Gennaro Bonafede bounces back at Killarney

Cape Town, South Africa – Gennaro Bonafede gave the Sasol GTC Racing Team reason to celebrate when the Sasol GTC Championship returned to Killarney Raceway in Cape Town for round seven of the touring car series.

When the clocks were running for Friday’s all-important qualifying session, the #32 BMW GTC racing car stopped the clocks with a pole-winning time that was 0.036 seconds faster than Michael Stephen, the championship leader.  Robert Wolk in the #41 BMW GTC racing car was third fastest, 0.194 seconds adrift and 0.001 seconds ahead of Simon Moss’s Audi.

The first ten lap race saw Bonafede streak into the lead, setting the race’s fastest lap in the process and a fraction of a second faster than the Audi driver, Michael Stephen. Although Stephen applied pressure in the latter stages of the race, Bonafede kept a cool head and banked a well-deserved 53 points after taking the chequered flag.

Wolk raced hard in third place, keeping the rest of the field at bay. By mid-race, he started to suffer rear traction issues which allowed Daniel Rowe (VW Jetta) to get past.  On the final corner of the final lap, Rowe ran wide and Wolk dived down the inside line. Rowe speared back towards the apex and clipped the front left corner of the BMW which spun Rowe around into Wolk’s path. The inevitable crash left Wolk limping across the line with steam pouring from a damaged radiator, but a fourth place was secure.

The Sasol GTC team technicians showcased their work ethic to get Wolk’s car repaired for race two, which they achieved with time to spare.

The Sasol GTC championship features an inverted grid for race two, with Bonafede lined up at the back of the grid and Wolk in fifth spot.

Bonafede picked off his rival one by one, shadowing Stephen’s every move as the pair sliced their way through the pack. By lap ten, Bonafede closed right up onto the Audi’s tail as they raced through the backmarkers. Although Bonafede tried one move to gain the lead, he wisely decided the risk was too great and reeled off the remaining laps, again setting the fastest race lap to earn another three bonus points.

Wolk gained a place by turn two, but ran wide to avoid contact with a rival. The handling of his BMW had been affected by his race one accident and he was never comfortable in the car. His luck worsened when he picked up a piece of debris which jammed under the front of his car, blocking a brake duct and the radiator.  With his brakes and engine overheating, Wolk was forced to retire his BMW GTC racing car.

“I was really pleased to be on pole as it gave the whole team a confidence boost after our last event. I put my head down over the first few laps and opened a reasonable gap, but by mid race I had a little bit of a tyre wear issue. Michael put me under a great deal of pressure, but I held him off and never made a single mistake”, said a delighted Bonafede from the top step of the podium.  “In race two I had a great time picking the guys off one at a time.  It was great fun and clean racing. I closed on Michael but a passing attempt would have been too risky”.

Wolk was disappointed with how his day turned out after a strong qualifying session: “The car felt great over the first six laps but then the rear tyres started to go off after lap six and Rowe got past me.  On the last lap he went wide so I took the inside line, but he just cut back onto the track right in front of me and we tangled. I was lucky to salvage fourth place. In race two, the handling wasn’t as good as it had been. The engine started to overheat and I could smell the brakes so the team brought me in”.

Team manager, Vic Maharaj was happy with his team’s performance. “It was a near perfect weekend for Gennaro. Pole position, a race win, a second place and both fastest race laps left him with the most points scored on the day. We went with an aggressive set-up for the first race which worked to a point.  We made changes for the second race to allow the car to remain competitive all the way through and that worked well.

Gennaro also set the fastest ever GTC lap time around Killarney, so we have a lot of positives to take into the last two rounds”.

With two rounds of the Sasol GTC Championship remaining, the team will be hard at work as they challenge for the title. The penultimate round of the series is at Kyalami on 4th November.