PREVIEW: BRIDGESTONE PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP – ROUND 4
World-class production car racing makes its second visit of the season to Zwartkops, promising thrilling action from the first lap to the last. Hennie Groenewald heads into round 4 of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship looking to defend and grow his two-point lead at the head of the championship points table.
Team Sasol Racing fields a pair of Subaru WRX STI’s that SP Race Engineering Team Principal Carel Pienaar says will allow Groenewald and Richard Pinard to compete on merit for wins in the three-race programme.
“I’m expecting to have a pair of quick cars and be more competitive than we were in Port Elizabeth last month”, said the team boss. “Hennie is the only competitor in the series that has completed every one of the nine races held so far and finished well in the points in each heat, which I put down in part to the inherent attributes of the Subaru product and the technology found in the Sasol Turbo Fuels Plus and Sasol Techno Oils we use”.
Championship leader Groenewald is upbeat about racing at Zwartkops again: “We have an indication that the Subaru is quick so we are going to concentrate on maintenance issues in our pre race test and make sure the gremlins are ironed out as well as try out a few set-up issues to maximize the WRX STI’s inherently superb handling”.
The modest driver gained two extra points last time out for setting the fastest lap time in races 1 and 3!
“The car is a different beast to what we rolled out at Zwartkops at the beginning of March”, Groenewald continued. “The car has the potential to win races and if we can step up our pace a bit after Port Elizabeth, then I’m fairly confident Zwartkops will be good to us”.
Tactics in the races are equally important. “Grid positions for the double-points paying race 3 are decided in race 2 so the pressure is on to get the fastest lap in the second heat. I’m happy to be leading the championship and the inland races offer our best opportunity to extend our lead”, said Groenewald.
For Richard Pinard, expectations are more modest, having borne the brunt of the team’s misfortunes this year. “I would like a few good, clean and competitive races, thank you very much! The team has worked hard to find solutions to the problems I’ve had and they are confident I will have a racy Subaru for the weekend”.
“I know I’ve got some work to do and I will hopefully be the rear gunner for Hennie on the day. The pressure is building as the year progresses – the chips are down”, said Pinard.
“The whole team is pretty confident at the moment and with only one more coastal race and three inland events on the calendar, the Sasol Subaru team is in good shape”.
Looking to the competition, Groenewald expects the Audi teams to be strong while the BMW squad – quick in a straight line – appeared to have handling issues at the Aldo Scribante circuit. “I was surprised by their relative lack of pace in PE and Zwartkops is a similar type of track so they may struggle a bit on the tight sections”, is Groenewald’s analysis of who the movers and shakers could be.
The last word goes to Carel Pienaar: “We’ve progressed a bit on our speed and the Subarus will be more competitive that we were at Port Elizabeth. Richard has the same equipment as Hennie so maybe he must try something new, like not shaving or something, to change his luck”.
Team Sasol Racing gratefully acknowledges their partners Subaru, AutoZone, MIR Sports Clothing and Shatterprufe windscreens.