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Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series - Round 2

2018-03-16 14:28


Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series Round 2 at Phakisa. Image: Racepics.co.za / Reynard Gelderblom

Phakisa Freeway - The second round of the 2018 Bridgestone Club Racing Series saw the championship round forming part of the Bridgestone BMW CCG Phakisa Track Weekend in Welkom.

Over 35 cars made the trip to the Free State for the race day on Saturday, March 10 at the iconic Phakisa Freeway.


Saturday morning saw a new man topping the timesheets during the qualifying session in reigning Engen Polo Cup champion Devin Robertson (Big Boss Auto BMW E46 GTR). Julian Fameliaris (Afrivalve/Lube-Net - BMW E36 328i Turbo) set the second fastest time to secure the outside slot on the front row.

After missing the opening round of the championship Dino Fameliaris (C-Tech/Afrivalve BMW E36 M3 Turbo) got his season underway by qualifying in the third position. Paulo Loureiro (Combined Racing/J&K Customs BMW E36 M3 GTS) and Willie Erasmus (Big Boss Auto/Viking Mining BMW E46 M3 GTR) made their intentions clear to continue their entertaining battle from Midvaal Raceway by lining up in fourth and fifth positions respectively. It was also a welcome return to the series for Stefano Martinelli (Dalucon Insulated Panels - BMW E36 328i Turbo) who rounded out the top-six.

The addition of the Bridgestone BMW Car Club race car has become customary in the series since the penultimate round of the 2017 championship. This round, however, saw an additional car being added with Michael Broom in so dubbed, Sandbag (Bridgestone BMW E46 325i Touring) qualifying in thirtieth position. The weekend’s driver of the Bridgestone Club Car, Colin van Son (Bridgestone BMW E36 328i) brought up the rear of the pack.

       Michael Broom in the Sandbag Bridgestone BMW E46 325i Touring. Image: Racepics.co.za/Reynard Gelderblom 

Race 1

For Julian, it was already a terrible start to the weekend even before the sighting lap. A blown head gasket saw him out of contention for the rest of the weekend. There were also doubts over twenty-fifth placed qualifier Oz Biagioni (Bio Pool Maintenance BMW E46 M3) making the start due to a fuel pipe coming loose. Despite making his way out of the pits, the car was quickly brought back to prepare it for the second heat.

With an open grid slot next to him, Robertson was able to make a clean start and kept the pack well at bay through the opening sequence of corners and bends to settle into a comfortable lead. This, despite having to change a gearbox in the 45 minutes between qualifying and heat one. 

Dino and Paulo also settled into a rhythm early on. The first major battle on track was between Erasmus and Rick Loureiro (Combined Racing/CPW - BMW E30 325is); the latter making a good start from his eighth position on the grid. On Lap 3 Rick passed Erasmus for position, but a lap later the running order changed again. The last couple of laps saw Rick losing more positions as his car developed mechanical issues. Despite looking strong in the midfield Salvi Gualtieri (Eataly/Savspeed BMW E36 382i) was also forced into retirement with a water pump failure.

Robertson took a comfortable win in the opening race. Dino’s second place saw him claiming victory in Class T with Paulo who finished in third rounded off the race podium also taking the win in Class B.

Erasmus brought his car home in the fourth position followed by Martinelli; the latter looking very impressive throughout the race despite having a somewhat lonely race after breaking away from the chasing pack. Paul Munro (BMW E46 M3) finished in sixth place ahead of Andreas Meier (BMW E36 M3) and Rick limping home. Defending series champion Jan Eversteyn (Bavaria 0.0% Racing BMW E46 M3) finished in ninth position. 

Tyrone Dawson (BMW E36 M3) made his way past Len-Henry Gobey (Lesavert BMW E39 M5) on the opening lap with Antonie Marx (Atomic Oil BMW E46 M3) also passing Gobey a lap later. Marx looked strong throughout but was unable to challenge Dawson in the end. The tenth spot overall and the Class C victory went to Dawson with an entertaining tussle during the race for the other class C podium positions. 

Further back in sixteenth position Alan Hilligenn (BMW E36 328i) took the Class D win ahead of Neil Reynolds (BMW E36 M3). The Class D battle between the two club cars saw Broom beating Van Son.

Top 3 Results by Class in Race 1

Class T:
1. Dino Fameliaris - 01:46.877
2. Stefano Martinelli - 01:49.215

Class A:
1. Devin Robertson - 01:44.718

Class B:
1. Paulo Loureiro - 01:48.528
2. Willie Erasmus - 01:48.773
3. Paul Munro - 01:50.881

Class C:
1. Tyrone Dawson - 01:52.653
2. Antonie Marx - 01:53.025
3. Len-Henry Gobey - 01:53.792

Class D:
1. Alan Hilligenn - 01:18.612
2. Neil Reynolds - 01:57.839
3. Warren Dodd - 01:58.481

Fastest Lap: Devin Robertson (1:44.718) in Lap 2

Race 2

The second race saw the customary inverted start-per-class on the grid. With Robertson being the sole Class A runner, this made his job even easier at the front while the rest of the pack sorted out their positions during the opening laps. The first lap saw Dino and Erasmus also dropping back in the order with Alex Desogus (Alvic Engineering BMW E36 M3), Biagioni and Munro as early retirements. 

The first group of drivers settled into a similar rhythm to what was seen in the first race. Robertson took another comfortable victory in the race and Class A with Paulo and Rick filling the other two podium positions and; Paulo also taking the Class B win. Meier finished in the fourth position with Eversteyn in fifth place. Following the opening lap, Erasmus sliced his way through the pack to finish in an impressive sixth position. 

Dino also made up a host of positions to finish the race in the seventh position; taking the Class T win in the process as the sole runner with Martinelli not starting the race. Closely behind him, Marx crossed the line in the eighth position to take the Class C win after holding off Renier Smith (Viking Mining BMW E36 M3). Shane Grobler (Mayfair Gearbox BMW E36 328i) fought Gobey off for the tenth position. Twelfth position finisher Warren Dodd (BMW E90 330i) took the Class D win. The Bridgestone Club Car battle went the way of Van Son this time around with Broom closely tucked-in behind him.

Top 3 Results by Class in Race 2
Class T:

1. Dino Fameliaris - 01:49.314

Class A:
1. Devin Robertson - 01:47.036

Class B:
1. Paulo Loureiro - 01:49.835
2. Rick Loureiro - 01:48.624
3. Andreas Meier - 01:51.761

Class C:
1. Antonie Marx - 01:54.706
2. Renier Smith - 01:54.681
3. Shane Grobler - 01:57.853

Class D:
1. Warren Dodd - 01:59.113
2. Alan Hilligenn - 02:00.187
3. Neil Reynolds - 01:58.092

Fastest Lap: Devin Robertson (1:47.036) in Lap 2

Overall Classification for the Day

Class A saw comfortable wins for Devin Robertson who also took the Driver of the Day award in the process. Dino took the victory in Class A while with Martinelli in second place after his first race finish.

Two wins on the day gave Paulo the Class B honours ahead of Erasmus. Rick took to the third step of the podium. Class C went to Marx ahead of Smith who coupled in his second place in Race 2 with a fourth-place finish in Race 1. The winner of Race 1 Dawson finished sixth in Class C in Race 2, but scored enough points to take the third podium spot. A win and a second place saw Hilligenn ahead of Dodd in Class D with Reynolds in third.

From the Cockpit:

#76 - Devin Robertson - Big Boss Auto E46 M3 GTR - Winner Class A
"It was a really good weekend as the car has not been raced for the last 5 years, but we have done a bit of testing before this race. We went out on Friday with old boots and car really seemed good, and we did 2 sessions for the day. Saturday we changed to new tyres on the car, and the car handled even better but broke fourth gear coming out of the Coke Bottle bowl. We however still got pole position for the race.

"Luckily we had brought a spare gearbox with but only had 40 minutes to change it. With the car and engine parts still hot we got it done. Just as the pit lane opened, we were lowering the car on the jack. From there it was literally a flag to flag win in both heats. Thanks to my team at Big Boss Auto for their hard work that made all this possible."

#58 - Dino Fameliaris - C-Tech/Afrivalve E36 M3 Turbo - Winner Class T
"My weekend was extremely exhilarating! Going through that first turn with all those engines roaring behind me gave me a sense of excitement. That rush and the speed is what keep me coming back for more. Thanks to my dad, friends and family for all your undying support."

#7 - Willie Erasmus - Viking Racing/Big Boss Auto E46 M3 GTR - Second Class B
"After qualifying fifth overall, I managed a second in class in Race 1 and fourth overall. Race 2 I started right at the back of the grid. Racing hard to make up places I spun out through turn 4 but still managed to finish the race sixth overall and fifth in class. Big thanks to Big Boss Auto and Viking Racing for their hard work and support over the weekend."

#5 - Renier Smith - Viking Mining Solutions E36 M3 - Second Class C
"It was my first time at Phakisa and was extremely excited to race there! My Saturday did not start as I had planned though and I missed some practice sessions due to mechanical and tyre issues. It was a mad rush to get everything done in time for Qualifying and barely made it. I could not find my rhythm and qualified down in seventeenth. 

"The start was Ok; I managed to pass three cars on the first lap and settled in behind the class B car of Morne Visagie for a couple of laps until he retired. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful with nobody close in front, or behind so I just used the rest of the laps to try and find some rhythm. I finished fourth in class and thirteenth overall.

"Race 2 and reverse grid saw me starting Race 2 from the fourteenth place. I was feeling a lot more comfortable in the seat and was able to overtake a couple of cars on the first lap. By lap three I was up to ninth place overall and could see the cars in first and second place in class just a little up the road. The car was really feeling good, and I was able to put in some good laps and was catching the leader. I eventually ran out of laps and finished second in class and ninth overall. 

With a few protagonists putting their hands up to take the lead in their respective classes it has become clear others rose to the challenge by denying some leaders outright race wins in this round. More of this can be expected at the next round of the championship that will form part of the Historic Tour at the popular Zwartkops Raceway on the 7th of April 2018."

BMW Car Club Gauteng
Website: www.bmwcarclub.co.za
Facebook: BMW Car Club Gauteng
Twitter: @BMWCarClubGP

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