Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series – Round 8 - Zwartkops
Race Report by Greg Reilly
Photography by Racepics.co.za
The Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series held their final race event of the 2014 season at the popular Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday 29 November. With the Overall and individual class championships all still up for grabs, sparks were expected to fly.
Lee Thompson (E82 135i) upset the establishment when he convincingly took pole position with an astounding time of 1:02.859. Sav Gaultieri (F30 335i) had to settle for second with Kris Budnik (E46 M3 GT) taking third. Manny Ribeiro (E36 325i Turbo) would line up on the front row in class B with Lee Jones (E39 M5) taking pole in class C. Once again Johan Dreyer (E46 330i) set the pace in class D.
The first race got off to a roaring start with the twenty five car field jostling for position through the first two corners. Thompson emerged through turn three in the lead with Gaultieri, Budnik, Gianni Giannoccaro (E46 M3 CSL GTR) and invitational driver Graeme Nathan (VW Golf 6 GTI) in tow. Budnik’s race came to a sudden end through turn four when the prop shaft on his car broke however.
Gianni Giannoccaro’s newly liveried car took him to the 2014 class A Championship…
Ribeiro led the class B field with team mate Jonathan Araujo (E36 328i Turbo) and the rest of the pack in hot pursuit. Ribeiro was on a charge and soon shot past the experienced Nathan on the second lap to grab fourth position behind the leading trio. Jones was showing the class C field the way around the circuit with Justin Robertson (E36 328i) and Daniel Koekemoer (E36 M3 GTR) watching his every move. The class D battle once again saw Dreyer and Mike Salt (E36 323i) fighting it out for honours.
Araujo followed in his team mate’s footsteps and relegated Nathan to sixth position on lap six. The race was turned on its head moments later when Ribeiro retired with differential issues on his car. Race leader Thompson then retired a lap later with terminal engine problems.
When the chequered flag came out it was Gaultieri who took an easy win ahead of Giannoccaro to claim the Overall and class A honours. Araujo took an untroubled victory in class B with Jones taking a comfortable first position in class C. Dreyer was kept honest by Salt once again and had to work hard to take the class D honours.
Dreyer on his way to claiming the 2014 Overall and class D Championships…
Race 1 Results by class
1)Sav Gaultieri – Best lap: 1:03.875
2)Gianni Giannoccaro – Best lap: 1:07.288
3)Graeme Nathan – Best lap: 1:08.612
1)Jonathan Araujo – Best lap: 1:08.277
2)Desmond Bloem – Best lap: 1:08.379
3)Riaan Woest – Best lap: 1:09.998
1)Lee Jones – Best lap: 1:11.164
2)Justin Robertson – Best lap: 1:11.861
3)Dino Fameliaris – Best lap: 1:11.625
1)Johan Dreyer – Best lap: 1:15.352
2)Mike Salt – Best lap: 1:15.555
3)Arri van Heerden – Best lap: 1:15.418
The traditional inverted by class grid for race two set the tone for an exciting final race of the year. For the first time in BMW CCG Club Racing history a VW powered vehicle held pole position with Nathan at the wheel. Giannoccaro would line up alongside the 2014 Class T Bridgestone Production Car Champion in his newly livered BMW racer.
The usual rolling start saw the field fan out and jostle for position through the first few corners. Gaultieri used the power and speed of his car to take the lead down the back straight into turn four. Nathan slotted into second position ahead of Giannoccaro. A repaired Ribeiro was leading the class B pack with Araujo and Riaan Woest (E46 M3 GTR) in tow. Robertson grabbed the class C lead ahead of Desmond Bloem (E36 325i Turbo) and the rest of the chasing pack, while series newcomer Ronnie Koekemoer (E46 M3) found himself at the front of the class D field. Budnik was driving like a man possessed as he scythed his way through the field from the back of the grid. He was up to eighth position by lap two before electrical issues caused him to retire to the pits.
Nathan proved to be the wet weather specialist in his front wheel drive Golf 6…
Giannoccaro found a way past Nathan to snap up second position on the third lap, only to have Nathan return the favour a lap later with an impressive move around the outside of turn three. Class C front runner Jones then retired to the pits with suspected brake failure.
The race was thrown completely on its head when the heavens opened three laps from the end. The circuit became water logged within minutes and traction for the competitors had changed drastically. Wet weather talent and experience would now come to the fore.
Gaultieri could no longer get the power down and the rest of the rear wheel drive cars had similar problems. Nathan in the front wheel drive VW Golf now started closing in on the race leaders and took the lead through turn three on the penultimate lap of the race, only to run wide through the very next corner. He recovered quickly and set about opening up a gap on the rest of the field. The monsoon like conditions had everyone slipping and sliding through the corners.
With conditions well and truly in his favour Nathan took the Overall and class A victory ahead of Giannoccaro with Gaultieri slipping back to third. Ribeiro held on for a narrow victory ahead of his team mate Araujo in class B, with Robertson showing his skill in the wet to take the class C honours ahead of young Julian Fameliaris (E36 328i). Dreyer romped home to victory in the wet conditions to claim the class D honours.
Gaultieri found the worsening conditions rather tricky…
Race 2 Results by class
1)Graeme Nathan – Best lap: 1:09.041
2)Gianni Giannoccaro – Best lap: 1:08.356
3)Sav Gaultieri – Best lap: 1:05.622
1)Manny Ribeiro – Best lap: 1:08.792
2)Jonathan Araujo – Best lap: 1:09.829
3)Riaan Woest – Best lap: 1:10.899
1)Justin Robertson – Best lap: 1:12.453
2)Julian Fameliaris– Best lap: 1:12.156
3)Dino Fameliaris – Best lap: 1:12.558
1)Johan Dreyer – Best lap: 1:15.737
2)Mike Salt – Best Lap: 1:16.384
3)Bruce Turner – Best lap: 1:16.342
Johan Dreyer’s victory in the final race of the year saw him claim not only the hard fought class D title but the Overall BMW CCG Club Racing Series title as well – and this in only his first season of racing in this very competitive series!
Gianni Giannoccaro took the 2014 class A title by a narrow 3 point margin. Manny Ribeiro took the 2014 class B honours by an equally small margin. Justin Robertson’s consistency throughout the season saw him rack up a comfortable 16 point gap over his nearest rival to comfortably take the 2014 class C title.
2014 BMW CCG Club Racing Series Class Championship
1)Gianni Giannoccaro – 57 points
2)Sav Gaultieri – 54 points
3)Kris Budnik – 52
1)Manny Ribeiro – 95 points
2)Carlo Garbini – 92 points
3)Ricky Giannoccaro – 62 points
1)Justin Robertson – 102 points
2)Dino Fameliaris – 86 points
3)Julian Fameliaris – 83 points
1)Johan Dreyer – 107 points
2)Mike Salt – 98 points
3)Bruce Turner – 70 points
Despite mechanical issues, Ribeiro came back to claim the 2014 class B Championship in race 2…
2014 Overall BMW CCG Club Racing Series Championship
1)Johan Dreyer – 107 points
2)Justin Robertson – 102 points
3)Mike Salt – 98 points
4)Manny Ribeiro – 95 points
5)Carlo Garbini – 92 points
6)Dino Fameliaris – 86 points
Robertson battled his way to the line to claim the 2014 Class C title and second overall…
The 2014 racing season has been the closest one yet in all the years that this popular series has been running, and the 2015 season promises to bring even more excitement going forward. New rules and a new class for more standard entry level cars will no doubt see this successful series continue to grow from strength to strength.