In an exciting and eventful start to the third season, Gennaro Bonafede got his 2018 Sasol GTC Championship off to an impressive start at Kyalami International Grand Prix Circuit when he banked pole position, took a commanding victory in the first race and claimed second place in the second race. In addition, he set the fastest lap in both races.
Bonafede’s lead over Michael Stephen (Audi GTC) was 5.9 seconds which is a substantial margin given the ultra close racing witnessed in the Sasol GTC Championship. In race two, from an inverted grid, Bonafede worked his way from the back of the GTC pack, slicing his BMW GTC through the traffic – aided by rivals’ accidents –and took the lead with five laps remaining.
On the penultimate lap, Bonafede experienced a sudden loss of power and parked his BMW at the side of the track on the final lap with technical default issues; having completed more than 75% 0f the race distance, he was classified second in the race.
Robert Wolk’s weekend got off to a positive start, slotting his Sasol GTC racing car onto the front row of the grid, just 0.288 seconds off his teammate’s time. He raced in a comfortable second position in the opening race before yielding to Mathew Hodges’ relentless attack.
On lap seven, Wolk experienced a suspension component breakage which pitched him off the track at the bottom of the Mineshaft, the car spearing straight off the circuit and into the barrier, Wolk fortunately stepped out of the car unscathed. The car, with significant front end damage, was retired for the day.
Bonafede was delighted with his performance: “I really enjoyed qualifying with the increased power. I made a great start in race one and put in three qualifying-style laps to open a decent margin to the others; thereafter I simply managed the gap to Mathew (VW Jetta). I made setup changes for race two as I was a little concerned about the tyres lasting for the longer race. I made a great start and passed a couple of guys off the line then pressured Fourie (BMW GTC) and took the lead.”
“On the second last lap the car suddenly lost power and I was forced to park on the side of the track within sight of the chequered flag”, Bonafede continued. “My second place was a little lucky. The car was perfect all weekend. It cornered on rails, the kind of handling that racing drivers dream about.”
Wolk said of his weekend: “Qualifying went really well and I set a decent lap time. I was running in second place but Hodges closed in relentlessly and passed me. On lap seven a tie-rod broke and I went into the barriers, probably at something like 195km/h. It was a big impact; the car is very well built and I walked away without a scratch”.
Team Manager Vic Maharaj said: “We worked hard during off-season and covered over 1000km of testing and reaped the rewards for our effort. The drivers both found a decent setup and did what they do best. In the first race Gennaro drove a faultless race. He was concerned about tyre wear so we made a few changes before race two. He made some great overtaking moves on the competition before his forced retirement. The cause of Robbie’s accident can only be analysed once we get the car stripped down back at the workshop. We’ll be back stronger and more determined than ever for our next race in Cape Town.”