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Wedding bells prompt team changes

Pepper Racing’s four-car Engen Volkswagen Cup team will have a very different look about it come Kyalami’s 22 April races. 

While Pepper’s Junior Team of Daniel Duminy and Giordano Lupini will report for duty as usual, championship leader Shaun La Réserveé and third placed Tasmin Pepper as well as team boss Iain Pepper will miss the meeting as Shaun approaches the altar next Saturday, with his bride’s cousin Tasmin right behind him again, but this time as maid of honour.

Shaun and Tasmin’s baby blue Polos will however be at Kyalami with wildcard pair, former Polo stars Lee Thompson and SA Formula 1600 champion Dewald Brummer at the wheel the line-up alongside the team’s 16-year old Junior duo Lupini and Duminy.

“Unfortunately I won’t make Kyalami as it clashes with my wedding,” championship leader Shaun La Réserveé rued. We set the date well over a year ago and long before the race calendar had even been thought of. “Unfortunately when it was published, we ended up with a date clash and I’m really bummed to be missing out because Kyalami is a magnificent track and I went really well there last year until the engine blew. 

“But we made a good start to the season in Cape Town and I’m hoping to continue that form at the next event in East London. “Theoretically one can still win the championship even after missing an entire round, so anything is possible and that’s our goal for the year. “Good luck to Dan and Gio for Kyalami — we’ll be back in East London to give it stick!

“I’m pretty sad to be missing the second round of the championship this year, but I will be standing next to my cousin as she marries Shaun,” Tasmin Pepper added. “That’s a day I would not miss for anything — even if I’m missing a race, so good luck to my teammates — go show the Polo Cup field how it’s done.”

All of which means that Pepper’s Junior drivers head to Kyalami holding the can and looking for best results after both lads suffered shocking weekends at Killarney last time out. “I am really excited to race on this world class track once again,” Giordano Lupini, who suffered the heartbreak of a gearbox failure on his black Pepper Racing Polo on the final lap while leading the rookie field admitted.

“I’ve driven and won at Kyalami before so I know what to expect and I’m hoping for more good results. “I’ll also be looking to improve on my pace from round 1 and I obviously hope to have a bit more luck in the races.”

Daniel Duminy had even worse luck at Killarney last time out, but the SMD Pepper Racing Polo pilot has also put that behind him: “I am super excited for Kyalami,” Daniel admitted. “That’s where I had my two-wheel action for a few meters last year, so it’s a memorable one for me!

“Also, as promised after Killarney, we’ve gone back to the drawing board and I am back to try even harder this time. “I’ve been training hard to be physically and mentally ready for Kyalami and I’m rising from the dark and looking forward to go get some valuable points after failing to finish both races in Cape Town.”

Lee Thompson will take La Réserveé’s place in the Alpine Motors Pepper Racing Polo. “I'm excited to race in the closeness of Polo Cup again,” Lee admitted. Thomson, whose day will be full at Kyalami with driving duties alongside running two cars in his own team added; “I last did one of these in 2011 and the kids are quick these days, so let’s see if I can keep up!”

Dewald Brummer, who takes over Tasmin Pepper’s Campos Transport Polo for the weekend, has not raced a Cup car since 2014. “I am so exited to drive a Polo again,” the Formula 1600 champion admitted. “So it’s a very big thank you to Ian Pepper and Lee Thompson for the opportunity to race for Pepper Racing. 

"My regular team MAD Racing has allowed me to take a break from racing full time because this is my final year as mechanical engineering student at Tukkies and the time constraints prevent me from committing 100% to racing, but this one off is a great opportunity that was too difficult to pass up. “Testing went very well and I feel comfortable with the car, so I really cant wait for Saturday!” 

Team boss Iain Pepper will also miss the races, but he’s confident his hybrid squad will deliver as usual at Kyalami. “Unfortunately it’s one of those things — I suppose a driver’s wedding day is the one thing that will trump his racing and this is just one of those weekends. “We are happy to still have all four cars out there though and between our Juniors and our wildcards we should be right up there. “Good luck team!”