Zwartkops action heats up Gauteng
information supplied by: Bridgestone Production Cars
26 August 2012
ZWARTKOPS ACTION HEATS UP GAUTENG
The mercury soared to over 30 degrees around the Pretoria-West circuit this past weekend and visitors would never have believed that just 2 weeks ago there was snow over 90 percent of Gauteng. The ambient temperature wasn’t the only intense heat to be felt though, as the on track action made tempers flare and new winners emerge. The WesBank Super Series was back in town.
Saturday morning qualifying for the Bridgestone Production Cars, saw regular Zwartkops ace Hennie Groenewald, plant his Class A Sasol Subaru STI firmly on pole with championship leader, Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi / Tsogo Sun) second. The community was in shock as the Afrox BMW pairing of Etienne van der Linde and Anthony Taylor were expected by many to run away with the top spot. They lined up third and fourth, respectively just marginally ahead of Audi team-mates Melvill Priest (Mueller Sports Medicine) and Gennaro Bonafede (Ferodo).
Pirtek BMW’s Darren Lobb and Johan Fourie were split by Tschop Sipuka (Engen Xtreme Audi / Tsogo Sun) with Richard Pinard (Sasol Subaru) well ahead of John Mayer’s Tricor Signs 335i.
Class T seemed to be a Mini Cooper whitewash until Michael van Rooyen (Williams Hunt Chevrolet Cruze) produced a great lap to split the Castrol pairing of Lee Thompson and Gavin Cronje. Fourth went to Indy Oil’s Graeme Nathan (Golf GTI) with the Castrol Ford duo of Gary Formato and Shaun Duminy next up in their Ford STs. Jacques Joubert seemed to be a little off his usual pace, putting his Indy Oil GTI in seventh place, ahead of the Big Boss Renault Megane of Devin Robertson. Ebrahim Levy in the Jive Golf GTI was the final qualifier.
Race 1 started with a rolling start, requested by pole-man Hennie Groenewald who timed the start perfectly and rocketed into the lead, never to be passed. Behind him things were fairly orderly with Stephen, Taylor and van der Linde holding station in a closely bunched group. Lobb initially led Priest for 4 laps before slipping behind Melvill and into Bonafede’s grasps. The 2 had a little argy-bargy which resulted in both slowing towards the end of the race, Bonafede with a broken wishbone and Lobb with a wayward front suspension. All of this promoted Sipuka up to 6th followed by Bonafede, Lobb and an unimpressed Fourie. Pinard was the next runner with Mayer finishing a lap down.
A 4 place grid reversal for race 2 meant that the BMW pairing of van Der Linde and Taylor headed the grid and despite the best efforts of both Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka they romped to a popular 1-2 victory. Behind Sipuka the battle for fifth place was fierce with Priest, Pinard and Fourie all in with a shout. John Mayer again kept his nose clean and out of trouble in 9th. Groenewald was classified 10th finishing with a severely overheating engine.
Rolling start once again for race 3 and the status quo remained much the same with Hennie Groenewald giving the race-day sponsors, Sasol, another great result, winning from lights to flag. Michael Stephen, try as he might, had no answer to the Subaru package and had to settle for the runner-up slot. Melvill Priest and Tschops Sipuka had a long battle for third which eventually went to the Engen Xtreme driver. Richard Pinard led home Johan Fourie and Darren Lobb with Mayer having the distinction of beating van der Linde after the latter was forced to pit for a hurried repair. Missing in action was the new Audi S4 of Gennaro Bonafede, the Ferodo pilot having hit the wall at turn 2 early on in the race.
Class T was a humdinger with the Mini Cooper dominance quite apparent. Thompson botched the start, confusing all around him and in the resultant melee he and van Rooyen touched, sending the Chev pilot into the kitty litter, rejoining in last place. Cronje took up second place with Formato third. Cronje then slowed with a water pump problem giving Formato and Nathan the right to fight for second. Fight they did, lap after lap until Nathan managed to get the better of his wily rival in the dying stages. Duminy finished fourth, holding off Cronje, Joubert and van Rooyen. Robertson and Levy both pitted with burst boost pipes.
With the top 4 reversed for race 2 an entertaining battle for the lead resumed between protagonists, Formato and Nathan. The racing was hard but fair with Nathan once again getting the better of Formato. Duminy took 3rd with van Rooyen 4th and Joubert a distant 5th. Both Minis retired with overheating problems.
Race 3 saw Lee Thompson take a lead from pole position and never look like relinquishing it. Nathan had a brief tussle with Formato who held onto 3rd until the last lap when a front tyre cried enough and he limped home. Third place went briefly to Shaun Duminy who, within metres of Formato, had a fuel pump problem and lost the place to a surprised Gavin Cronje. Fourth place went to a very grateful Michael van Rooyen who was expecting to have a dismal point’s haul after his Cruze lost power. Duminy was classified 5th ahead of Joubert and Formato. Devin Robertson burst another boost pipe and limped home 8th.
It was a wonderful day in Pretoria with the large crowd being treated to some excellent and robust racing. The on track action was fierce and looks set to continue at Killarney on the 22nd September.
Zwartkops action heats up Gauteng.doc (33kB)
Complete Release: Zwartkops action heats up Gauteng.zip (3,229kB)