Despite some excellent racing and a competitive car it was ultimately a disappointing race weekend for Sabat Honda driver Craig Nicholson at Aldo Scribante last weekend. -

- With the Production Car brigade having to race three heats at the tight Port Elizabeth circuit, race day was always going to be about preserving tyres and brakes to ensure that the cars would still be competitive by the third heat. Nicholson expected to be one of the pace setters on what is one of his favourite tracks and was looking to get down to business in Friday free practice. -

- However after the first session it was immediately apparent that there were some difficulties with the car. Lap times were not competitive and Nicholson was complaining of heavy understeer and a general lack of grip. Team manager Lee Philips gave the car the once over and found the source of the problem to be a broken rear anti roll bar. With the problem fixed for the second session Nicholson’s times improved immediately, although he was still not satisfied with the cars overall pace. After some damper tuning the balance of the car was again better and the CAR Magazine staffer was able to qualify second for the first two heats behind Lawrence Boschoff and ahead of Ian Long who had a poor qualifier after setting the pace in free practice. -

- Nicholson was passed by Long on the first lap of the first heat but was holding on to third and pulling away from Reekie in Fourth. The order was soon to change when Long returned to the track after an off road excursion and in the process forced Nicholson onto the dirt, allowing Reekie to pass. Craig then set about chasing Reekie down as both passed Long’s ailing car, which had suffered a slow puncture. Craig managed to catch Reekie on the final lap but was only left with two opportunities to mount a challenge, which he did. Reekie defended his position and Craig decided to not press home the attack given that this was only the first of three heats and the pass would have needed a little “rubbing” to be successful. -

- In heat two Nicholson ran strongly to finish third again behind Long and Boschoff in a race that saw the leading three separated by mere seconds at the flag. -

- Craig’s strategy had been to run conservatively in the first two heats to save tyres and brakes and then capitalise in the third. The Sabat Honda was also the heaviest in the field, weighed down by success ballast from the Killarney race meeting, and Craig was looking forward to an even playing field in the third heat when Long and Boschoff would also be carrying weight. -

- Sadly the teams best laid plans went up in smoke at the first corner when a rocker broke and one of the valves had a meeting with a piston. Nicholson was forced into retirement on the spot and a good day came to a bad end. -

- Craig was bitterly disappointed with the retirement but nevertheless encouraged by the teams performance. -

- “ The engine failure has really hurt us in the points chase and was very depressing for the whole team, but we proved that we can run at the front even with a heavy car and I am looking forward to our next meeting at East London where my major rivals will also now carry penalty weight. With a solid start to the season behind me the time has now come to push and it is my intention to make my rivals pay for the rest of the season. The Sabat Honda team is operating as a well oiled unit and we are all pushing forward as hard as we can, I am very confident now of running at the front for the rest of the year ”. Said a determined Nicholson. -


Original article from Car