BRIDGESTONE PRODUCTION CARS – ROUND 1 (3RD MARCH)
Team Sasol Racing will field two Subaru WRX STI’s for Hennie Groenewald and Richard Pinard in the 2012 Bridgestone Production Car Championship which blasts into life at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 3rd March.
New rules and new cars will enhance the already competitive racing that is a feature of the series, something which lead driver Hennie Groenewald and team-mate Richard Pinard are relishing getting to grips with.
The cars will feature a striking new Sasol livery and reflect the additional support from Subaru, AutoZone, MIR Sports Clothing and Shatterprufe windscreens.
SP Race Engineering has tweaked their cars, concentrating on suspension and shock absorber improvements to improve handling even more. Team Principal Carel Pienaar said: “We haven’t re-engineered our cars but rather looked for small incremental enhancements to improve what was a competitive package last year. We have a slight drop in boost pressure this year but until we test just before the race weekend; I have only an educated guess as to what the effect will be”.
Hennie picks up on the Boss’ comments: “We had a great package at the start of last year and led the championship until the season mid-point, before reliability issues cost me a lot of points. The series’ Technical Working Group has started to address the insane speeds and resultant development costs which threatened the series’ sustainability”.
It’s a new season and a fresh start for the team, including the use of a new specification Bridgestone tyre. “During tyre testing, the new rubber is reported to have improved lap times by around a second without any spend from the teams”, Hennie explained. “I don’t believe the series controllers have gone far enough, but it’s a positive start. The problem last year was that as the opposition got faster, the team pushed the boat out and the package got a bit temperamental”.
“We were 3rd overall in our 2nd year competing with the Subaru and have set our sights on the top rung of the points log this year. There will be additional cars from Audi and BMW and the improvement on the grid size will result in a better show”, Hennie predicts. “I don’t believe any one driver will run away with the title. It will be important to bag good points on every round which means staying out of trouble and that is a big ask from such a combative field of racers!”
“I had some very good races last year and I want to build on what I achieved. I’ve done a lot of karting to hone my race-craft and I’m looking forward to putting everything into practice”, Richard says.
“I think driver conduct will be an issue again as it is such a close-fought championship. There are driving standards rules in place but it’s a double edged sword. Will I get into trouble if I try this, or don’t fight and lose a position – damned if we do and damned if we don’t is how I see it developing’, adds Richard.
Richard is a member of the Technical Working Group, who has worked hard to develop the show to improve the spectacle.
For 2012, races will feature 2 back-to-back sprint races of 6 laps each and a longer feature race over 12 laps. Qualifying will determine the starting positions for Race 1; the winner of the first sprint race will pick a card to decide whether 3, 4 or 6 cars are inverted for the second sprint race.
The fastest lap time from Race 2, irrespective of finishing position, will start from pole position for the longer 3rd race. The various cars’ base weight is determined at the start of the season and will remain the same for the duration of the year, consigning the much-maligned ‘success ballast’ system to the scrapheap.
“I believe these changes to the format will retain the Bridgestone Production Car Championship’s status as the premier event in the WesBank SuperSeries”, Richard concludes.
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Photographer: Danie van Jaarsveld Copyright