Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Audi fans say goodbye to a legendary team: Johan Fourie Racing

By Johan Laubscher

For many in South Africa the Bridgestone Production Cars is seen as the top category of racing in the country. In recent years many of the country’s top teams and drivers have battled for this prestigious crown. One of the most successful teams in this series is Johan Fourie Racing with their Audi race cars. Today the sad news has arrived that the team will be closing its doors. The news comes after a very difficult season for the team who suffered set back after set back, through no fault of their own. The news is a shock to both Audi fans and fans of the sport. This team and their fighting spirit will be missed by everyone.

The team came from various other forms of South African motorsport which also included multiple Websank V8 championship titles. The team and their star driver, Johan Fourie joined the Production Cars ranks in 2006 with an Audi A4 3.2 quattro. The team used 2007 as a learning year and came back fighting in 2008 by winning the Class A title. Johan made it a back to back success as he stormed to the 2009 championship title as well. 2010 and onwards was to be a testing time for Johan Fourie Racing. With the introduction of new cars from the competitors during 2010, the old normally aspirated Audi A4 cars could not keep up with the new turbo charged BMW cars. 2010 was a white wash for the BMW team with Johan suffering many issues during the season. 2011 was headlined as the year that the Audi S4 B8 cars would debut in the series, to take the fight to the mighty BMW 335i cars.

The two Audi teams (JFR and Terry Moss Racing) worked flat out in order to prepare the cars for the season opener, but both teams missed the deadline. The old Audi A4 cars were used at the first round. Terry Moss Racing had their cars ready before JFR and they showed the pace of the new cars at the following rounds. Johan Fourie was stuck with his old car until the fourth round of the series. He did very well with the old car, but could not match the pace of all the new cars. At round four his new Audi S4 was ready and took a debut win in the endurance event.

Round five of the season and Fourie was on fire at Aldo Scribante. He scorched to three wins from four and rocketed himself back into the title hunt (see videos bellow). By the end of the season he was at the top of the log heading to the final round. Sadly luck deserted him at the finale as the title slipped though his fingers with various problems outside of his control. This was the beginning of the end for the team.

The team was focused on the 2012 season when they lost their main sponsor. Without the sponsor the team had to withdraw from the opening round of the championship. It was a very sad sight not to see the JFR Audi S4 at the event.

With sponsor talks continuing an agreement was reached and Johan Fourie was back for round two in Cape Town. Johan put on a massive showing for his home town fans as he took two victories on the day, proving he and the team deserve to be in Class A. Following the event his sponsor withdrew for a second time. With this occurrence JFR sourced another sponsor  and his Audi S4 was seen in plain white colour at the next event, after his previous long time sponsor’s orange colour had been removed.

The rest of the 2012 season was littered with bad luck for Johan Fourie. The two rounds that followed saw various retirements, including a weekend ending practice crash in Durban. The crash in Durban was in no way Johan Fourie’s fault. Another car crashed into the S4 as Johan was waiting for a clear moment to return to the track. The Audi S4 was heavily damaged and so was JFR’s season.

Just over a month later, a few days before round six of the series the sad news broke cover. Johan Fourie Racing would be closing its doors and Johan Fourie would be taking a sabbatical from Motorsport. Very sad news for Johan’s many fans, both in South Africa and internationally.

Johan Fourie Racing is one of the most successful South African teams, a team everyone has gotten use to seeing at every event, and at the front of those events. Not seeing this team and their truck in the paddock will be a hard fact to swallow.

The fans say thank you to JFR for many years of great racing, the team and its driver will be sorely missed.

Round 5 of the 2011 season saw Johan Fourie at his very best. He absolutely dominated the race weekend in his Audi S4. The race highlights from that round are included bellow. It is exactly this drive and pace from Johan Fourie Racing that we will all miss on future race days.







2011 Audi A4

2011 Audi S4


All images are hosted at motorpics.co.za