THE Zwartkops race day proved a challenging event for competitors. Three races took their toll, but the Audi S4 quattro racers showed their style to ensure the event was another high note in the 2013 championship.
Melvill Priest (A7 – Mueller Sports Medicine) was the Audi S4 quattro racer who stepped to the fore at Zwartkops, finishing the weekend in second overall. Priest started his weekend by qualifying in fourth spot and claiming third in the first race. This was followed by a second place in race two and the final race of the day resulted in another second place.
For Priest the double points available in the feature race are most important to his championship standing and is a specific point of focus on race days.
“It was a strong weekend and I was amongst the quickest on the day,” says Priest. “In race one we were disadvantaged but in the second race I made a mistake and let Michael past. The practise sessions and racing showed we have the pace, so I’m happy with weekend.”
Defending champion, and championship leader, Michael Stephen (A2 – Engen Xtreme), found his weekend off to a slow start, qualifying in sixth, but constantly improved on this throughout the weekend, going from sixth in qualifying to second in race one and victory in race two. Race three saw Stephen cross the line in the feature race for third for an overall third place result.
“We were a bit slower than we expected initially,” says Stephen. “A few minor adjustments and we quickly picked up the pace and got stronger throughout the weekend. Luck was also on our side this weekend, and in racing, you make use of all situations to your advantage.”
Stephen’s teammate, Tschops Sipuka (A2 – Engen Xtreme) finished the day in fourth overall. Sipuka aimed for a stronger result and with two fourth place finishes was on track to achieve that result. The final race though saw Sipuka have to settle for a sixth place finish in Class A.
“This was a challenging race weekend,” says Sipuka. “I raced to the best of my ability, but when it comes to the results, we’ll just have to accept it. I’m positive the next one will be better.”
Gennaro Bonafede (A32 – Ferodo Racing) was in the top five when it came to posting qualifying times, but an accident in race one saw him unable to finish. In race two Bonafede again had to settle for the back of the field, but made a strong comeback in the final race to finish in fourth spot.
“We were quite confident after qualifying,” says Bonafede. “I made a judgement of error in race one, hitting Johan Fourie and that damaged the front end of my car. My team did well to fix it for the second race, they did a great job but it wasn’t quite where it needed to be so I returned to the pits and they focused on getting it ready for the feature race. In race three I started from the back and drove as hard as I could, keeping pressure on the other guys which resulted in a fourth place.”