|Posted on February 28, 2018 at 3:25 AM|
Zwartkops Raceway saw Monroe Racing’s Savannah Woodward walk away with a hard-fought for podium finish during the opening round of newly established Super300 class. This she claimed after the second race during Round 1 of the 2018 Super-GP Champions Trophy held on Saturday, February 24.
Friday’s practice sessions saw Woodward working hard on an ideal setup with the Monroe Racing team; as well as gradual key improvements in her own technique with her Race Engineer Mike Ramsay. The varying ambient and circuit conditions coupled with tyre degradation over the four sessions made it difficult to judge her form accurately from one session to another. For this purpose the team focussed on the areas which improve regarding approach with Woodward looking more competitive with every outing. This was justified during the afternoon’s qualifying session. On new tyres she qualified in fourth position; a session which saw the times for positions two through six being separated by just under 0.8 of a second.
As was evident from qualifying; Saturday’s race day would provide close action. With hot and mostly sunny conditions greeting the team on their Saturday morning arrival to the circuit, they applied the necessary changes to ensure the best race package. The early morning warm-up session left them confident about their chances for a podium position in the day’s two races.
The first race saw a good start from Woodward with her involved in a five-rider battle for second position during the opening laps. Third position and for a while, second position looked to be on the cards. The final lap saw Woodward being passed around the outside of the last corner by Chase Hulscher which broke her momentum and allowed Taric van der Merwe to also slip through into fourth position. Woodward finished in fifth position; losing out by just 0.002 of a second and 0.4 seconds down from second-place finisher Dino Iozzo. She did however take the honour of being the highest-finishing Yamaha rider on her debut race with the R3.
The afternoon’s second race again saw close racing during the opening lap, but soon Woodward was out of the running on the second lap following contact with Hulscher. Fortunately the race was stopped just in time prior to it constituting a completed portion. With only cosmetic damage to the right side of the Yamaha R3, Woodward could retake her original starting position. The restart saw Race 1 winner Kenwyn Snyman checking out from the rest of the field early on with Iozzo also putting ground between himself and the battle for third position. This saw Woodward, Van der Merwe and Zante Otto having a good three-way tussle for the duration of the race. This pass-per-corner battle would’ve been a nightmare for any bookmaker to call, but showcased the high-level of up-and-coming talent in South Africa. On the final lap the trio were side-by-side heading up the hill towards Turn 5, but ultimately it was Woodward who had the superior line through the two right-hand corners at the top of the circuit to emerge in third place after Turn 6. She held onto this position for the remainder of the lap to take a well-deserved third place; again being the highest finishing Yamaha rider as well.
A visibly ecstatic Woodward sums up the day: “The move to the national championship proved to be quite a steep one, but thanks to my Monroe Racing team I was in a very strong position. The work with Mike also helped a great deal; evident through the improvements that we’ve made in certain areas. I’d like to thank my sponsors Monroe South Africa, Fuchs Lubricants South Africa and OneX South Africa for making this weekend possible. Lastly I’d like to give a word of praise to my fellow competitors. Throughout the weekend we were pretty close and I’m looking forward to some more good races between us during the rest of the season.”
Round 2 2018 Super-GP Champions Trophy will take place at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town on Saturday, March 24 and will see Woodward making only her second visit to circuit.
Published by: Reynard Gelderblom
Picture Caption: Get in there Savannah. The Monroe Racing rider had every right to celebrate on the Super300 podium following her efforts in the second race