Sasol GTC Racing Team hampered by weather at Port Elizabeth races

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – The Eastern Cape weather wreaked havoc at the fifth round of the Sasol GTC Championship in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. On-track incidents affected the results for the Sasol GTC Racing Team more than others, leaving Gennaro Bonafede and Robert Wolk further down the finishing order than the team expected.

Friday’s free practice on the newly resurfaced Aldo Scribante Raceway was held in wet conditions, leaving the team with a huge workload as they adapted their BMW GTC racing cars to suit the conditions.

During qualifying on a dry track, Bonafede lost time under braking and ended in sixth place, 0.6 seconds off pole position.  Wolk fought a lack of front end grip and ended seventh on the starting grid.

Bonafede made a great start to take third place and was embroiled in a race with Johan Fourie (BMW). Fourie passed Bonafede, only for his rival to retake the position. Racing into the final corner, Bonafede slotted his BMW up the inside line, only to find a complete lack of grip off the racing line and he spun out, dropping to the back of the field. He fought his way to fifth place by the end of the race.

Wolk struggled all race long with acute understeer and circulated near the back of the field, intent on a front row starting position for the second race. He ended sixth.

Race two kept the large crowd entertained with racing action all through the field. Wolk was in third place when he was hit by Mathew Hodges (VW Jetta) which spun the #41 BMW around and dropped him to the rear of the field. Wolk quickly passed several competitors while keeping Michael Stephen (Audi) at bay. 

Bonafede made a good start in race two, slotting in third place. He raced hard until Simon Moss (Audi) pushed the Sasol BMW driver onto the grass. Two laps later he passed Michael van Rooyen into turn two, with his rival replying by tapping him into a spin, which dropped the championship leader into last place.

Team Manager Vic Maharaj said: “We were never able to show our true pace with all the on-track incidents. We had a lack of running with every practice session offering different conditions so our weekend was one of damage control. The championship remains our goal and we are well placed with half the season still to run.”

Bonafede was disappointed with his day’s work: “It was a horrendous weekend.  We had no dry running on Friday so I never found a decent set-up. I expected to be best of the rest behind the Audis and I was third in both races until I made a mistake in the first race and got pushed off twice in the second race.”

Wolk was equally disappointed: “I struggled with handling in qualifying which left me on the back foot. I had terminal understeer and ended seventh. The problem persisted in the first race so I circulated and stayed out of trouble.  In the second race I was in third place when Hodges tapped me going in to turn one. I tried to hold the slide but spun. I had a great race with Michael (Stephen) in the closing stages and held him off to pick up a few points.”

The Sasol GTC Racing Team will be in action at the Sasol Race Day at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on 18th August.

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