It makes considerable sense to keep a race day sponsor happy – and that happened in spades during Saturday’s Sasol Raceday at the Zwartkops Raceway on the outskirts of Pretoria.
The event’s main race -–the final Bridgestone Production Car heat – was won overall by Hennie Groenewald in the Sasol team’s Subaru WRX STI. Naturally Sasol’s hospitality area in the pits, where the fuel giant entertained a large number of guests, became a lively place with much cheering and champagne popping the order of the day.
Groenewald took the victory from Gennaro Bonafede (Ferodo Audi), Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi S4), Johan Fourie (Afrox Pirtek BMW 335i) and Tschops Sipuka (Engen Xtreme Audi S4). Sixth – dropping him out of immediate championship contention – was Etienne van der Linde whose Afrox BMW suffered a broken wheel rim when he was fighting Groenewald for the victory.
Gavin Cronje took the main Class T trophy in his Castrol MINI Cooper S leading home Graeme Nathan (IndyOil Golf GTI), Gary Formato (Castrol Ford Focus ST) and Devin Robertson (Liqui Moly Renault Megane). Earlier in the day, during the opening heat, Shaun Duminy provided the season’s biggest crash thus far with his Castrol Ford Focus ST.
Going into the Zwartkops back straight Duminy’s car was tagged sideways at some 150 km/h. The Ford slid over the grass next to the circuit without losing any speed, hit the bank and rolled four times.
Duminy stepped out of the wreckage with ease – the car had no doors left – and unhurt.
Another crash in the opening race took out Michael van Rooyen’s Williams Hunt Chev Cruze and Gavin Cronje’s MINI. Cronje’s retirement had championship repurcussions giving Graeme Nathan a clear title points lead in Class T.
For Michael Stephens third, fourth and third places in the works Audi were enough to extend his Class A lead – proof again that consistency beats outright speed when it comes to titles.