The Sasol GTC Racing Team heads to Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria for round five of the Sasol GTC Championship with an added spring in their step following Gennaro Bonafede’s domination of the Kyalami round last month. A subsequent successful test session ensures that the team’s two BMW GTC racing cars are in fine fettle for the Sasol Raceday on 26th November.
The new premier racing series is nearing the end of its inaugural season and much has been learned over the past three months. The Sasol GTC Racing Team has taken the fight to their main rival Michael Stephen over the last two rounds in the Western Cape and Gauteng thanks to some brilliant performances from Bonafede, who has racked up three victories and two podiums in the last five races.
Now that the team’s BMW GTC cars are quick and reliable, the focus has moved to getting Hennie Groenewald’s car up to the same level. Groenewald has endured all the team’s growing pains, as well as carrying out a development role where not every solution the team tried has worked as they had hoped.
Armed with a new engine under the bonnet of the number eight BMW, and with both cars featuring revised cooling layouts, much is expected around the short 2.4km circuit.
Flying the Sasol flag in the Sasol GTC Championship at the Sasol Raceday brings a touch of added pressure to the team. The series sponsor hosts a number of guests who have high expectations for the team. “There is pressure from all sides; commercially it is our single most important race weekend of the year”, Team Principal Carel Pienaar said.
Pienaar explains what has been happening in the team’s workshop over the last month. “We got to the bottom of Hennie’s Kyalami issue. We found a quick and simple solution. Gennaro’s dramatic looking smoke in race two was no more than a small oil leak onto the exhaust. All four BMWs in the GTC series had their engines stripped by the technical delegate after Kyalami. That hindered our testing programme somewhat but I am happy with our progress. It is a steep learning curve in a very concentrated championship calendar where we have six rounds in just four months”.
Lying second in the championship standings, Bonafede is relishing the chance to race at Zwartkops again. “The cars will be around a second per lap faster than when we raced there in August. The pace of development has been substantial and race fans will see a different animal to what raced three months ago. I hope my pace from Kyalami transfers to Zwartkops. The momentum is with us at the moment and I want to achieve more wins while I’m riding this wave. My car is working well and I’m looking forward to showing it off to the many fans that visit our pits”.
Groenewald is equally upbeat about his chances at the Sasol Raceday. “I’m optimistic that I will have a reliable car after the team has made some significant changes. Testing has indicated that the pace is good. The Sasol Raceday has traditionally been kind to the team so I’m looking forward to a strong result. My car is getting quicker and quicker as the chassis gets sorted out. I have some work to do as well, to adapt my driving style to extract the maximum from the package. The lap-time movement that we expect to see is somewhere around 0.8 seconds, which is a considerable improvement around a short track”.
Zwartkops has an open pit policy and race fans are welcome to visit the Sasol GTC Racing Team pit area and view the cars and chat to the drivers.
[Issued by Sasol GTC Racing Team]