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Taylor keeps title hopes alive

2006-10-02 09:13
Defending class A and overall champion Anthony Taylor drove his Van der Linde Racing-prepared BMW 330i to a convincing win from pole position in race one, finishing 0,54 sec ahead of Shaun Watson-Smith (Audi A4 quattro) and 0,97 sec clear of Johan Fourie (Audi A4 quattro).

Team-mate Etienne van der Linde started from an unlikely ninth place on the grid after problems with his BMW on Friday afternoon and finished sixth, 5 sec behind Taylor.

Taylor?s main rival for the championship, Leeroy Poulter (Nissan 350Z), who enjoyed a 10-point advantage over the reigning champion, started from third place on the grid and finished fourth, allowing Taylor to close the gap on the championship points leader.

Race two saw Taylor start from fifth on the grid and Van der Linde from ninth.

Although the gaps to pole sitter Poulter were just 0,42s and 0,90s respectively, Taylor was not happy.

"As it turned out, the times were close - the first 11 cars were covered by less than a second - but I ended up in a very uncompetitive fifth place on the grid. With the circuit conditions favouring the four wheel drive Audi A4 quattros ? and three Audis qualifying ahead of me - I knew I had a tough battle on my hands.

"We got it right with qualifying for race one, but I employed the wrong tactics in the second qualifying session. We are required to qualify in both sessions on the same set of tyres and I should have done at least one warm-up before attempting a fast lap on the used tyres," he said.

It was a hard race for the champion. He survived the hectic opening laps and was fourth behind Johan Fourie (Audi A4 quattro), Poulter (Nissan 350Z) and Melvill Priest (Audi A4 quattro). Taylor came under severe pressure from Watson-Smith in yet another Audi A4 quattro in the opening laps and was forced to give way on lap 3.

It was then the Audi driver's turn to come under pressure from Taylor, but the BMW's tyres were not as effective as they had been in race one and Watson-Smith was able to fend off Taylor and take the flag in fourth place behind Fourie, Poulter and Priest.

Van der Linde again started from ninth on the grid and although he ran as high as seventh, he was never really in with a chance of a podium finish, struggling with the car?s set-up and suffered a broken gear lever.

Taylor's fourth place points, added to his haul for a pole position and a win in race one, equaled the number of points Poulter earned for his fourth place finish in race one and his pole and second place in race two.

So, with two rounds and four races of the Bridgestone SA Production Car Championship remaining, the two rivals remain separated by 10 points.

Danie Human: We came to Aldo Scribante knowing the AUDI's will be the car to beat on their home circuit, but very surprized at how fast they were in practise and qualifying.

The results was a good indication of the teams dedication and we have a lot of work to do before the next race in Capetown, in our effort to win the championship.

Provisional results:

Race one
1 Anthony Taylor (BMW 330i) 14m 6,14s; 2 Shaun Watson-Smith (Audi A4) +0,54s; 3 Johan Fourie (Audi A4) +0,97s; 4 Leeroy Poulter (Nissan 350Z) +1,36s; 5 Melvill Priest (Audi A4) +1,65s; 6 Etienne van der Linde (BMW 330i) +5,12s; 7 Gary Formato (Nissan 350Z) +8,50s; 8 Tschops Sipuka (Nissan 350Z) +10,53s; 9 Steve Morris (BMW 330i) +11,62s; 10 Marco da Cunha (Nissan 350Z) +14,68s; 11 Michael Stephen (Audi A4) +30,27s; 12 Reghardt Roets (Nissan 350Z) +36,09s. Fastest lap: Poulter, 1m 09,36s on lap 3.

Race two
1 Fourie (Audi) 13m 58,93s; 2 Poulter (Nissan) +1,86s; 3 Priest (Audi) +2,30s; 4 Watson-Smith (Audi) +5,60s; 5 Taylor (BMW) +8,06s; 6 Roets (Nissan) +9,25s; 7 Sipuka (Nissan) +12,06s; 8 Formato (Nissan) +18,25s; 9 Morris (BMW) +19,95s; 10 Van der Linde (BMW) +25,22s; 11 Da Cunha (Nissan) +26,24s. Fastest lap: Poulter, 1m 8,81s on lap 4 (new lap record).


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