RACE SUCCESS FOR SA TEEN: Liam Venter, 19, from Johannesburg, finished second in the 2014 Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi. Image: Supplied
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - South African teenager Liam Venter, 19, took a sensational podium finish last weekend on his sports-car debut in the 2014 Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi.
Venter had neither sampled the Welch Motorsport/STP Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car prior to the weekend nor driven at the Yas Marina Circuit but he made the most of practice and qualifying and felt confident going into the race.
Then, despite problems with the brakes and tyres early on, including a puncture, Liam and team mates Ryan Ratcliffe and Matt Telling fought back, eventually finishing second in the Cup 2 class and 14th overall.
FIRST RACE OF YEAR
Venter said after the race: “It was an excellent result and such a fantastic experience. Not only was it my first sports car/GT and endurance event but also my first race of the year so I am really pleased to have ended it on such a positive note by finishing second in class.
“I was a little nervous heading into the event, given that I've not raced all season, but Ryan and Matt were so easy to work with, as was the rest of the team, and with the right support from home and trackside my job was made 100 times easier.
“I was allowed to take my time and learn from everyone instead of feeling stressed and rushed, so thanks to everyone for their help. I just focused on staying consistent, keeping my mistakes to a minimum, and learning as much as possible while on track. There was a stage just after the puncture when we were three or four laps down on the class leaders where I thought it was game over but we kept our heads down and by staying out of trouble and lapping consistently we managed to claw it back by the halfway point."
John Welch, Welch Motorsport/STP Racing team principal and Dan Welch, Welch Motorsport/STP Racing Team manager, were both pleased with Liam’s performance and attitude. John said:
“For a young lad competing in his first International Automobile Federation endurance race Liam carried himself very well and was very quick. He has a mature head on his shoulders and when we were radioing him adjustments to be made on the ABS and stuff like that his feedback was top-notch.
"He will go far and has phenomenal potential. He is definitely a prospect...”
Craig Dolby, Liam’s driving coach, remarked: “Liam got thrown in at the deep end going into the Gulf 12 Hours as his first GT race - it is one of the biggest endurance races you can go into, but typical Liam he just stayed calm and took everything in his stride.
"The whole aim was to build up through practice and not do anything silly, just learn for the race, which he did. Then during the race he was ultra-consistent and did a really solid job. He did everything the team asked him to do and to be on the podium at the end was a massive bonus and a nice reward for everyone.”