A win for BMW at Zwartkops and second and third in the championship with two rounds remaining
Pretoria. A strong overall performance by both drivers in their BMW 335i M Performance Parts cars saw Team Afrox BMW with Pirtek come away with a race win (Johan Fourie), a third (Etienne van der Linde) and two fourths (one for each) in round seven of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria on Saturday.
In the process Van der Linde and Fourie retained their second and third places in the class A championship, which is still up for the taking with two rounds remaining.The day started well for the team with Fourie claiming pole position in qualifying in cold late winter conditions with Van der Linde third. Fourie led the opening nine-lap sprint race from start to finish with Van der Linde crossing the line in third place.
The second nine-lap sprint featured a grid with the top eight finishers in race one starting in reverse order. Van der Linde improved his start position by two places to finish fourth and set the fastest lap of the race to earn himself pole position for the all-important double-points feature race.
Fourie did well to finish sixth from eighth on the grid with the BMW’s handling badly affected after contact with another car on the opening lap and smoke pouring from the car as power steering fluid leaked on to the exhaust.
While Fourie again made up two places to cross the finish line in fourth place after 15 laps – which gave him second overall for the day just 0,085 seconds behind Hennie Groenewald – Van der Linde was unable to capitalise on his pole position. Contact with another car in the early laps damaged a wheel rim and the tyre started to deflate. He dropped to second place halfway through the race and then lost another four places in the last two laps as the tyre went flat.
“It was a disappointing end to what had otherwise not been too bad a day,“ remarked Van der Linde afterwards. “We chose to use a new set of tyres in race two to try and set fastest lap and secure pole position for race three. The downside of this was that we struggled for grip on worn tyres on an oily track in the feature race and lost out to rivals who started on fresh tyres.
“We’re retained our second place in the championship and with two rounds and six races remaining we’re still very much in with a chance to come out on top in the final round at Kyalami in November.“
Fourie was very happy with his win and overall performance during the weekend. “My very first win at Zwartkops at last! I can’t believe it. The team did a great job of preparing two quick cars for us. We just missed out on overall first for the day, but retained our third place in the championship. Six races to go and everything still to play for.“
The penultimate round of the championship is at Killarney in Cape Town on October 5.
In addition to principal sponsor Afrox, the team enjoys backing from Pirtek, BMW M Performance Parts, EPS Courier Services, Castrol, Akrapovic Exhaust Systems and BrakeQuip.