After two six-lap races in the Bridgestone Production Car series at Kyalami on February 23 it is a case of advantage Audi as Engen team mates Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka shared the honours. But another happy driver so far is Hennie Groenewald, whose efforts in the Sasol Subaru have netted him two second places in a car which is freshly-minted.
Stephen dominated the first race from pole, but Groenewald rapidly moved into second and kept a comfortable gap to Etienne van der Linde in the Pirtek-branded E90 BMW. His team mate Johan Fourie was less lucky, spinning out and ending up in the kitty litter, an event which brought out the safety car.
In Class T, Gavin Cronje (Castrol MINI) hunted down pole-sitter Kelvin van der Linde (Ferodo Golf) and made a comfortable pass with a lap to spare. Indyoil’s Graeme Nathan completed the podium.
In the second race, with the first six places in each class reversed, Sipuka led from start to finish, with Melvill Priest (Mueller Audi) a strong starter, as was Groenewald, whose team mate Richard Pinard was on pole in the second Subaru but fell back rapidly. Stephen slowly reeled in Priest for third, who dropped right out of contention when a tyre disintegrated. Van der Linde held on for fourth, ahead of Fourie, who was back in the fray.
Jacques Joubert (Indyoil Golf) took advantage of his reverse grid pole and seemed comfortable our front despite a slowly closing Nathan, who had picked off the Fords of Gary Formato (making another exceptional start) and Shaun Duminy. Lee Thompson was an impressive third, forced to pit in Race One and therefore starting from the back. Van der Linde limped across the line with a broken gearbox.
With the fastest laps in Race Two determining the grid for the next race, Sipuka starts from pole in the 12-lapper which ends the days proceedings, with Priest making it an all-Audi front row. In Class T Nathan and Thompson share the top spots, starting in that order.
Tyre management and team tactics are going to play a bigger role than in the ‘sprint’ races and there could be a surprise result…