Pretoria, South Africa – Gennaro Bonafede fought right to the end for the 2017 Sasol GTC Championship in atrocious conditions at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, and after two hard races, he had to settle for second overall in the final championship standings.
Bonafede raced to two sixth places after starting his weekend on the back-foot after a propshaft broke in free practice three. The Sasol GTC Racing Team performed a minor miracle to repair the BMW GTC racing car - which included removing the gearbox – in just over an hour and was in time for official qualifying; although Bonafede came out late in the session he set the seventh fastest time, only 0.275 seconds off pole position which represented a great effort from the entire Sasol GTC Racing Team.
With his title rival on pole position and in pouring rain, Bonafede had no option but to take calculated risks as best could in the tricky conditions and ran off the track on three separate conditions, ending the opening race in sixth position.
The team made a set-up change for race two – held under wet and slippery conditions – but it didn’t work as expected and Bonafede was left to circulate in sixth place.
Robert Wolk, racing his BMW GTC racing car in the wet for the first time, qualified in fifth place but suffered with a misted up window and ran off the circuit in turn one, relegating him to the back of the field. In race two, leading the pack on the reverse grid, found cold brakes and a wet circuit was a bad combination and skated off the track at turn five. He circulated at the back of the GTC field to record two eighth place finishes.
Bonafede, although disappointed with the overall championship outcome said: “We led the championship for over half the season and ran Michael close. In the first race, visibility was terrible but given my qualifying position I had to take several risks which didn’t pan out and I left the track on three separate occasions while looking for extra grip on some unusual racing lines. With nothing to lose in race two, we made some set-up changes but they simply didn’t work in the conditions.
Wolk said: “I didn’t have good balance in qualifying which left me in fifth place. It’s the first time I have driven the BMW in the wet and battled with a misted-up windscreen which led to me going off at turn one. In race two, I was in front going into turn five but I had no brake temperature and went straight on.
Overall, it has been an encouraging year for me in GTC and I look forward to using the experience gained this season and using it to mount a championship challenge next year”.
Team Manager Vic Maharaj added: “It wasn’t the end of year we wanted. We had to risk everything to give Gennaro a chance at the championship and we gambled on the set-up for
the conditions. But it didn’t fall in our favour. I would like to congratulate the Terry Moss Team for the championship win. We put up a consistent challenge and will come out stronger than ever next year”
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