Character-building home race for Sasol GTC Racing Team

Pretoria, South Africa – The Sasol GTC Racing Team suffered a bruising day at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 12 August, recording just one fifth place result for Gennaro Bonafede in the first race making up round six of the Sasol GTC Championship.

The weekend started on a promising note when Robert Wolk scorched around the 2.4km circuit in a time good enough to snatch pole position by a scant 0.02 seconds. Bonafede was fifth fastest in qualifying, but only 0.189 second off the coveted grid slot.

Wolk scampered into the lead of the first 17-lap race but soon had brake problems in his BMW GTC racing car. This allowed Michael Stephen and Simon Moss (Audi GTC) to close and eventually pass the BMW. Mathew Hodges (VW Jetta) also passed Wolk, who worked hard to maintain fourth place until he was bumped by Johan Fourie (BMW GTC) in turn two. Wolk spun and was hit hard by a GTC2 competitor who was trying to avoid the incident. The damage forced Wolk’s instant retirement.

For Bonafede, his race was virtually over as soon as it began: on the opening lap, he was hit by Daniel Rowe (VW Jetta) in turn seven, spinning the championship leader to the back of the field. Bonafede suffered gearbox selection problems after the incident and ended fifth at the flag.

The Sasol GTC Racing Team worked hard to repair both of their cars for race two, where Wolk was again on pole position on the inverted grid. He duly took the lead and built a slender lead over the chasing pack but was caught by Stephen. While lapping the GTC2 field, Wolk was knocked out of the race by one of the smaller cars.

Bonafede was plagued by gear selection issues and circulated at the rear of the pack but was forced to retire five laps from home with no drive to the wheels.

“It was not the return we were looking for or expecting”, said Team Manager, Vic Maharaj. “I am extremely disappointed by the driving standards amongst some of the GTC drivers who should know better. Through no fault of the team, we had a disappointing day and lost the championship lead. We will regroup, rebuild and come out fighting over the remainder of the season”.

“I was too cautious in qualifying even though it was very close”, said Bonafede. “I lost a place as the field bunched into turn one in race one. Coming out of turn six, I left enough room for Daniel (Rowe), but he moved across on me and took me out. I spun and over the rough stuff, the gearbox suffered some form of damage. I had gear selection problems for the rest of the race. The team worked hard to get my car race-ready for race two: however I lined up knowing I might have transmission issues. I had to blip the throttle on every gear change, but three laps from home I had to pull off the track with no drive”.

Wolk was delighted with his pole position: “I knew I had the pace and as soon as I bolted new tyres on, my car was perfect. In race one, I had overheating brakes so Michael and Simon caught and passed me. Hodges also got by. On lap 12, Fourie hit me going into turn two and spun.

Keagan Masters tried to avoid me but chose the wrong path and hit my car quite hard which broke the suspension. In race two, I pulled away from the pack but had traction issues. As I was lapping the GTC2 cars, Liebenberg tried a move on Mdakane and hit my car which spelt instant retirement. It has been a disappointing day after our initial pace”.

The Sasol GTC Racing Team has four weeks to repair their BMW GTC cars and head south to Killarney Raceway in Cape Town for round seven of the Sasol GTC Championship.

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