Zwartkops challenge for Castrol MINI John Cooper Works

  • Bridgestone Production Cars Class T Championship
  • Round 4 Preview
  • Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria West, 4 May 2013

Zwartkop Racing


The Bridgestone South African Production Car Championship visits the tight and twisty Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria for the first time this year on Friday and Saturday and the Castrol MINI John Cooper Works team of Gavin Cronje and Lee Thompson are ready and up for the challenge.

The two turbo-charged class T contenders, which are now powered by the new N18 variable valve engine that was recently launched in the MINI John Cooper Works GP road car, have come a long way since their debut at the popular Gauteng circuit almost exactly a year ago and both drivers will be hoping to add to the seven race wins they have accumulated to date.

Cronje, already a winner this year in round one at Kyalami in February, is coming off two second places in round three at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit and will be looking to go one better this weekend. Despite a DNF in one of Kyalami’s three races, the former karting and circuit racing champion is currently second in the class championship, 14 points behind defending champion Graeme Nathan (VW Golf).

“We’re very proud of the achievements of Gavin and Lee in their Castrol MINI John Cooper Works cars in their first year of participation in the Bridgestone production car championship,“ said Nandi Canning, PR and sponsorship manager of Castrol. “Motorsport is an important element of Castrol’s brand building and marketing strategy and we couldn’t be happier to be associated with such a professional and successful team. We look forward to an exciting and successful season.“

Accumulating as many points as possible is Cronje’s number one objective for Saturday. “We’ve enjoyed a good start to the new season and my intention is to take it to the next level by scoring maximum points for the day. I aim to come out of this fourth round at Zwartkops close to if not leading the championship. We have an excellent package and we must take advantage of it.”

Thompson, also a former circuit racing champion, is very familiar with the Zwartkops layout, where his racing driver academy is situated, and is confident he can break what has been a disappointing run of results so far this season. He is still seeking his first win after standing on the top step of the podium three times last year.

“We’ve struggled to carry our good form at the end of last year into this season,“ he admitted. “We’ve been testing since Port Elizabeth and I’m a lot more confident going into this weekend’s race meeting. We have a lot of ground to make up after scoring no points in the Cape Town round (technical problems in qualifying prevented him from contesting any of the races), so a good result on Saturday is an absolute must if we are to challenge for the class T title.“

In addition to principal sponsor Castrol, the team enjoys backing from MINI John Cooper Works, Ferodo, EPS Courier Services, Akrapovic Exhaust Systems and Powerbrake.