Johan Fourie (Alcohol Killer BMW 335i) had the perfect race weekend at the fourth round of the 2014 Bridgestone Production Car Championship in East London, taking pole position in Friday’s qualifying session, winning both races and claiming the bonus points available for fastest lap in each race.
Fourie’s perfect haul of 35 points gives him a slender two point advantage at the top of the class A table over defending champion Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi S4) at the half-way point in the season.
In Class T, despite being involved in an accident which brought a premature end to the day’s feature race, Graeme Nathan (VW Motorsport / Genuine Parts Golf GTi) extended his championship lead.
The 8-lap sprint race got off to a dramatic start after a collision at Cocabana brought out the safety car. The Sasolracing Audi S4 of Hennie Groenewald and Class T pole-sitter Michael van Rooyen’s Williams Hunt Chevrolet Cruze would take no further part. Once the debris had been cleared the drivers were left with a four-lap dash to the flag.
Fourie had an easy run to the line, taking the win by just over two seconds from team mate Gavin Cronje who had to fight off the attentions of Stephen for the entire race. Simon Moss (Engen Xtreme Audi S4) came home in fourth with a recovering Gennaro Bonafede (Sasolracing Audi S4) in fifth.
With Van Rooyen eliminated the Class T battle was fought between Lee Thompson (Castrol MINI), Gary Formato (Ford Racing Dealer Team Focus ST) and Nathan. They crossed the finish line in that order followed by Charl Smalberger (Tyremart / VW Motorsport Golf GTi), series newcomer Mandla Mdakane (Castrol MINI) and Shaun Duminy (Ford Racing Dealer Team Focus ST).
Cronje headed the grid for the 12-lap feature race with team mate Fourie in fourth place, but it was only a lap until the two Alcohol Killer BMW 335i cars were in formation at the head of the field. A couple of laps later Fourie got past Cronje and went on to a comfortable win. Cronje was left to deal with the attentions of Stephen in a repeat of the first race. Despite Stephen trying everything he could, the speed of the BMW on the straights gave Cronje enough of an advantage to remain in front of the Audi and he eventually crossed the line just seven hundredths of a second in front to give BMW their second one-two of the day.
In Class T Mdakane led the field away in his MINI.
He held of challenges from Nathan and Smalberger before Formato finally forced his way past. Formato, who was later excluded for a boost pressure infringement, headed off into the distance leaving Nathan to battle with Mdakane. A brave move by Nathan saw him get past the MINI around the outside of Potter’s Pass, but contact between the two a few moments later saw Nathan roll into the Eastern cape shrubbery. The race was red flagged when the hot Golf GTi set the grass around it alight.
With the results calculated on one lap back from the time the red flag came out, the win went to Mdakane with Nathan in second. Michael van Rooyen’s team did and incredible job in between races to get his car back on the track and he rewarded them with third ahead of Duminy in fourth.
The Bridgestone Production Cars next take to the track at Phakisa on 2 August 2014.
1 Johan Fourie 102
2 Michael Stephen 100
3 Gennaro Bonafede 74
1 Graeme Nathan 96
2 Michael van Rooyen 75
3 Gary Formato 65