Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BPCC: Hennie Groenewald flies to victory at Sasol Race Day‏

Audi Sasolracing Press Release

Audi Sasolracing delivered a top-class performance at the Sasol Race Day, round 6 of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship at Zwartkops Raceway where Hennie Groenewald delivered a dominant victory in the feature race and Gennaro Bonafede continued to rack up points with his fifth podium of the season and retain third place in the overall championship standings.

Practice and Qualifying:

Audi Sasolracing conducted a successful test session at the track in the run-up to the event and was confident of a competitive outing. The entire class A grid was covered by 0.2 second during free practice sessions on Friday.

Come qualifying, Hennie made a small mistake on his fastest lap which dropped him from pole position to 4th on the grid. Gennaro was happy with the set-up of his car and planted the Sasolracing S4 quattro on the front row of the grid just 0.059 second off pole position.

Race 1:

Current champion Michael Stephen (Audi) got a jump on the front row of the grid to take the lead, while Gennaro settled in behind Gavin Cronje’s BMW. Cronje slowed before each corner, forcing Gennaro to slow, a tactic that negated the Audi’s quattro advantage.

Inevitably, Gennaro made contact with Cronje and the Sasolracing Audi suffered a damaged air intake, effectively robbing the engine of air, and thus power, leaving Gennaro to trail the field in 5th place.

Hennie had a solid race making up places as Gennaro and Cronje tangled. Running second on the road, he caught an ailing competitor, who moved aside to allow the Sasol racer to pass unhindered. Marshals had yellow flags displayed, which means no overtaking. Hennie was later penalized 30 seconds after the race which dropped him to 6th place.

Race 2:

Starting from pole position for the longer, double-points scoring feature race, and with a fresh set of Bridgestone rubber bolted to the Sasolracing Audi, Hennie defended his position off the line to open up a commanding lead and control the pace from the front.

In the closing laps, Hennie eased his pace to take his first victory since the opening round in March.

Gennaro’s race was much livelier. From 4th on the grid, he swiftly moved into 3rd place before Michael Stephen made a lunge down the inside going into the last turn. Predictably, Stephen rammed Gennaro who went into a lurid spin which the youngster held and recovered. Although he lost a place he fought back to end third at the flag.

From the pitwall:

Vic Maharaj, Team Manager: “Qualifying produced the closest grid I can remember. Gennaro was the wrong side of the hundreth of a second to take pole! Both cars had good pace throughout the weekend.

Hennie’s yellow flag penalty is ludicrous. Common sense should have prevailed. The officials’ decision cost us first place overall. Our strategy for race two worked perfectly and Hennie drove a great race.

This is my first Sasol Race Day. Sasol has raised the bar in terms of marketing activity for motor racing. It’s where circuit racing around the country should be”.

Hennie Groenewald #8: “The team gave me a superb car. I made a small mistake on my fastest lap in qualifying which cost me pole position. Gennaro and I were both stuck behind Cronje which allowed Michael (Stephen) to pull away. I got into 2nd place when Gennaro and Gavin tangled. The yellow flag incident is silly. What was I supposed to do? I wasn’t racing for position when I passed a slowing car.

Race two was great. The new tyres are worth half a second a lap over the opening laps. I positioned my car very carefully through the first few corners because I was worried Gavin would slip past.

The car was superb all weekend and I’m delighted to thank and reward Sasol for their support by winning at the Sasol Race Day”

Gennaro Bonafede #32: “Practice and qualifying was amazingly close – the top five in class A were separated by just 0.15 second. I knew if the BMW got ahead into turn 1 I would be in trouble. Gavin is a wily old fox and he slowed before each corner which negated my car’s quattro advantage. On lap 6, I bumped Gavin and damaged the air intake which starved the car of air and I dropped to 5th.

I made a good start in race 2 and got into 3rd place when Michael pulled a kamikaze move on me. He was off the track and knocked me sideways and just kept pushing me. I managed to recover the car from a very sideways moment and finish third again.

The Sasol Race Day has been phenomenal. Sasol, as a brand is incredible. I’ve done four or five interviews today”.

The next outing for the Audi Sasolracing team is at Killarney in Cape Town on 27 September.