Production cars heat up Scribante
THE STARS OF ALDO SCRIBANTE: Michael Stephens' Audi S4 put in a commanding performance at Port Elizabeth's Aldo Scribante circuit on Saturday, April 28.
The Bridgestone Production Car championship headed to Port Elizabeth on the long weekend for the third round of the national Wesbank Super Series where Michael Stephen was the star performer in his Audi S4.
The fair weather and free day off from work and school on Friday, April 27, saw a number of fans making their way to the Aldo Scribante circuit for the day’s practice sessions.
The sessions were exceptionally close, but Michael Stephen (Audi S4), Johan Fourie (S4) and Hennie Groenewald (Subaru WRX STI) all featured strongly while, Saturday’s qualifying session saw more of the same.
Stephen took pole from Fourie and Groenewald while Tschops Sipuka (Audi S4) lined up fourth on the grid with Lee Thompson (BMW 335i) in fifth position.
Anthony Taylor (BMW 335i), Melvill Priest (Audi S4), Etienne van der Linde (BMW 335i), Richard Pinard (Subaru WRX STI) and Nieyaaz Modack (Audi A4) were the top ten qualifiers.
Fourie, Priest and Sipuka, however, were later moved to the back of the grid after data showed their Audi’s boost pressures were too high.
Graeme Nathan (Volkswagen Golf GTI) qualifying a full second ahead of the rest of the Class T field where Michael van Rooyen (Opel Astra OPC) was the best of the rest, qualifying marginally ahead of Jacques Joubert (Volkswagen Golf GTI). Gennaro Bonafede (Volkswagen Golf GTI) qualified ahead of the Ford Focus STs of Gary Formato and Shaun Duminy, while Ebrahim Levy (Volkswagen Golf GTI) was the final qualifier.
In race one, although Stephen had a good rolling start, he couldn't pull away from Groenewald and the two had a race-long fight for the lead. Taylor, van der Linde and Thompson were in a tussle of their own as they jostled for third place.
In the end, Stephen took the win from Groenewald while Taylor and van der Linde finished second and third, respectively.
In Class T, Graeme Nathan was unchallenged although proceedings behind him were not going as easily for his rivals. Joubert edged ahead of van Rooyen on the first lap and spent the next seven laps defending that position, although van Rooyen was happy to take the final podium spot.
Formato was up to fourth place, before his alternator stopped working and he limped home a lap behind while Levy retired at the end of the first lap.
For the second race, the top four finishers in each class were inverted and, as the pole sitter, Etienne van der Linde chose to have a rolling start. The field got away cleanly and van der Linde kept his lead from Taylor and Groenewald, while Stephen was caught in a five-way tussle for fourth with Thompson, Sipuka, Fourie and Priest at bay.
A lap later, Stephen successfully challenged Groenewald for third before closing down on Taylor for the second position. After passing Taylor, he chased down van der Linde and while Stephen made a last-ditch effort to pass as the chequered flag came out, the BMW held on to take the win by one tenth of a second.
Groenewald took third with Fourie working his way into fourth.
Meanwhile, there was some start line confusion in Class T as, although Bonafede was meant to take up the pole position, van Rooyen was first across the line and led Bonafede and Nathan by the end of the first lap.
By the third lap, Nathan had worked his way into the race lead and went on to take his second unchallenged victory of the day, while van Rooyen crossed the line ahead of Bonafede for the final podium positions. Van Rooyen was later moved behind Bonafede as a result of the start line confusion.
Stephen took up the pole position in the final race, based on the fastest lap times in race two, and opted for a standing start.
There was a lot of action on the start line the four-wheel drive cars launched off the line when the lights went out, although Priest was left stranded in his grid box after he had inadvertently left his S4 in reverse after lining up…
As Priest dropped the clutch, he went flying into Thompson although Priest reacted quickly to snap his car into first gear and no major damage was caused.
Going into turn one, Fourie and van der Linde were side by side, but Fourie was running out of track and the two cars touched. As van der Linde spun in front of Fourie, Sipuka used the opportunity to catapult himself into third and, by the end of the race, Stephen lead from Groenewald and Sipuka.
Nathan led the Class T field from pole position, but by lap four the rest of the field was scrambled as Formato passed Duminy for third, leaving Duminy and Joubert to have a huge scrap behind him.
Van Rooyen took the race lead on lap five and was delighted with his first win of the season, while Nathan took second and Bonafede passed Formato for the final podium spot.
The next round of the championship will take place at the Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on May, 26.