Bridgestone Production Car Class A Championship
Round 4 Result
Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria West, 4 May 2013
Issued on: 6 May 2013
VAN DER LINDE AND BMW DOMINANT AT ZWARTKOPS RACEWAY
Etienne van der Linde, showing all the skill and class that made him a multiple South African champion in both single seater and production car racing, dominated the fourth round of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday.
At the wheel of the class A Team Afrox with Pirtek BMW M Performance Parts 335i, Van der Linde accumulated a rich haul of 41 championship points (lifting him from seventh to third in the point standings) from two pole positions, two race wins and three fastest race laps. He was the overall victor on the day.
He took a lights to flag victory in the first of the day’s two nine-lap sprint races from pole position, receiving the chequered flag nearly seven secoinds ahead of defending champion Michael Stephen (Audi). With a reverse grid in operation for race two, he started fifth and finished third, pressuring second-placed Melvill Priest (Audi) and closing to within half a second at the chequered flag.
The feature race over 14 laps counted for double points and Van der Linde took full advantage of his second pole position, earned for recording the fastest lap in race two, and raced to another convincing win 5,5 second ahead of Priest and Stephen.
“This was much better,“ said a relieved Van der Linde in the post-race paddock. “After our poor showing in the last round in PE, we really had to get our championship campaign back on track and we sure did today; I’m delighted!” The ADF Motorsport team put in a lot of effort preparing two good race cars for this weekend. These great results are for them.”
Team-mate and also a former class A champion Johan Fourie was out of luck on this occasion. Coming in to the weekend he was second in the championship after two wins and four podiums, but went home frustrated and fifth in the point standings after a DNF in race one and two fifth places.
His weekend started well enough with third in qualifying, but he was hit from behind in an opening lap incident in race one and forced to retire after completing only two laps with a badly damaged left front wheel assembly, sustained when he was pushed into the car in front of him.
Starting race two from sixth on the grid, he pushed hard to finish fifth with an indifferent handling car after a hard-fought battle with Tschops Sipuka (Audi), during which he passed Sipuka on lap four, but was unable to make it stick.
He was out of luck in the important feature race in which he shared the front row of the grid with his team-mate and was counting on earning a rich haul of points. For the first 10 laps of the 14-lap race the two BMWs dictated the pace from the front, despite the fact that second-placed Fourie was already feeling the effects of a delaminating rear tyre from about half distance. The disintegrating tyre eventually ripped off the rear bumper and Fourie was forced to settle for a disappointing fifth place, a lap in arrears after a brief visit to the pits.
“It didn’t go our way today, but it was a great day for the team,” said a philosophical Fourie. “I’m not discouraged, though. We have a great car and our focus now turns to preparing for the next round in five weeks’ time.”
Durban‘s street circuit is the venue for the fifth round of the championship on June 15 and 16.
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.