Sunday, March 2, 2014

BPCC: Sensational start to Audi Sasolracing's season

Sasolracing Press Release



  •        Gennaro Bonafede 1st overall. Hennie Groenewald 3rd overall
  •        Qualified 1st and 2nd
  •        Race 1: 1st and 2nd
  •        Race 2: 2nd and 3rd
  •        Two fastest laps
  •        Championship standing: 1st and 3rd

The Sasolracing Circuit Team enjoyed their most successful outing in the Production Car championship since inception, with both racers never out of the top three after qualifying their Audi S4 quattros in first and second place, separated by five hundredths of a second around the 2.4km long Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria.

Hennie Groenewald and teammate Gennaro Bonafede followed-up their super-charged qualifying performance by dominating the first race, circulating nose-to-tail throughout the ten lap sprint race, the experienced multiple racing champion Groenewald ahead by under a second as the flag fell. 

Hennie Groenewald: “I drove seven laps at ten tenths, inch perfect.  The Audi handled as if on rails. I knew Gennaro was right behind me and he had the rest of the pack snapping at his heels.  As we caught slower traffic, I eased out a small gap.  It’s a perfect start for the 2014 Sasolracing campaign”.

Gennaro Bonafede: “There was some pushing and shoving as the pack headed through the first corners.  I got tapped from behind and had a bit of a moment.  After that, I pushed very hard for three laps before consolidating my position”.

Race 2, a longer 17 lap sprint with double-points on offer, started with an inverted grid that saw Groenewald and Bonafede start in 6th and 5th places respectively under leaden grey skies with rain falling.

Groenewald rocketed through the slithering pack into second place by Turn 2 before the race was red-flagged due to an accident.  The track got wetter during the 15 minute delay which didn’t stop Groenewald and Bonafede making another demon start, passing both BMWs by Turn 2. As their rivals scrabbled for grip, Bonafede and Groenewald moved up in to 2nd and 3rd places behind the Audi of the current champion Michael Stephen.

Bonafede continued to push hard, slowly reeling in the race leader but was held up in traffic in the treacherous conditions, edging ever closer to cross the line two car-lengths behind the winner.

Groenewald had a huge off-track moment but held his nerve to recover the car without losing a position and crossed the line 4 seconds behind Bonafede.

Gennaro Bonafede: “It was difficult to catch Michael (Stephen) in the rain.  I was stuck in traffic halfway through the race so he pulled a bit of a gap.  I kept the pressure on him and closed right up but ran out of race distance.  Conditions were treacherous and I didn’t want to throw it all away.

I’m over the moon to give Sasol an overall win on my first outing with the team and lead the championship”

Hennie Groenewald: “When I slipped into 2nd place, I thought this looked good, but it didn’t last long as the race was stopped after a car rolled.  On the re-start, I moved straight into 4th place behind Gennaro who started ahead of me on the inverted grid.  Simon Moss went off so the Sasolracing team was second and third.  I had a big off at Turn 1 but held the car, trying different lines through the corners to find some extra grip.

I am very impressed with the team and I’ve settled in well.  They have amazing attention to detail are very focused”.

Team Manager, Vic Maharaj: “The team has integrated exceptionally well and performed like a well-oiled machine.  A strong start to the season is exactly what we needed but there is still a long way to go so we have to keep our focus on the job at hand”.

The next outing for the Audi Sasolracing Team is at the Killarney Circuit in Cape Town on March 29.

Photo credit: David Ledbitter