The 2018 Bridgestone BMW Car Club Gauteng track day season kicked off with a bang at Phakisa on 9 and 10 March. A good 80% of the competitors came down on the Friday already to make use of the abundant track time available. More so, we think nobody wanted to miss the traditional Friday night pit braai which as always was a massive success.
The spirit and the camaraderie the club is always so famous for really seems to come alive at Phakisa, but we understand why. Every person that participates either as driver, crew, organiser or spectator goes there expecting a great weekend, and they are never let down. It proves yet again that if you do anything with the right attitude, it will always be fun and always be a success.
Our usual contingent of Time Trial drivers made their way down to Welkom - most being able to improve their times slightly. Phakisa as a technical circuit is one of the most challenging and rewarding, and at the same time fairly forgiving if you get it wrong where the most bravery is required in the last sector.
This was the first event where we went back to our original format of the race series hosting their rounds on the club days, and we are happy to say we made the right call to do this again. For an added twist this year, we invited the INEX Legends Championship along too. Through our involvement in the Inland Championship for the last two years, we have formed strong bonds with them as well as the Clubman’s Association - so they in effect are already a part of our family. They were exciting to watch as always, being famous for going into corners 4 abreast and swapping leaders on every lap! They all remarked how much fun it was to be a part of our event, and commended us on an event well organised and smoothly run.
Saturday morning BMW CCG race series qualifying saw a new man topping the timesheets in reigning Engen Polo Cup champion Devin Robertson (Big Boss Auto BMW E46 GTR). Julian Fameliaris (Afrivalve/Lube-Net - BMW E36 328i Turbo) set the second fastest time to secure the outside slot on the front row. After missing the opening round of the championship Dino Fameliaris (C-Tech/Afrivalve BMW E36 M3 Turbo) got his season underway by qualifying in the third position.
Robertson was able to make a clean start and kept the pack well at bay through the opening sequence of corners and bends to settle into a comfortable lead. This despite having to change a gearbox in the 45 minutes between qualifying and heat one.
The second race saw the customary inverted start-per-class on the grid. With Robertson being the sole Class A runner, this made his job even easier at the front while the rest of the pack sorted out their positions during the opening laps. The first lap saw Dino Fameliaris and Willie Erasmus also dropping back in the order with Alex Desogus (Alvic Engineering BMW E36 M3), Biagioni and Munro as early retirements.
The first group of drivers settled into a similar rhythm to what was seen in the first race. Robertson took another comfortable victory in the race and Class A, with Paulo and Rick Loureiro filling the other two podium positions and Paulo also taking the Class B win. Andreas Meier finished in the fourth position with Jan Eversteyn in fifth place. Following the opening lap, Erasmus sliced his way through the pack to finish in an impressive sixth position.
We also had both of our club race cars at the event - one that belongs to some of the committee members and the other the club’s new hot lap car. Manny and Sandbag jostled for fastest lap honours and both participated in the race heats, piloted by BMW Car Club Gauteng chairman, Colin van Son, and Michael Broom respectively. When all was said and done though, the E46 325i Touring recorded the quickest lap of the two, and higher overall position in both race heats. The best bit is the surprised faces after discovering it still has all its seats, door panels, electric windows and a towbar! Unfortunately though, not many were brave enough to step up for hot laps in either car.
Here’s some personal perspectives of the event from the viewpoint of different people who attended.
From the BMW Car Club Gauteng Committee:
There has always been a huge hype about the PHAKISA weekend. It was something I always contemplated, and finally the decision was taken. After a week of waiting and excitement the Thursday arrived with the packing of Regalia and making sure everything was ready including a spotless vehicle. The Thursday night the clouds opened and everything was drenched. We picked Craig Withers up at 05H30 and met at Bernard’s house at 06H00 for coffee and muffins followed by an initial “brisk” towing pace of 140 km/h set by Bernard which was calmed down to 110 km/h after we met up with Michael Broom , Mike Grobler and the Len-Henry Gobey team.
Phakisa welcomed us with great weather and the Regalia was laid out to dry like a massive laundry on the pit apron. The atmosphere was the best I have ever seen throughout the day, the evening braai the best, and a good rest was welcomed at the hotel. Like a 70‘s Le Mans we found the Wadeley Team had even slept over in the pits, woken by an early morning cappuccino at a cost of R 65-00 (long story).
The entire day’s racing was electric followed by a joyous prize giving and meal at the local eatery. Sadly, the next morningwe all headed home after an experience that will always be remembered and shared with others and our next generations.
From the Cockpit:
#76 - Devin Robertson - Big Boss Auto E46 M3 GTR - Winner Class A
It was a really good weekend as the car has not been raced for the last 5 years, but we have done a bit of testing before this race. We went out on Friday with old boots and car really seemed good, and we did 2 sessions for the day. Saturday we changed to new tyres on the car, and the car handled even better but broke fourth gear coming out of the Coke Bottle bowl. We however still got pole position for the race. Luckily we had brought a spare gearbox with but only had 40 minutes to change it. With the car and engine parts still hot we got it done. Just as the pit lane opened, we were lowering the car on the jack. From there it was literally a flag to flag win in both heats. Thanks to my team at Big Boss Auto for their hard work that made all this possible.
Thank you once again to our amazing sponsors and partners, and our dedicated committee for pulling off another memorable event!
Time trial results of the day by Class can be found by CLICKING HERE
Overall time trial results of the day can be found by CLICKING HERE