Saturday, November 2, 2013

BPCC: Audi S4 podiums and Michael Stephen crowned as champion during races one and two at Kyalami

By Johan Laubscher

The South African Bridgestone Production Cars are at Kyalami for the ninth and final round of the season. The first two races were held this afternoon with great success for the Audi squad.

Melvill Priest had taken pole position for the first race in his VMP Motorsport Audi S4. He was followed by two BMWs and a Subaru. The remaining three Audi S4 drivers lined up in positions five through seven, with Gennaro Bonafede ahead of Tschops Sipuka and Michael Stephen, the current championship leader. Stephen lined up last within Class A, as he had brake issues during qualifying and did not set a time. However, both Bonafede and Sipuka were penalised for a breach in Parc Ferme regulations and they were dropped to the back of Class A.

The first race got underway with Melvill Priest leading from the front. He was closely perused and passed by Johan Fourie in his BMW, the eventual race one winner. He was followed across the line by Hennie Groenewald’s Subaru and Melvill Priest in the first of the Audis. Gennaro Bonafede finished fourth. Sipuka had gone into the pits before the race ended. Michael Stephan had been running well, but he suffered radiator damage when he touched the Subaru from behind and he then circulated slowly at the back of the field to collect points.

The teams had a short break to prepare the cars before the second race. Bonafede lined up second ahead of Priest in third. Michael Stephen had switched to Sipuka’s Audi S4 and lined up in sixth place. Stephen was supposed to start from pole, thanks to the reverse grid, but he was moved to the rear of the Class A due to the car-swap.

Race two saw Etienne van der Linde leading from the front with his BMW. Behind him there was a tremendous battle for second position. Bonafede dropped back from the fight for second due to technical issues, whilst Melvill Priest was battling hard with Hennie Groenewald for second. The race concluded with a victory for van der Linde in his BMW, ahead of Michael Stephen in third and Melvill Priest in fourth. Bonafede finished sixth. Sipuka had joined the tail of the field in Stephen's repaired S4 during the first lap of race two and he was classified in seventh by the finish.

These results were enough to crown Michael Stephen as the 2013 Class A champion, his third consecutive title.

The third race will be taking place later in the afternoon. We wish the best of luck to the Audi teams and drivers.