Zwartkops - 2020-02-01
This year’s Passion for Speed Festival at Zwartkops on the first weekend of February lifted the curtain on the local track racing season, and in sweltering heat a bumper crowd turned out to see some great racing by old and new machinery.
The Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series contested their first round of the championship and added much to the day’s varied programme, with some stellar performances giving an indication of great things to come in 2020.
After some blistering laps in qualifying on Friday, Sav Gualtieri (SavSpeed BMW F30 335i) and Rick Loureiro (Combined Racing BMW F30 335i) occupied the front row for race 1 and headed the 30-car strong field into the early start on Saturday morning. While the pair were soon away in a race of their own, behind them it was open warfare. Devin Robertson (Liqui Moly/Big Boss Auto BMW E46 M3) led the chasing pack, with Dino Fameliaris (BMW E36 M3 Turbo), Jorge Estrela (Jadecon BMW E36 328i Turbo) and William Einkamerer (BMW E92 335i) in close attendance.
In the new Bridgestone semi-slick tyre configuration, Class B and overall 2019 champion Andreas Meier (#TrainedAmateurs BMW E36 STC Car) headed the rest of the field behind the slick shod Class A monsters, but soon found himself without gears due to a loose plug between steering wheel and engine management system, and after hastily re-connecting it he started clawing his way back through the entire field. In his absence, Oz Biagioni (BioPool Maintenance BMW E46 M3), Jan Eversteyn (Bavaria 0.0%/Big Boss Auto BMW E46 M3) and Carlo Garbini (Kimbo Coffee BMW E46 328i Turbo) making a welcome return to the series, decided to have a terrific scrap of their own.
Class C was no less hectic with Shaun Lamprecht (Wildthings BMW E36 318i Turbo) leading Shane Grobler (Mayfair Gearbox BMW E36 330i), Nek Makris (BMW E46 328i Turbo), Rob Gearing (diebels Alt BMW E30 325is), doing an excellent job in his first outing in the class, Troy Cochran (Arrow Automotive BMW E36 M3) and Neil Reynolds (Valve Hospital BMW E36 M3). In Class D, defending champion Alan Hilligenn (C3 Shared Services BMW E36 M3) picked up where he left off in 2019, leading from Varish Ganpath (Prodigy BMW E46 325CI) and Paolo Cavalieri of Pablo Clark fame, having a day’s outing in the original Peter Kaye Eddie BMW E36 328i, now owned by Rui Campos. Klippies Krige (BMW E36 M3) kept them in his sights.
Class E was all about Nicholas van Zyl (Luxury Fragrances for Rides BMW E87 130i) and Carlos Gameiro (Lapace Racing BMW 325is), with Colin van Son (Bridgestone BMW E36 328i) and Manny Ribeiro (Bridgestone BMW E46 325i Touring) in touching distance. First timer Craig Herbst (Greenhouse Solar BMW E46 330i) was doing an excellent job of staying with them and fending off Bertie Rietfeld (Rietveld Knives BMW E36 328i).
After 10 pulsating laps, The Sav crossed the line in first place, with Loureiro second and Robertson in third. Carlo Garbini made the best possible debut winning Class B ahead of Biagioni and Eversteyn. Meier still salvaged points for fourth in class. Class C was won by Lamprecht, and he was followed home by another debutante Rob Gearing who served notice of intent for the campaign ahead. Troy Cochran completed the podium. Shane Grobler retired with mechanical issues while Makris slid off the track with no brakes and damaged his car, fortunately not too badly. Not the start either wanted to the season. Hilligenn won Class D ahead of duelling Ganpath and the excellent Cavalieri, with youngster Nicholas van Zyl taking the class E honours, with Gameiro second and van Son in third.
Race 1 Results per Class:
1. Sav Gaultieri - 01:03.325
2. Rick Loureiro - 01:04.589
3. Devin Robertson - 01:06.082
1. Carlo Garbini - 01:09.283
2. Oz Biagioni - 01:10.013
3. Jan Eversteyn - 01:09.899
1. Shaun Lamprecht - 01:11.071
2. Rob Gearing - 01:12.394
3. Troy Cochran - 01:12.255
1. Alan Hilligenn - 01:13.605
2. Varish Ganpath - 01:14.200
3. Paulo Cavalieri - 01:14.437
1. Nicholas Van Zyl - 01:16.851
2. Carlos Gameiro - 01:17.347
3. Colin van Son - 01:18.601
Fastest Lap: Sav Gaultieri - 01:03.325 in Lap 2
The customary reverse grid for heat 2, taken from their fastest lap times in heat 1 and inverted per class, saw William Einkamerer lead the field away with Dino Fameliaris alongside him. They were closely followed by Jorge Estrela and the rest of the field. Gualtieri and Loureiro however soon took over at the front and proceeded to have a terrific scrap to the end.
In Class B the morning’s foursome served up another fraught battle with Biagioni initially leading Eversteyn and Garbini. Meier started behind them by virtue of his fastest lap in race 1 and was keen to make amends for his poor finish in it. In Class C the mornings race had set the scene for the afternoon’s spectacle, and another debutante Ian Kotwal in the beautiful Retoria Motors BMW F22 235i initially led the charge, but the chasing pack had him in their sights. Renier Smith (#TrainedProfessionals BMW E36 M3) had a poor first race and was keen to get some points on the board. Neil Reynolds, Troy Cochran, Rob Gearing and Shaun Lamprecht were doing the same with Nek Makris gingerly trying to keep up with an understeering car, after the morning’s off-track excursion.
Paolo Cavalieri was holding his own against the usual suspects, Hilligenn, Ganpath and Krigge in Class D, while the Class E contingent was delivering more thrilling racing between van Son, van Zyl, Gameiro and Nicholas Herbst, who shared the car with his father Craig.
In warm afternoon sunshine another 10 exciting laps elapsed with Rick Loureiro just beating Gualtieri after passing him on the last lap through the Tabletop section of the track and to much delight of the VIP spectators in the ZOC gallery. Fameliaris completed the podium with Jorge Estrela in fourth. In Class B Meier put wrongs to rights by winning from Eversteyn and Biagioni, with the morning’s winner Garbini down the order after a spin out of turn 4. In Class C Renier Smith made amends for a poor showing in race 1 by winning from Gearing and Cochran in third beating Kotwal by the narrowest of margins to the line.
Hilligenn was a double winner in Class D with Ganpath coming home in second and Klippies Krigge in third. Paolo Cavalieri was a happy fourth after a solid day’s driving. Colin van Son also completed a good day with a win in Class E, with a delighted debutant Nicholas Herbst finishing runner up, ahead of the morning’s winner Nicholas van Zyl. Carlos Gameiro had to settle for fourth place, with an overheating engine.
Rob Gearing won the coveted Driver of the Day award after first breaking out of class in Qualifying and then mixing it up proper with the front runners in Class C.
Race 2 Results per Class:
1. Rick Loureiro - 01:04.562
2. Sav Gaultieri - 01:04.327
3. Dino Fameliaris - 01:08.635
1. Andreas Meier - 01:10.269
2. Jan Eversteyn - 01:10.832
3. Oz Biagioni - 01:11.255
1. Renier Smith - 01:11.590
2. Rob Gearing - 01:13.146
3. Troy Cochran - 01:13.303
1. Alan Hilligenn - 01:14.213
2. Varish Ganpath - 01:14.978
3. Klippies Krige - 01:16.470
1. Colin van Son - 01:17.901
2. Nicholas Herbst - 01:17.460
3. Nicholas van Zyl - 01:17.793
Fastest Lap: Sav Gaultieri - 01:04.327 in Lap 6
The scene is thus set for another exciting campaign, with the huge field a promising sign of some great racing to come. One can only but look forward to the next round to take place on 21 March 2020 at the Red Star Raceway outside Delmas as it forms part of the first instalment of the popular Bridgestone Track and Race Day.