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Loureiro takes championship title during successful BMW Club day at Kyalami

2018-12-05 16:00

Reynard Gelderblom

BMW Club Racing Series

Image: Paul Blackburn

The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit played host to a dramatic conclusion to the 2018 Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series on Saturday, December 1. 

Antonie Marx, who led the category championship for the bulk of the season lost his one-handed grip on the trophy in the most unfortunate manner. This saw Paulo Loureiro taking the title as 2018 champion.

READ: Action, twists and battle for points as action at the BMW Club Racing Series heats up

The day formed part of the full track and lifestyle day at the Midrand circuit and convention centre; one of the highlights on the BMW Car Club Gauteng’s annual calendar.

Championship titles dramatically decided

It was indeed a rollercoaster week heading into the season finale for Marx. The engine on his Class C BMW M3 failed during a practice stint prior to the race day.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                         Image: Reynard Gelderblom

This saw his Kyalami participation being thrown into severe doubt, but fortunately, the team obtained another unit which they fitted with mere hours to spare prior to Round 8. Sadly, the morning's first practice session saw this engine fail as well; effectively eliminating him from the event and the championship battle.

This, however, did not hand the title to Paulo Loureiro on a silver platter. Facing a formidable host of competitors in Class B, he knew he had his work cut out for him.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                          Image: Paul Blackburn

During both races, the front of the field was dominated by Class T debutant Elwyn Steenkamp. Although a new name to the single-manufacturer category, the G&H Transport Extreme Supercars regular stamped his authority on the weekend with two victories behind the wheel of his M3.

This was however aided by the early retirement of regular class frontrunners Lorenzo Gualtieri and David Coetzee. Kashen Naicker in the 335i offered a degree of competition, but during both races, he was forced into retirement around the midway mark.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                        Image: Reynard Gelderblom

The first race saw Rick Loureiro and Adrian Dalton taking the runner-up positions on the podium with Stefano Martinelli and Faizel Coetzee finishing second and third in Race 2.

Paulo Loureiro indeed rose to the occasion with two solid wins in Class B. The first race saw him creating a sizeable gap ahead of Jannie Breedt.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                        Image: Reynard Gelderblom

During the second reverse-grid race he had to slice his way through the field and hold off a persistent Breedt through the latter stages. In Race 1, Willie Erasmus took third place while Jan Eversteyn rounded out the podium in Race 2.

With Marx's early retirement and with the battle for second place in Class C still raging, it was Trevor Long who took a superb double-victory on the day. The first race saw Shane Grobler finishing in second place ahead of his father Mike.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                           Image: Reynard Gelderblom

In Race 2 it was Craig Ball in second place with Shane Grobler taking his second podium finish for the day in third position. This event also saw a separate trio of invitational drivers in Class C, but not competing for championship points. Ammaar Coetzee and Mish-al Sing shared the spoils for the two races.

Hilligenn effectively only needed 1 point from the 20 on-offer to secure his Class D title. This he did with his second-place finish in Race 1 behind Matthew Wadely. Race 2 saw the positions reversed with Hilligenn taking the victory. Both races saw Nek Makris rounding out the podium.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                            Image: Corne Britz

Coetzee already clinched the Class T championship earlier during the season with 68 points. A mammoth 36 points further back Dino Fameliaris clinched second place with 32 points.

Although he was also a retiree during the season finale, he kept his position through Gualtieri’s retirement which saw the latter unable to eliminate the 4-point deficit.

Throughout 2018, Class A was scarcely contested. This saw Rick Loureiro taking the honours with 54 points ahead of Devin Robertson with 12 points obtained with his double-victory during Round 2 at the Phakisa Freeway.

Paulo Loureiro took the Class B honours with 119 points ahead of outgoing champion Eversteyn on 80 points and Willie Erasmus on 76 points. Marx secured Class C during the penultimate round of the season with 103 points ahead of Shane Grobler with 94 points and Neil Reynolds on 76 points.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                        Image: Reynard Gelderblom

Hilligenn with 114 points took Class D ahead of Makris with 89 points. Troy Cochran finished the season in third place with 79 points. The category champion for 2018 is Paulo Loureiro ahead of Hilligenn and Marx.

Successful lifestyle day hosted by the club despite unforeseen delays 

Unlike the 2017 edition of the event, 2018 saw the club’s race series form part of the programme. This saw the added spectator value of a competitive championship decider added to the day’s on-track activities which included passenger Hot Laps hosted by the BMW SA Driving Experience team and a track day open to all vehicle makes.

A highlight for all motorsport fans was certainly the display and parade featuring six of the marque’s most prestigious models that competed in South African motorsport.

The main pit building also featured displays of both the club and the local Midrand BMW dealership’s range of lifestyle accessories. And at this event, you were indeed encouraged to walk around pit lane with a beer thanks to Bavaria 0.0% handing out their alcohol-free products to everyone. Who says 09:00 is too early for a cold one?

In my years of attending automotive events, I’ve never come across an event that ran without flaws. This one was no exception.

The widely reported problems with South Africa’s struggling, state-owned power utility Eskom resulted in unforeseen delays due to the latest round of load-shedding that was introduced during the end of November.

Issues regarding communication added to the frustration due to the network outage experienced by Cell C, the venue’s communications partner. Further hold-ups were caused by on-track accidents which resulted in lengthy recoveries by an outside contractor.

BMW Club Racing Series

                                                                      Image: Paul Blackburn

Although none of these problems could have been prevented by the club, the proactive way they as event organisers dealt with every obstacle deserves a mention.

And it must also be noted that we are not talking about full-time function coordinators either; most of the group involved with all the arrangements specialise more in other forms of business. They are however guided by their passion for the brand, the lifestyle and their eagerness to share this with all.

In the last two years, I have been fortunate to attend 90% of the club’s events. The professional way they grow family bonds through a shared desire for entertainment have seen them become the largest single-manufacturer owners club in South Africa. The 2018 club event at Kyalami has certainly been one of the highlights of my season in motorsport journalism. 

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