THE four Audi S4 quattro entries in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship produced a dominant start to the 2014 season, clearly stamping their authority on the Super Series right from the outset.
Race one on Saturday at Zwartkops Raceway saw the Audi Sasolracing entries of Hennie Groenewald (A8) and Gennaro Bonafede (A32) filling the top two spots on the starting grid. In third place it was defending champion Michael Stephen (A1) and in fifth Stephen's Engen Xtreme teammate, Simon Moss (A38).
This event was Groenewald's first outing in the Audi S4 quattro and for Moss it was his first race meeting in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship – as well as his first national race meeting in the Audi S4 quattro. Both showed good pace in qualifying with Groenewald proving the fastest car in the field.
The Audi Sasolracing entries made good use of their qualifying pace to claim first and second place in the first race of the season, with the Engen Xtreme Audi S4 quattros in fourth and fifth place across the line.
“I'm extremely satisfied,” says Groenewald. “You always want to prove yourself in the wet, but it doesn't always work out the way you want. The Audi S4 quattro is very satisfying to drive in terms of feel and grip, it really does what you want it to do. We set the pace this weekend and I'm satisfied with where we are as a team after this first round.”
“I'm very, very happy today,” says Bonafede. “Consistency has really paid off at this event and qualifying in second place, achieving second in race one and again in the feature race, this is a great way to start the season.”
With a reverse grid for race two – and wet weather setting in to make conditions interesting – it took no time at all for defending champion Stephen to show why he has claimed three consecutive titles in this series. A red flag just one lap into the 17 lap feature race saw the field assemble for a re-start and here Stephen wasted no time showing the other racers just how things are done in the wet.
By the time the chequered flag made an appearance, Stephen's lead was almost a second ahead of a hard-charging Bonafede. Groenewald put in a good performance to claim third spot and Moss rounded out the leading positions, ensuring a clean sweep for the Audi S4 quattro racers by finishing in fourth.
“Qualifying and race one didn't go quite according to plan,” says Stephen. “We didn't have quite the horsepower as our competition in the first race but the wet conditions of race two, for double points, was very different and being able to win in the wet put our championship on a good footing. It is a good start to what is going to be a very challenging season.”
Stephen's teammate, Moss, found himself right in the thick of the action from the outset of the race weekend and he proved himself up to the task ahead.
“From Saturday morning things have been working well, I even managed to be a bit quicker than Michael at one point,” says Moss. “I got a few things a bit wrong in the second race in the rain, but I finished both races today, have fourth overall in my first event and kept my pace close to that of Michael. I decided a fourth in race two was the better option, rather than taking a risk and pushing too hard.”
Moss' fourth place result also provided the Audi S4 quattro competitors with the top four spots overall for the day, with Bonafede taking an early lead in the championship. Between them, the first round of the season finishes with an Audi S4 quattro winning each of the races, two second places, a third place in race two, the top four spots overall for the day and the championship leader is also behind the wheel of an Audi S4 quattro.
Photo credit: MotorPress.co.za