Bridgestone Production Car Class A Championship
Round 3 Result
Aldo Scribante, Port Elizabeth, 6 April 2013
FOURIE RETAINS SECOND PLACE IN CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER PE RACES
It was an incident-filled third round of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship that saw Team Afrox/Pirtek BMW’s Johan Fourie retain his second place in the Class A championship after a second and a third in the two eight-lap sprint races and fourth in the 16-lap feature race.
For team-mate Etienne van der Linde, in the second of the two BMW M Performance Parts 335i cars, it was a frustrating day’s racing with a meagre five points to add to his total, dropping him from fourth to seventh in the standings.
After qualifying second just 0,005 sec behind polesitter and championship leader Michael Stephen (Audi S4), former champion Fourie was passed by the Audi of Melvill Priest on lap four of the opening sprint race and then held off a strong late challenge from the Subaru of Hennie Groenewald to take the final podium spot.
Van der Linde, who struggled in qualifying to post the sixth fastest time, was engaged in a fierce battle with the Audi of Gennaro Bonafede for sixth place for much of the race, with the BMW driver in front until the penultimate lap when there was contact and Bonafede emerged ahead at the chequered flag.
Starting fourth in the reverse grid race two, Fourie did well to finish second behind the Audi of Tschops Sipuka and ahead of the Audi of Priest. Van der Linde started seventh and made up a place during the short race to take sixth place at the flag.
Incidents involving both drivers prevented the team from taking full advantage of the double points on offer in the longer feature race.
Fourie passed Bonafede for fourth on lap two and then had to fend off the Audi driver, who made an ambitious move on lap four which saw him finish in fourth place ahead of Fourie. Bonafede was later penalised by the clerk of the course and placed behind Fourie in the official results.
Van der Linde made a move on a three-car battle for third at the start of lap nine and ended up off the road on the outside of turn one with a broken rear wheel after contact with Bonafede. A post-race investigation saw the contact declared a racing incident, with Van der Linde very unhappy about scoring no points.
“We knew we’d be up against it today,“ said Afrox/Pirtek BMW team principal Donovan van Heerden. “This weekend was all about consolidation and protecting our championship positions. The Aldo Scribante circuit is always a challenge for the two-wheel drive cars, but we have some circuits coming up now where we’ll be a lot stronger, starting with Zwartkops next month.”
In addition to principal sponsor Afrox, the team enjoys backing from BMW M Performance Parts, EPS Courier Services, Castrol, Akrapovic Exhaust Systems and new partners Pirtek and BrakeQuip.