Shaun leaves Killarney in Polo Cup lead

Pepper Racing enjoyed a winning if challenging start to its 2017 Engen Volkswagen Cup campaign at Killarney with Masters class champion Shaun La Réserveé taking an overall win for the day and a second race win and second place in the opening race, while Tasmin Pepper ended sixth and third in the two races to take fourth for the day on her Polo Cup return.

It was a more challenging weekend for Pepper’s Junior Team with Giordano Lupini delivering an excellent Polo Cup debut performance as he led the rookie race until suffering a gearbox failure with a lap to go, while Daniel Duminy’s promising weekend was thwarted by fuel system woes.

It was a tough weekend all-round, with qualifying run Friday evening in a force ten gale, making the grid somewhat of a slipstreaming lottery. But La Réserveé still put it second on the grid with Pepper fourth, Lupini ninth and Duminy 13th, which saw Shaun and Tasmin into the top-six shootout to lock down second and fifth on the final grid.

The first race ran pretty much as a procession with La Réserveé pressurizing wildcard winner Devin Robertson all the way to the flag and Pepper overcoming Jano van der Westhuizen for sixth on the run to the flag. Further back Lupini drove a solid race to lead the rookie race in ninth until his car lost third and fourth gears and he toured home in 19th and Duminy’s race was over before it even started with fuel pressure issues.

The second race saw a fraught race up front with La Réserveé pressurizing Robertson until moving into the lead on lap 7 before his pursuers Robertson and Jeffrey Kruger tangled behind him to leave Shaun to fend off young Clinton Bezuidenhout and Tasmin. Lupini was tagged from behind and turned into the wall to retire at the end of lap 1 and Duminy once again suffered fuel issues to take another early shower.

“What an awesome weekends racing in Cape Town!” Shaun La Réserveé confirmed. Shaun has won a race in each of the last three Polo Cup meetings at Killarney and is becoming seen as something as an expert at the Cape track  “Race 1 was a close affair, finishing just behind Devin and then I made a move to take the lead of race 2 and managed to hold it until the end — it was a great start to the year!”

“I’d like to make a big thank you to Iain, Shane, my dad and the whole Pepper Racing team.” Both La Réserveé and Pepper will miss the next race at Kyalami as the date clashes with Shaun’s wedding, where Tasmin is also maid of honour.

“I’m happy with the result and with the effort the team put in to get me out there,” Tasmin explained. “My car is band new and we had so many teething problems and we had a very challenging weekend — all four cars needed gearbox changes over the two days and the guys really put in a huge effort, so well done and thank you to all of them. “So I suppose it was a good weekend - I came home fourth overall after a year away and we go forward from here.”

“That was a Bittersweet Polo Cup debut,” 16-year old Giordano Lupini reflected. “I was delighted to qualify 9th for race 1 and I was running 9th and comfortably the top rookie in race 1 when I lost third and fourth gears with a lap to go, so I cruised home in 5th. “In race 2 I was caught up in a bit of Turn 5 nonsense and ended up in the wall on the first lap, but this is Polo Cup and I am very happy with a lot of things. “I’m a bit frustrated too but I must thank Pepper Racing for everything including that 25-minute gearbox change. “I am really happy to be part of such a great team — see you at Kyalami!”

“A tough day in the office once again,” Daniel Duminy, also 16 frowned. “The Vereeniging karting national didn’t go our way and now Cape Town — the bad luck must stop now and I’m going to come back stronger than ever at Kyalami, so its back to the drawing board once again and we are going to keep working at it — thanks to the team for all their efforts.”

“That was a tough weekend,” team boss Iain Pepper concluded. “Shane and I have cuts and scars from all those gearbox changes and other work, but our lead drivers brought it home and its great to have won overall for the first time in a while — well done guys. “My Juniors had a tough one — Giordano had a great debut it’s just a pity he did not get the results he deserved and Dan’s car really got the better of us, but we look forward to turning it around for both of them at Kyalami.”