Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bonafede’s accelerated learning curve - Audi S4

Gennaro Bonafede Press Release

Rising star Gennaro Bonafede’s learning curve in class A of the ultra competitive Bridgestone Production Car championship continued at Cape Town’s picturesque Killarney circuit.

Having started the year racing in class T in the Ferodo liveried Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI, the initial plan was to move up to class A in 2013. When the ex Johan Fourie Audi S4 was acquired in August the team was encouraged by testing but also realised how different the two cars were. After careful consideration, Bonafede and race engineer Vic Maharaj decided there was nothing to lose by abandoning his championship hopes in favour of class A. The fact that Melvill Priest’s Audi is also prepared by the VMP team made the decision a bit easier.

“The cars require such different driving techniques and testing the Audi between racing the Golf would not have achieved the desired results. We gave it a lot of thought, but in the end realised the only way forward was to concentrate on the Audi. It’s a pity as I was winning races in the Golf, but I’m sure it was the right decision,” said the lanky Bonafede who is an official Monster Energy athlete.

At Killarney an engine problem put paid to Friday’s practice so set-up for Saturday’s qualifying was pretty much a guess and he was only ninth fastest. Nevertheless his confidence for the opening race was high, but as cars assembled on the grid, the heavens opened.

Bonafede rose to the occasion with a mature performance that belied his age and came home fourth. “Considering we only had 5 laps of practice on the Friday in a new car around that circuit. The fact that we were right at the front and in the mix in the rain is a big positive for me, I felt I could've challenged the Audi's in front of me but didn't want to risk being ‘that guy who took out the championship leader’; that would not have been cool.”

In race two he was holding third place when an unusual problem reared its head. The 22-year old has size 12 feet and under braking for turn 1 on lap six he managed to press both brake and accelerator at the same time and he slithered off into the wall and dropped to eighth. “It was completely my fault… Under pressure I made a crucial mistake. The pedals are pretty close to each other and there’s little margin for error.  Vic Maharaj mentioned they definitely have to re-position the pedals before the next race.”

Race three was brief as he was caught up in opening lap pile-up at turn two. “From where I was it looked like Etienne Van der Linde went in too hot and collided with Tschops Sipuka. As I was behind Etienne, I didn't really have anywhere to go and with the speed I was coming in I had no chance of missing Tschops. It was unfortunate because I think our set-up would have resulted in good pace in that race,  possibly enough to secure a 3rd overall for the day. I will learn from all of this and take it as another step on the flight of stairs to the top.”

The final round of the Bridgestone Production Car championship takes place at the Wesbank Super Series event at Kyalami on 27th October.

Pic and Article by Steve Wicks