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Nissan in the lead for series

2006-09-18 12:39
Poulter, in his first season behind the wheel of the class A 3.5-litre V6 Nissan 350Z after distinguishing himself in the lower classes of Gp N and production car racing in the past, is engaged in a head-to-head battle with reigning champion Anthony Taylor in his class A BMW 330i.

After seven rounds of the championship, the former kart champion enjoys a 10-point lead over Taylor with five wins and 11 podium finishes to his credit from the 14 races run so far. Taylor also has five wins, but one less podium.

When the national motor racing circus descended on Port Elizabeth for round four of the various championships in April, Nissan won both races.

Reghard Roets, driving the Nissan Junior Team?s Bosal 350Z, won race one after an extraordinary lap one chain reaction collision affecting seven cars caused the retirement of the top six cars on the grid.

All three Sasol Nissan 350Zs, supported by AE, Ferodo and Champion, were affected. Tschops Sipuka (second on the grid) and Gary Formato (third on the grid) went out on the first lap. Polesitter Poulter completed 10 laps before retiring, but was classified sixth.

Race two was also eventful and saw the retirement of Formato (after an incident with Etienne van der Linde (BMW 330i) and Sipuka and Roets (after an incident with Taylor?s BMW).

Poulter retained a six-point lead over reigning champion Taylor by winning race two from Taylor and earning bonus points for his two pole positions. He also recorded the fastest lap in each race, setting a new lap record on each occasion.

"We?ll be looking for more of the same," said Nissan Motorsport general manager Glyn Hall. Leeroy has had a brilliant debut season with us and both Gary and Tschops have shown that they?re both capable of taking the top honours.

?Tschops is also in his first season with us and if it's just a matter of time before he translates his great qualifying performances into equivalent race results.

"Gary has had a rough time of it this year, with technical problems on occasion and some boisterous on-track activity by some of his rivals preventing him from achieving the results we all know he's capable of," said Hall.

Formato has three podiums, but also four non-finishes, and he is determined to record that first elusive win of the season. Sipuka has also had more than his fair share of unwelcome on-track attention from his rivals and twice has failed to reach the chequered flag. Like Formato, he?s a fighter and he will prove to be a formidable adversary around what is his 'home' circuit this weekend.

The two privately-run Sasol-supported Nissan Junior Team 350Zs of Roets and Marco da Cunha (DCM/Tubular Technical) will be doing their best to get among the three factory-prepared cars.

Roets already has a race win to his credit and as Da Cunha, who made his debut with the team at Zwartkops last month, becomes more familiar with the 350Z, the Lee Phillips-run team (with wise input from former national saloon car and rally champion Geoff Mortimer) will be an even stronger force to be reckoned with.

Inside Wheels24

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