Three incident-filled practice sessions marked the return of the Bridgestone Super Production Cars to the coast, with the battle lines now drawn for Saturday morning’s qualifying session, which gets underway at 09h30.
It seems the Afrox BMW 335s have come back with a vengeance after a Kyalami round which didn’t deliver what was hoped, and they topped the time sheets in all three sessions. In each instance Johan Fourie was ahead of Etienne van der Linde – by a reasonable margin each time – but as the burly Capetonian pointed out, one shouldn’t count one’s chickens before they hatch….
Nevertheless, the smart money will be on them to dominate the front of the grid in the morning, but the Audi S4s – particularly the Mueller example of Melvill Priest and the Gennaro Bonafede Ferodo car – kept them reasonably honest, though the gap to third fastest caused some worried expressions along the pitlane.
Priest had one of the most exciting days, forced to take violent evasive action after cars were let out of the pitlane prematurely, taking to the dirt on the inside of Hoal’s Hoek and damaging the car’s suspension in the process. The pit lane marshals were suitably reprimanded by Clerk of the Course, Wally Pappas, while Priest’s team was able to source the necessary parts from a roadgoing car.
Lee Thompson’s run of bad luck continued when his Castrol MINI threw a rod, liberally lubricating the pit straight and leaving Gavin Cronje to uphold team honour, which he did by setting fastest times in the first two sessions. The third session belonged to Michael van Rooyen – who looks like he is bouncing back in the Williams Hunt Cruze after a miserable Kyalami, followed by Shaun Duminy’s aging Focus and Devin Robertson’s Big Boss Renault.
But as in most forms of racing the free practice may not matter too much and the morning – and possibly the weather it brings – will determine whether Friday’s pecking order reflects Saturday’s starting order.