Monday, 28 May 2012


Team Sasol Racing’s Hennie Groenewald put in a command performance at Zwartkops Raceway to dominate the 4th round of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship and extend his championship points lead to 16 points and set a new circuit lap record as an added bonus.

The Subaru WRX STI started two races from pole position, claimed three victories and set three fastest laps but team principal Carel Pienaar cautioned that the Subaru team had an element of luck in their races.  “We know other teams were quicker than us in practice but didn’t convert their pace into race performance whereas we had a strategy that worked perfectly.  Hennie was on top form but the cars he passed in race two were more as a result of other driver’s errors than out-and-out pace”.

Richard claimed his best qualifying performance of the season so far, planting his Sasol Subaru WRX STI in 6th on the grid but his vein of poor luck continued in the Pretoria races.

Practice and Qualifying:

Hennie set the 2nd quickest time in P1, went fastest in P2 and was third in P3, behind one BMW and an Audi.  Qualifying in the cool Highveld air saw Hennie set a time of 1:04:741, nearly half a second faster than Michael Stephen’s works Audi.

“I was surprised at my time, which is the first ever under a 1:05 for the Sasol Subaru.  I knew we had a competitive car after practice but Michael set a better time than me on fresh rubber so I was quite surprised by my time as it is the same car we had in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.  The cooler air and higher altitude suits the Subaru.

Race 1:

Hennie scorched off the line into the lead and put in a blistering lap to open a sizeable lead to the chasing pack.  “I did a flat out lap to build a lead as our pace drops off towards the end of the race while the Audis get stronger”, said the race winner.

Richard was locked in a fierce battle with Johan Fourie’s Audi for 7th.  As the Audi dived up the inside line at the hairpin, Richard simply used the Subaru’s grip to defend his line around the outside and then out-dragged him onto the main straight to hold his position to the flag.

Race 2: 

The top six finishers were inverted, leaving Hennie 6th on the grid.  Half way around the first lap, he was up to 5th, then 3rd on lap two, 2nd on lap 3 and challenged Anthony Taylor’ (BMW) for the lead on lap 4.  “Anthony put a wheel onto the dirt and as he lifted I put the car’s nose in the gap and went for it.  I was in the right place at the right time during the race and maximized them to my advantage”, said a delighted Hennie after the race.

Team boss Carel added: “Hennie is a master at clean overtaking; there isn’t a single mark on the car.  We gambled on using new tyres for race 2 to set the fastest lap which would give us pole for race 3 and our plan worked perfectly”.

The vibration on Richard’s car that started in the first race caused the brake disc and calipers to move, leaving the second sasol Subaru without effective braking.  Richard pitted hoping the team could find a cure and came out on the last lap to set a time for race 3.  “The problem was bigger than I thought, so the team changed the wheel bearing for the last race”.

Race 3:

Hennie led the field in the final race, which started at dusk.  “I hoped Michael and Anthony would dispute the first corner and hold each other up letting me open up a gap which is exactly what happened”, Hennie explained.  As the warring German marques tripped over each other, Hennie opened a big lead to finish the double-points paying race 3 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.

Richard was forced to retire as the brakes were damaged from the bearing vibration earlier in the day.  “I’m naturally very disappointed but at the same time, I’m ecstatic for the Team”.

“Everything went right today”, beamed Carel.  “Our preparation and hard work paid dividends and our strategy worked to plan; I’m very happy.  The other teams plans didn’t work out which made us look better than we really were”.

The next outing for Team Sasol Racing is in Durban as part of the Top Gear festival on 16 and 17 June.


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