Sunday, March 2, 2014

BPCC: Engen Xtreme champion Michael Stephen shines in the wet

Engen Motorsport Press Release

The Engen Xtreme team opened their 2014 national racing season on a strong note. The brace of Audi S4 quattros contested the first round of the Super Series at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, claiming second and fourth overall on the day.

For three-time Bridgestone Production Car champion, Michael Stephen (A1), the first round saw him claim a third place finish and a race win. While the other drivers managed a fast pace during the opening race on the day, when the heavens opened, and on a wet surface, it was Stephen's experience and talent that saw him take the chequered flag in the all-important feature race which had double championship points on offer. 

“Qualifying and race one didn't go quite according to plan,” says Stephen. “We didn't have quite the horsepower of our competition in the first race which was quite frustrating, but the wet conditions of race two, the feature race of the day worked to our advantage. Being able to win in the wet put our championship hopes on a good footing and gives us a good start to what is going to be an extremely challenging season ahead.”

Alongside Stephen was his new teammate, Simon Moss (A38). The Zwartkops event was Moss' first national outing in the Engen Audi S4 quattro and limited seat-time in the run-up to the 2014 season has seen him working hard to master the new car and top tier championship race category.

“Saturday’s practice and qualifying were pretty good, I even managed to be a bit quicker than Michael at one point,” says Moss. “Qualifying in the middle of the pack was ok considering this was my first outing in the Audi and gave me the opportunity monitor my pace against the others while staying out of trouble at the front end. In the second race I got a few things a bit wrong trying to control the horse power of the car in the rain. I decided to retain and race for a fourth place finish, rather than taking a risk by pushing too hard. Going off in those wet conditions could have ended any hopes of double points”. Looking back on the day, I am pretty happy. I finished both races, have a fourth overall in the championships after the first round of the national series and I kept my pace close to that of Michael. 

While Moss clearly has much to learn to match his multiple champion-winning teammate, he has clearly shown his potential in the opening round of the Super Series.

Going into round two at Killarney at the end of March, the Engen Xtreme drivers currently hold second and fourth overall in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship and with seven rounds to go in the national season, they are in a strong position to build on a solid start.

Photo credit: [Paul Bedford]