Dalton on the double, but a new star emerges in Bridgestone BMW Club season opener

Story by: Tony Alves

After 2 months of much conjecture and anticipation, the Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series finally lifted the curtain on the 2021 championship and indications are that there is much to look forward to in the new season.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session soon gave us a hint of what to expect. In Class A Adrian Dalton was the undisputed leader and duly put his Xtra Clothing and Shoes BMW E46 M3 CSL in pole position with Lorenzo Gualtieri in second spot, although he broke the diff in his Savspeed BMW E36 328 Turbo in the process, effectively ending his participation in the day’s events before they had even begun.

Driver of the day: Nicholas Fscher

In Class B Andreas Meier (BMW E36 STC) was the man in charge. Right behind him in Class C was Jagger Robertson (Viking/Big Boss Auto BMW E46 M3), who by virtue of having broken out of the class time was then promoted to Class B where he was to be a thorn in The German’s side all day. That automatically promoted Matthew Wadeley (BMW E36 M3) to pole of Class C.

Neil Reynolds (Valve Hospital BMW E36 M3) was the lead car in Class D, with William Einkamerer (Big Boss Auto/Liqui Moly BMW E46 330i) hot on his heels, and Craig Herbst (Greenhouse Solar BMW E46 330i) drew first blood in Class E, ahead of Nicholas Fischer (Inside Active Group BMW E36 328i).

An emotional tribute to the late Wally Pappas signalled the start of heat 1, with a minute’s silence observed by the assembled grid, led by Mrs. Pappas and daughter Donna. After the sombre moment in remembrance of the much respected and loved COC, it was time to unleash the 32-car strong grid.

Race 1

At the lights Adrian Dalton jumped into an immediate lead with the chasing pack hurtling towards turn 1. Jaki Scheckter (Pablo Clark BMW E9 3.5CSL) vainly gave chase but engine maladies caused him to fall into the clutches of Meier and Robertson, with Carlo Garbini (Kimbo BMW E46 330i) also settling into a good race alongside Jan Eversteyn (African Surprise BMW E46 M3). In Class C Matthew Wadeley was the man to follow, and Troy Cochran (Arrow Automotive E36 M3), Nek Makris, Fabio Fedetto (BMW F82 M4) and Lyle Ramsay (FUCHS Lubricants/Rich Racing BMW E36 330i) all did just that. Neil Reynolds took control of proceedings in Class D, and Craig Herbst did likewise in Class E.

Class A: Adrian Dalton (Xtra Clothing and Shoes BMW E46 M3 CSL)
Class A: Adrian Dalton (Xtra Clothing and Shoes BMW E46 M3 CSL)

Perhaps as a result of first day jitters, the attrition rate was a little high. After losing Lorenzo Gualtieri in qualifying and Scheckter on the third lap, the field then lost Varish Ganpath (Prodigy BMW E46 325ci) who retired with a broken motor, a fate which also befell Einkamerer. Jan Eversteyn had his race cut short with an electrical problem, while Salvi Gualtieri (Eataly Foods/SAVSpeed BMW E36 328i Turbo) slowed towards the end of the 8-lap race with an overheating engine. Another Class B stalwart, Oz Biagioni (Bio Pool Maintenance BMW E46 M3) grappled with power steering issues. Renier Smith struggled with fuel surge, while Troy Cochran called it a day after the race with a broken oil cooler.

At the flag, Dalton won from Meier with young Robertson announcing his arrival in the series with a solid third. Matthew Wadeley won Class C ahead of Cochran. In Class D Neil Reynolds fended off Shane Grobler (Mayfair Gearbox BMW E30 325i) and Alan Hilligenn (C3 Shared Services BMW E36 M3), while in Class E Craig Herbst led home Manny Ribeiro (Bridgestone/BMW Car Club E46 325i Touring) and Nicholas Fischer.

Class B: Andreas Meier (#TrainedAmateurs BMW E36 STC)
Class B: Andreas Meier (#TrainedAmateurs BMW E36 STC)

Race 2

Despite all the mechanical gremlins, a late afternoon start saw only 4 cars missing from the grid for race 2, and at 16.13 Scheckter led the pack off the line. Adrian Dalton however was in no mood to take prisoners and jumped into the lead and romped away. After just two corners however, Carlo Garbini tagged Salvi Gualtieri. The former was out on the spot with a broken steering, while the latter carried on as best he could with his car shedding bodywork as the race progressed.

Class C: Matthew Wadeley (BMW E36 M3)
Class C: Matthew Wadeley (BMW E36 M3)

When the dust settled, Jagger Robertson slotted into second spot, with Meier giving furious chase. This looks like a stirring duel to be played out in the coming races, the young upstart driving with aplomb and maturity beyond his years, taking on a master who will not easily relinquish his crown. Behind the pair, Lyle Ramsay was on his own leading Class C, having started in pole from a reverse grid, but behind him the all-whites were enjoying a good scrap of their own. Nek Makris, racing for the first time since 2019, Matthew Wadeley, Renier Smith and Fabio Fedetto were all circulating almost in unison in their white liveried machines and serving an appetizer for what should be a vintage 2021.

Neil Reynolds again looked solid in Class D with Shane Grobler and Hilligenn giving chase within spitting distance, and In Class E Nicholas Fischer had his hands full with Ribeiro and newcomer Thomas Potgieter (Stonehill Properties BMW E87 128i) hot on his heels. After another 8 eventful laps Dalton took the overall honours ahead of Meier who worked hard to relieve young Jagger of second spot, beating him by just .200/sec over the line. Ramsay won Class C, Reynolds held it together to claim Class D and Fischer just pipped Ribeiro for the Class E honours.

Source:  Images: racepics