THE Audi S4 quattro racers will contest round five of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship on the streets of Durban on Saturday and Sunday, June 15 and 16. The racers will be in action as part of the TopGear Festival taking place in the city, bringing national motorsport action to the city’s racing fans.
The narrow street circuit poses very real risks for the competitors as there is no run-off area and any lap that isn’t inch-perfect will end in disaster. This creates the situation where racers not only have to be willing to drive hard, but they must also be cautious in not bringing their race weekend to a premature end.
For the defending champion, Michael Stephen (A1 – Engen Xtreme), the event will be about consolidating his position as the championship leader. With an advantage of 24 points his approach is likely to be about securing his position in the series, rather than aiming for race victories.
Behind Stephen is the second-placed Audi S4 quattro of Melvill Priest (A7 – Mueller Sports Medicine). Priest quite enjoyed his outing on the streets of Durban last year and is looking forward to racing there again this season. While enthusiastic about the event, Priest is not oblivious to the dangers posed by the narrow circuit.
Since the championship is all about points, he will be looking to score the maximum available at the event – without putting his Audi S4 quattro at risk. This means a fine balance will need to be maintained throughout the weekend.
For Tschops Sipuka (A2 – Engen Xtreme), the Durban event could play right into his hands. A good qualifying here could result in a serious move on third place in the championship. The gap from Sipuka’s current fourth to third place is five points. Those will be five hard-won points, but Sipuka’s sense of adventure could be the deciding factor in making this a reality.
Since the Bridgestone Production Car Championship includes reverse grids, a first-race victory could result in a less-than-ideal starting position for the following race. This has to be factored in to the thought process, especially when racers have to deal with a track that offers limited possibilities in terms of overtaking.
For Gennaro Bonafede (A32 – Ferodo Racing) the Durban event could mark the turning point in his season. From a slow start to 2013, he has steadily been building in results and this street race could see him turn the tables to dominate the race weekend. Bonafede will have to be cautious in his approach as it could just as easily turn out the opposite. He will need to employ every advantage offered by his Audi S4 quattro as he challenges the field for his spot on the podium.
With an unpredictable weekend of racing action waiting in KZN, the Audi S4 quattro racers will be on top form as they seek to claim the most points available at the event.