Gennaro Bonafede’s Killarney podium keeps title hopes alive

Cape Town, South Africa – The Sasol GTC Racing Team endured a character-building weekend at round eight of the Sasol GTC Championship held at Killarney on Saturday. Championship challenger Gennaro Bonafede raced his BMW GTC racing car to third place in the second race, after being bumped off the track in the first race while holding third place.

Robert Wolk was hampered by technical difficulties all weekend; a blown engine in free practice one saw Wolk sit out the rest of the day, only for a loose boost pipe to hamper his challenge in the first race and an engine detonation force retirement from the second race.

Bonafede’s weekend got off to a positive start through Friday’s three free practice sessions, which saw the #32 BMW well within reach of Michael Stephen (Audi). In official qualifying, he didn’t put a perfect lap together and so had to settle for fourth on the grid.

In the opening race, Bonafede was embroiled in an exciting five-way fight for the podium, with positions changing several times a lap, much to the delight of the large audience trackside. Three laps from home, Bonafede and Johan Fourie (BMW) raced side-by-side through turn four, only for Fourie to lock his brakes, tapping Bonafede into a spin which dropped the championship challenger down to seventh place at the chequered flag.

In the second race, Bonafede started from the front row of the inverted grid. He raced into the lead but was reeled in by firstly Simon Moss (Audi) and Stephen. Bonafede was passed by Fourie and a thrilling race ensued with Bonafede getting ahead before the flag fell to claim a welcome podium place and take the championship fight into the final round.

“It’s been a tough day at the office”, Team Manager Vic Maharaj reflected. “Motorsport is very up and down. We dominated at Kyalami and came to Cape Town with high hopes, only to be dealt a body blow. The drivers did the best they could on the day and we’ll be chasing to the very last lap of the season at Zwartkops.”

Bonafede was philosophical about his weekend. “We had good pace in Friday’s practice. I thought we were in with a real chance but I didn’t put a decent lap together in qualifying. The first race was intense: we were all over the place, passing and re-passing each other. With two laps from the end, Johan dived up my inside but locked his brakes which unsettled his car enough to drift slightly wide and tap me into a spin. It wasn’t malicious, just hard racing. In the second race, I had a decent lead but the Audis kept coming. Third place isn’t too bad”.

Wolk said of his grim weekend: “The engine let go on my warm-up lap in the first practice session. The team rebuilt the engine in the pits. I’m really grateful for the effort they put in to get me on track for qualifying. With no set-up time, I qualified at the back. In the first race, a boost pipe came off which left me trailing at the back. In the second race, I started from pole position but felt the engine tighten. Before I could react, it detonated.”

The final outing for the Sasol GTC Racing Team is at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on 20th October.

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