Bonafede extends championship lead after Zwartkops races

Pretoria, South Africa - Gennaro Bonafede extended his lead of the Sasol GTC Championship after powering his Sasol GTC racing car to a first and third place positions in the two races held at Zwartkops Raceway on Friday.

Bonafede bagged 11 bonus points for qualifying in pole position and setting both race fastest laps, a handy boost as the season nears the halfway mark.

Robert Wolk, in the second Sasol GTC Racing Team entry, slotted his BMW GTC into third on the grid, his best qualifying performance to date.  He raced to fourth in the first 17-lap race, but was an innocent victim in a first-lap incident that put him out of race two.

Thursday’s three free practice sessions saw both Bonafede and Wolk using the track time to set their cars up for Friday’s early morning qualifying session, held in cool conditions. Bonafede’s time was 0.4 seconds ahead of Mathew Hodges (VW Jetta GTC), while the next four competitors were separated by just 0.21 seconds, leaving Wolk only 0.04 seconds off the front row.

Bonafede converted his pole position into the race lead where he set three very fast laps, opening a lead over the chasing pack.  Thereafter, he eased off the power to manage his tyre wear and engine temperature, taking the chequered flag 1.9 seconds clear of Michael Stephen (Audi GTC).

Wolk, from third on the grid, initially held his position but soon got  involved in an intense bumper-to-bumper battle with Stephen and Hodges, who boxed Wolk in which dropped him behind the Audi driver, bringing his car home in fourth place.

The inverted grid saw Bonafede last in the GTC pack and Wolk in fifth place. On the opening lap Wolk was hit by Hodges in turn six, spinning the BMW off the track with a broken wheel.  The race was red-flagged to recover the stricken race car.  At the re-start, Bonafede picked his way through the pack before his progress was halted, stuck behind Daniel Rowe (VW Jetta GTC) for four laps, denying him a realistic chance to catch the leading pair. He crossed the line to take the final podium position and the 28 points that go with it.

Team Manager Vic Maharaj said: “It was nearly a perfect day.  Our cars had the pace all weekend. The technical support work by the Sasol technology team is continuously  delivering the results we want with Gennaro staging a  perfect  race one and Robert showing consistency. I told Gennaro to stay out of trouble in race two which he did, but Robbie was a victim of circumstances after a mindless challenge. We are looking forward to the next round”.

Championship leaderBonafede was very happy with his day’s work: “My qualifying session was one of my best yet.  I really got the car hooked up for a near-perfect lap. At the start of the first race, I set three super-fast qualifying laps to open a gap and thereafter I could focus on managing the car to the flag.  Race two was quite hectic. Once I got up to Daniel, he blocked me for four laps which left me without enough laps to catch Johan (Fourie) and Michael ”.

A downbeat Wolk said: “I was happy with my qualifying pace in spite of getting held up on my two fastest laps.  The first race was great until I got boxed in by Michael and Mathew and lost a position. I spent the rest of the race defending against Simon (Moss) but overall, I am happy with my race. In race two, Mathew hit my car’s right rear at turn six. The impact broke a wheel and my race was run. It was a disappointing end to what promised to be a strong race”.

The Sasol GTC Racing Team travels to Port Elizabeth for round five of the Sasol GTC Championship on 15th July.

Follow us on Twitter using #SasolGTC for the latest Sasol GTC Championship news or visit www.sasolmotorsport.co.za to access the 2017 racing calendar.

Race one results:

Gennaro Bonafede

Sasol BMW GTC

18m32.794

Michael Stephen

Engen Audi GTC

18m34.711

Mathew Hodges

Volkswagen Jetta GTC

18m40.379

Robert Wolk

Sasol BMW GTC

18m44.453

Simon Moss

Engen Audi GTC

18m45.183

Daniel Rowe

Volkswagen Jetta GTC

18m47.538

Johan Fourie

EPS BMW GTC

19m15.748

Michael van Rooyen

RSC BMW GTC

-5 laps

 

 

Race two results:

Michael Stephen

Engen Audi GTC

16m33.736

Johan Fourie

EPS BMW GTC

16m34.980

Gennaro Boanfede

Sasol BMW GTC

16m38.171

Mathew Hodges

Volkswagen Jetta GTC

16m39.668

Simon Moss

Engen Audi GTC

16m50.598

Daniel Rowe

Volkswagen Jetta GTC

16m36.180

Michael van Rooyen

RSC BMW GTC

-5 laps

Robert Wolk

Sasol BMW GTC

DNF