After more than six months of torturous legal battles and unnecessary financial expense Franco Di Matteo has finally received the recognition that he so richly deserves – officially being crowned the 2014 National SA Sports & V8 Supercars Champion!
Di Matteo has been a stalwart of V8 racing throughout the years – whether it be under the Wesbank Modifieds banner or more recently the V8 Supercars banner. He has also come close to winning the illustrious crown on numerous occasions but it has always seemed to elude him. The 2014 season certainly looked to be the year that he would take the crown.
Almost everyone within SA motorsport circles as well as the Sports and GT category as a whole would agree that Di Matteo was last year’s worthy champion. Unfortunately lack of sportsmanship from one championship contender would see a rather ugly and somewhat unnecessary legal battle ruin what would have been the realisation of a dream for the popular “Italian Stallion”, as he is affectionately known.
However, endless months of MSA Courts of Appeal and National Courts of Appeal have finally seen justice prevail at the end of May this year when Di Matteo was rightfully declared the 2014 V8 Supercar National Champion with a seven point margin over Ben Morgenrood.
Despite the cloud that has hung over him for more than six months, Di Matteo has carried on admirably with his motorsport involvement. He has also been a regular competitor in the Liqui Moly Legends category, and topped the 2014 season off by winning the Masters category in this competitive series as well. He was then privileged enough to travel to Virginia in the USA to compete in the INEX Legends World Finals at the end of last year and returned home as the third placed Master in the world – a remarkable achievement considering that he raced against the best that the world had to offer!
When the National Super Series tier collapsed at the end of last season the V8 Supercar brigade were given the option to join the Regional Super Saloons category in a new GTA class created especially for them. Di Matteo was one of the first drivers to support the initiative and hasn’t missed a race since. With four of the nine scheduled events for the season already behind them Di Matteo currently leads the 2015 Big Boss Super Saloons GTA Class Championship.
A second place and a win at the recent Midvaal event will see Di Matteo heading into the fifth round of the championship at Zwartkops Raceway in July with a slight advantage over the rest of the GTA field. The irony is that he finds himself in almost the exact same situation as last season, as he has a narrow two point advantage over arch rival Morgenrood.
It is anyone’s guess as to who will take the 2015 title but Di Matteo is guaranteed to give it his all. The remainder of the 2015 season will be watched with great interest to see if he can pull off his second championship title in as many years.
Di Matteo’s success would not be possible without his valued sponsors – Varta Johnsons Control, Amtec Lubricants, Derek’s Machining, Tre-D Engineering, GWR Racing and PF Hydraulics. He will certainly be looking to reward them with another great result at the end of the 2015 season.
Report by Greg Reilly
Media requests must please be forwarded to RacePics at Click-to-Reveal@racepics.co.za