A bright new star emerged in the Bridgestone Super Production Car series at Killarney, Cape Town on March 16 with Ferodo-sponsored Gennaro Bonafede taking a popular win in the 14-lap feature race, just holding off reigning champion Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme) in a similar Audi S4.
The lanky Pretoria engineering student was almost speechless with delight, paying tribute to a team which seems willing to go to any lengths to ensure the best possible result.
“Wow – I can’t believe it – just weeks after my worst race meeting ever I have a flag to flag win and my first in the Ferodo Audi,” he enthused. “At the end the tyres were going off and I can’t remember when I was last so happy to see the flag!”
Stephen had been hot on his bumper for a number of laps and second was a highlight of a frustrating weekend. His team mate Tschops Sipuka was third, a mere few-tenths further back and a result was also a welcome one. Just a second separated the three after 14 hard laps.
A number of competitors didn’t get off the grid (and Devin Robertson in the Big Boss Renault didn’t get out of the pits after his engine woes continued): Michael van Rooyen in the Williams Hunt Chevrolet Cruze ran into the back of Gary Formato, who had stalled his Castrol Ford Focus ST on the grid, the resultant impact eliminating both cars. If nothing else, the incident demonstrated just how quickly the Killarney marshals can clear a grid of a damaged car.
En route to the first corner there was a three-way coming together as Hennie Groenewald found his Sasolracing Subaru STI sandwiched between the two Afrox BMWs, the resultant bumping and bashing leaving Johan Fourie with suspension so badly rearranged that the car was undriveable. There was further argy-bargy between Groenewald and the Mueller Audi S4 of Melvill Priest, the two tangling when the latter missed a gear and they ended up vying for the same piece of tarmac.
Stephen working his way through the field was one of the highlights of the event, and if there was a 15th lap he may well have been celebrating a win.
With the class T numbers decimated early on it was left to the Indyoil Golfs of Graeme Nathan and Jacques Joubert and the Castrol MINI of Gavin Cronje to provide the action. That more or less dissolved when Nathan’s gearbox shed most of its gears, the reigning champion eventually left with only third, limping around and still managing fourth place…
Cronje progressively pulled away slowly from Joubert, the MINI proving to be exceptionally strong on the brakes. In third place was Shaun Duminy (Castrol Ford Focus ST), adamant that this would be his last race in the old car.
The twisted and battle-scarred evident in the post-race paddock suggest there’s plenty of work to be done by plenty of teams if they’re going to be in Port Elizabeth in three weeks’ time for Round Three, and Monday March 18 won’t be a rest day for any of the Bridgestone Super Production Car teams.