Audi Sasolracing Press Release
Audi Sasolracing’s Gennaro Bonafede and Hennie Groenewald bounced back into contention at the Free State’s Phakisa circuit, scene of round five of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship.
Gennaro cemented his third place in the title chase with another third place on the day, while Hennie had a fantastic feature race, his most competitive outing since the season opener at Zwartkops, until sidelined by new car gremlins.
The Sasolracing team achieved its objective of being the fastest Audi team in the series.
Practice and Qualifying:
Hennie had a brand new Audi S4 quattro for Phakisa following his East London accident last month and set about sorting the handling to his liking. Gennaro was happy with his car, setting the timesheets alight and ending the session as the fastest Audi driver on the grid.
The two Sasolracing Audis slotted into third and fourth, Gennaro giving his all to get past Gavin Cronje’s BMW on the tighter infield section of the track. Hennie ran his teammate close, having a look inside the #32 Audi on a few occasions. Ultimately, the pair finished 3rd and 4th after a typically fierce race.
Hennie started from pole position which is situated on the dirty side of the track at Phakisa. Armed with a brand new set of Bridgestone rubber, he was mindful of the need to keep Simon Moss (Audi) from having a run up the inside into the first corner.
In a perfectly timed movement, Hennie led the field into the first corner and steadily built up a 4.8 second lead by lap nine of the 12 lap race. Moss kept the BMWs behind him which helped Hennie in his quest. Just as Johan Fourie (BMW) got past Moss, who spun, Hennie started to suffer an intermittent fuel feed problem which allowed both Fourie and Cronje (BMW) as well as Michael Stephen (Audi) to sweep past.
Hennie circulated to the finish in 6th place, having earlier set the fastest lap which earns a bonus point.
Gennaro had an exciting race! A good start saw him launch an attack on Cronje (BMW) who got sideways on cold tyres into the first turn. Gennaro had to take avoiding action and found himself on the dusty outside line of the circuit. Trying to squeeze back into the pack, he ran three abreast in Turn 3 and was effectively pushed off the track. He caught Michael Stephen quite easily but couldn’t get past as the laps counted down, finishing an eventual 4th.
From the cockpit:
Vic Maharaj, Team Manager: “It’s clear to see that our pace is there. Our aim was to be the fastest Audi team and we achieved that. We didn’t have time to test beforehand so we came here blind. Our strategy was to give Hennie new tyres for the feature race so he could go out and do two or three qualifying laps and build a lead which worked well. The fuel feed problem can be caused by a number of issues which we will identify back at the workshop.
Gennaro drove well all weekend. We have a very good base to work from going into the Sasol Race Day at the end of the month”.
#32 Gennaro Bonafede: “My car has been fantastic all weekend. I pushed Gavin hard in race one but lacked the last tenth of a second to make a move stick. Race two was hairy running through turns two and three, three abreast. I was squeezed off the road and although I made my way back up the field, I couldn’t get past Michael”
#8 Hennie Groenewald: “I spent all the practice sessions sorting out my new car. In qualifying I still had a handling issue which carried through into the first race. We made a few changes for race two. My plan to keep Simon behind me worked well and I pulled out a good lead. On lap 9 I had an intermittent misfire which I thought was electrical. It was great to race at the front again”.
Team Principal Carel Pienaar: “There is one constant in life. Luck changes”.
The next outing for the Audi Sasolracing Team is the Sasol Raceday at Zwartkops raceway outside Pretoria on 30 August.