Pepper wildcards turn Polo Cup on head

When Pepper Racing saw the 2017 race calendar for the first time, it knew it had a problem when the Kyalami Motorsport Festival was planned for the same day as the already long-set team leader Shaun La Réserveé’s wedding — where teammate Tasmin Pepper was always going to be Maid of Honour too.

Unable to do much about it, but canny as ever, team boss Iain Pepper (who was also unable to be at the race as he was attending same wedding) opted to slot a pair of wildcards — both Polo Cup veterans — Lee Thompson into Shaun’s Alpine Motors Pepper Polo and Dewald Brummer into Tasmin’s Campos Pepper Polo seat alongside Junior Team 16-year old duo, Daniel Duminy (SMD Pepper Polo) and rookie Giordano Lupini (Pepper Polo) in Saturday’s Engen Volkswagen Cup races.

It proved a masterstroke, as not only did Thompson proceed to utterly annihilate the entire Polo field with a mesmerising pole position, two dominant race wins and to leave Kyalami with a new Polo lap record in his pocket, but he and Brummer ended first and third overall to minimise La Réserveé and Pepper’s points losses versus their regular rivals on the day.

“It was a great honour for me to be asked to drive Shaun’s car,” former Polo Cup star Thompson admitted. “The car was stunning to drive and the team was fantastic, so it was good to deliver the kind of performance Dewald and I did today. “I really enjoyed being back in a Polo Cup race again and I am delighted with the results — especially that lap record. “Thanks to Ian, Shaun and the lads — I am glad to have done the job you asked of me.”

“I had a fantastic day at Kyalami!” Dewald admitted. “I had a good fight to end up fifth in the first race after a bit of a moment on two wheels and I ended up second race 2 to take third for the day. "Thank you so much to Ian Pepper for the drive and to Shaun and the lads for all the help over the weekend and well done to Lee Thompson who had two race wins — what a superman!”

It was a mixed weekend for Pepper’s Junior Team with Daniel Duminy happy after a good step forward following a luckless weekend at Killarney last time out. “I had a good day out there,” Daniel confirmed after two hard drives to 14th and 12th in the races to end up 13th overall. “Certainly better than Cape Town and for the team. I think Lee and Dewald had a brilliant run, so well done to them and unlucky to my teammate G.Lupini you will get there - the bad luck stops now! 

“Thanks to Shane and the rest of Pepper Racing for the weekend and also a big congratulations to Shaun and Chelsea on getting married on Saturday. “We still have some work to do as East London is next and I’m completely new with the track because my karting was mixed with that round last year.”

Team rookie Lupini’s run of horrible luck continued, but the youngster impressed again to qualify ninth and eleventh for the two races. “Qualifying went very well and was once again better than we'd hoped for, so I am delighted with my pace and progress so far. “The races were tough — the the car got stuck in second, so that was race 1 and I never had fifth gear in race 2, but I worked around the problem and enjoyed a cool fight near the back before the car went into limp mode and that was my weekend. 

“I’m proud or Lee and Dewald’s performance and happy that Dan went better; congratulations to Shaun and Chelsea and thanks to Shane and the team - hopefully we will have a good race result to reward all that hard work soon!”

“I think we stirred things up a bit!” team boss Iain Pepper concluded. “Lee Thompson proved that he is a magician to come, see and conquer as he did and Dewald did a brilliant job too. “I’m happy with Daniel’s effort too and sorry for Giordano, but he has shown such good pace and we just need to deliver it in the races too. “It was really tough to miss the races though and I can’t wait to be back with our usual team at East London in a month’s time.”