Kyalami: Champs stay on top
WELL-FOUGHT WIN: Johan Fourie took the overall victory in the final race of the Super Series at Kyalami on Saturday (Feb 23).
Reigning champions Michael Stephen (Class A Audi A4) and Graeme Nathan (Class T VW Golf) started their Bridgestone Production Car title defences in the best possible way at Kyalami on February 23: each taking a win, second and third in a trio of races.
Johan Fourie (BMW) took overall victory in the final event - at 12 laps double the distance of the two previous sprints - and leading Stephen home. The day gave the latter a rich point haul: he received three bonus points for his Superpole performance and another for the fastest lap in Race One. He now has 28 points.
A similar story emerged in class T, with Nathan finishing with a brace of podiums, two points for second in Superpole, plus a fastest lap to leave Kyalami on 27 points.
The final race of the Super Series programme on a scorching Highveld day was a ding-dong affair and while it was Priest who initially led, he slipped into the clutches first of Fourie and then Stephen.
The same backward progress happened to Hennie Groenewald, who seemed to be on track for a dream debut of his Subaru, but the engine expired at half distance and he limped to the finish.
Tschops Sipuka had a troubled outing from pole in the Audi and fell back as a result of a missed gearshift and eventually finished fourth on the road – dropping to 9th overall when slapped with a 30 second penalty for a jumped start.
The race was also interrupted by the appearance of the safety car, brought out by Lee Thompson’s Mini, whose motor blew in the Esses and he spun off on his own oil, causing consternation for the oncoming traffic.
Class T had seen the Fords start well but they couldn’t maintain the pace, and Nathan - wily campaigner that he is – hauled them in. Once again Gavin Cronje in the other Mini went quietly about his business, and popped up in second place, while Jacques Joubert (VW Golf), who won race two, emerged third after a mature drive.
The Bridgestone Production Car circus is looking forward to a three-week break before heading to Killarney in Cape Town, by which stage a number of key competitors will hopefully have sorted their reliability issues. Ford also hope to have their new-generation Focus STs ready.
The top three points position are as follows:
Class A: 1, Stephen (28); 2, Sipuka (18); 3, Fourie (17)
Class T: Nathan (27); Joubert (19), Cronje (19)