursed his ailing #1 Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR home in fifth place to add another title to the four he claimed in previous years.
In Thursday’s practice sessions, Aldem and stablemate Jeffrey Kruger (#53 ELKSA Competition Ford Falcon were the ones to beat, with Kruger quickest in the opening session ahead of Adlem who turned the tables in the next. The only two drivers who could prevent Adlem from claiming a fifth successive championship, Franco di Matteo (#3 Lauda Jaguar XKR) and Thomas Reib (#9 Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina), were in the top six throughout the day.
Friday’s qualifying session took place on a damp but drying circuit and it was the challengers who came out on top, Di Matteo claiming pole position with Reib alongside him on the front row. Kruger set the third quickest time but, as a newcomer to the series in the final round of the championship, he was moved down to ninth place on the grid ahead of Antonie Marx (#10 Reman Africa Chevrolet Corvette), Steve Herbst (#7 PPG Coatings / Prei Instrumentation / QI Systems) and Andre de Lange (#33 Roofsure / Creative Ink Media Jaguar XKR) who all failed to set a representative lap time in the session. Back at the other end of the grid, Richard Fuller (#12 Reventon Auto Ford Mustang) headed the second row alongside Warren Lombard (#6 PepBoys Automotive Ford Falcon) with Adlem having to settle for fifth next to Terry Wilford (#21 Fuchs Lubricants Ford Falcon). Julian Familiaris (#20 Lube-Net Chevrolet Corvette) and Finn Sam Dahl (#98 Arcprotech Ford Falcon) filled the fourth row of the grid.
A slow-moving Highveld thunderstorm dumped its load of rain over the Midrand circuit on Friday afternoon, leaving large parts of the track underwater. This forced the race officials to abandon the scheduled first heat and the decision was made to extend Saturday’s heat to 10 laps, counting for double championship points. The rain continued overnight but stopped around 09h00 which allowed the circuit, other than a few damp patches, to be dry by the time the 10h30 start time arrived.
There was drama in the early stages of the race when Di Matteo experienced steering rack problems, forcing his retirement and with it ending his championship hopes. This left Reib out in front with Adlem and Kruger closing the gap. The trio opened a substantial gap to the rest of the field as they fought for the lead, with both Adlem and Kruger getting through on Reib and seemingly ensuring Adlem his fifth title. In motor racing, however, nothing can be taken for granted as fuel problems cut Kruger’s race short then Adlem suffered brake failure.
Luckily he was able to slow the car using engine braking before spinning it to bring it to a halt on the outside of the second turn, somehow managing to keep it out of the gravel trap. He was able to get going again but had dropped a few positions and Reib was back in front. Lombard and Wilford were next on the road but a clutch problem forced Wilford into a spin, dropping him down the field. Wilford’s misfortune saw Adlem move back up to third but it was only a matter of time before he was caught by the chasing pack. Out front, Reib had a healthy lead which he kept until the flag with Lombard in a somewhat lonely second. Familiaris got past Aldem with a lap to go to take the final podium spot while Marx grabbed his opportunity to pass the ailing Jaguar on the final lap. Adlem was able to hang on to take fifth ahead of a recovering Wilford. Dahl ended in seventh with Herbst eight and Kruger, despite not making it to the finish line, classified ninth.
The double-points win was not quite enough for Reib to claim the 2021 crown. He ended the season just five points shy and had to settle for second behind Adlem but was comfortably ahead of di Matteo who, despite being only able to add the pole position points to his season’s tally, still had enough to end up in third. Lombard ended the season in fourth ahead of Wilford with David Coetzee, who didn’t compete at Kyalami, rounding out the top six.
African Group Lubricant’s Marketing Manager, Nicole Jooste, congratulated Adlem on his fifth consecutive title while praising the competitors for their persistence in difficult conditions. “We were all feeling a little bit worried on Friday afternoon, but again, the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars management team were quick to improvise and made sure that we would have the title decided on the track. After 11 races in the season, it came down to a nail-biting battle in the final few laps on the Kyalami 9 Hour stage. Congratulations to Mackie and the Adlem Auto Racing team on your title. We would also like to highlight the scenes of true sportsmanship in parc ferme after the race. Everyone joined the celebrations after what was certainly not the easiest season, especially with all the delays we had. We are proud to have the Mobil 1 brand associated with all of you and we are looking forward to the recommencement of the new season that already started at Zwarkops Raceway the previous week.”
The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars next take to the track on 22 & 23 April where they will compete in the second round of their 2022 championship at Zwartkops Raceway.
Published by: Paul Bedford
Picture Caption: Mackie Adlem celebrating his fifth consecutive title
Photography by: Reynard Gelderblom
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