Andrew Rackstraw fulfilled a lifelong dream and became a Cape 9 Hour winner over the past weekend. In what was his 3rd attempt in the last 3 years, the stars finally aligned and he got to enjoy the elation of the top step on the podium and the sweet taste of victory champagne with his teammates.
A class win as well as the overall win in what was a perfect weekend of racing for the MJR Racing team. The dream team as they like to call it consisting of Kwanda Mokoena, Luca Engstler and Andrew Racktraw worked and drove in harmony and it was as if they were all born to race together. They all complimented each other’s strengths and put on a world-class display of driving. With their achievements they also helped Kwanda secure the SAES Championship, making him the first and youngest African driver to win this title. A historic achievement for the whole team who put in so much hard work to make this dream a reality.
The racing itself was spectacular and the whole event was a huge success. Audi factory driver Engstler, who is also an 8 times TCR champion, was a true professional. He was handed the reins for qualifying and he managed to qualify in pole position, putting them just in front of their championship rivals.
It was amazing to see such a full grid lined up for the race start as the teams went through their final preparations. With everything in order, it was time to kick it all off.
Engstler started the race and put the team in a great position as he held and extended the lead in the first stint. Rackstraw was next up to drive in what would be a 1-hour stint. The only real hiccup the team suffered was not being able to fit the new tyres in time for Rackstraw’s first stint, so he was forced to go out on the used tyres which were used from the start of the race. It took a lot of skill and concentration but Rackstraw handled it perfectly and managed a brilliant stint. Still in the lead, he handed the car over to Mokoena for his first stint.
As the race went on their lead fluctuated between a 1-lap advantage to a 3-lap advantage. The safety car was also deployed on a regular basis at around the 5-hour mark and it made for some on-the-go tactical calls which the team were always prepared for.
At about 6 pm the rain decided to come down, and it did! From a bone-dry surface, the track quickly became slippery as the drivers had to manage the tyres and the grip available on the track. Engstler had to make the stop for wets and carried on pushing to maintain their lead. As quickly as the rain came it left. And the wind made light work of drying the wet track. In the mixed conditions and in the lead still, Rackstraw was handed the car on slick tyres. At first, it was really tricky as the track was still very damp in places. It took all of Rackstraw’s track knowledge and experience to keep the car in the right places to obtain maximum grip at all times. Again he showed some great skill and put in another top-class stint for the team. He executed his job perfectly and handed the car back over to Mokoena who was in charge of bringing the car home to the checkered flag.
“Killarney 9-hour winners!
I don’t think this victory has sunk in fully yet, this has been a race I have dreamed of winning since I started racing as a young boy when my dad used to take me down to watch the event.
This weekend will be one I will never forget. Watching Kwanda grow as a driver over the years has been amazing to watch, and helping him make history and become the first Black driver to win an endurance championship holds a very special place in my heart.
Working with both Luca and Lukas from Audi was an amazing opportunity and I learned so much. It showed me how I can elevate myself as a driver and understand more about what it takes to become a professional racing driver, which is still my ultimate dream.
To Kwame, Marius and the whole MJR team, thank you for allowing me into your team to share this special moment with all of you and for entrusting me with your beautiful car. What an unbelievable team and a weekend that everyone can be so proud of!
It was a privilege to race in a brand new GT3 spec car, which was an experience I will never forget. I do also need to extend my gratitude to RDSA and Claudio for making all these opportunities and special moments a possibility. Without them and Claudio’s guidance, I would not be where I am today.
To all my sponsors, RDSA, Sparco, Ravenol and Simgrid, thank you for the continuous support and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us.
Now the focus shifts to 2023, bring it on!”
What a way to end what has been such a special year of racing for Rackstraw and the RDSA camp.
On to bigger and better things for 2023, watch this space…
Like. Comment. Share