16 December 2014
Magnificent podium for Venter on sportscar debut
Johannesburg-born teenager Liam Venter finishes second in class in the Gulf 12 Hours
South African teenager Liam Venter took a sensational podium finish last weekend on his sportscar debut in the 2014 Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi.
Liam had never sampled the Welch Motorsport/STP Racing-run Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car prior to the weekend, nor had he driven at the Yas Marina Circuit, but he made the most of practice and qualifying and felt confident going into the race.
Then despite problems with the brakes and tyres early on, including a puncture, Liam and team-mates Ryan Ratcliffe and Matt Telling fought back, eventually finishing second in the Cup 2 class and 14th overall.
“It was an excellent result and such a fantastic experience,” said Liam. “Not only was it my first sportscar/GT and endurance event but my first race of the year so I am really pleased to have ended it on such a positive note by finishing second in class.”
“I was a little nervous heading into the event, given I have not raced all season, but Ryan and Matt were so easy to work with, as was the rest of the team, and with the right support from home and trackside my job was made 100 times easier,” continued the 19-year-old.
“I was allowed to take my time and learn from everyone instead of feeling stressed and rushed, so thanks to everyone for their help.
“I just focussed on staying consistent, keeping my mistakes to a minimum and learning as much as possible whilst on track.”
“There was a stage just after the puncture when we were three or four laps down on the class leaders where I thought it was game over but we kept our heads down and by staying out of trouble and lapping consistently we managed to claw it back by the halfway point,” added the Proudly South African brand ambassador.
Meanwhile, John Welch, Welch Motorsport/STP Racing Team Principal, and Dan Welch, Welch Motorsport/STP Racing Team Manager, were both pleased with Liam's performance and attitude.
“For a young lad competing in his first FIA Endurance race Liam carried himself very well and was very quick,” remarked John. “He has a mature head on his shoulders and when we were radioing him adjustments to be made on the ABS and stuff like that, his feedback was top-notch. He will go far and has phenomenal potential. He is definitely a prospect for the future.”
Dan added: “Liam got on and did a professional job. He was very consistent and didn't try and race above his game before he got there - the worst thing you can do is try hard too quick and then spin off. He was in a new car and on a circuit he had never been too before. Ryan did Abu Dhabi last year, so he was always going to be the target as he has driven there before, but I think by the time we started the race, there lap times were virtually identical. You couldn't ask for more at that point.
“He also gave good feedback during the race and took our feedback very well when he was in the car. He conducted himself well, had his head screwed on and helped us all to come away with a good result.”
Craig Dolby, Liam's driver coach, remarked: “Liam got thrown in a little bit at the deep end going into the Gulf 12 Hours as his first GT race - it is one of the biggest endurance races you can go into, but typical Liam he just stayed calm and took everything in his stride. The whole aim was to build up through practice and not do anything silly, just learn for the race, which he did. Then during the race he was ultra consistent and did a really solid job. He did everything the team asked him to do and to be on the podium at the end was a massive bonus and a nice reward for everyone.”
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