New star to thrill fans at Scribante Bridgestone clash

PORT Elizabeth motorsport fans will have a lot to look forward to when the next leg of the Bridgestone Super Production Car series takes place at Aldo Scribante raceway.

The race, on April 6, will see a bright new star in action in a ding-dong battle for supremacy.

Gennaro Bonafede upset the apple cart at Killarney at the weekend after taking a popular win in the 14-lap feature race, just holding off Port Elizabeth’s reigning champion, Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme), in a similar Audi S4.

The lanky Pretoria engineering student was almost speechless with delight, paying tribute to a team which seemed willing to go to any lengths to ensure the best possible result.

“Wow, I can’t believe it, just weeks after my worst race meeting ever I have a flag to flag win and my first in the Ferodo Audi,” he enthused.

“At the end, the tyres were going off and I can’t remember when I was last so happy to see the flag!”

Stephen had been hot on his bumper for a number of laps and second was a highlight of a frustrating weekend. His team mate, Tschops Sipuka, also from Port Elizabeth, was third.

Just a second separated the three after 14 hard laps.

A number of competitors didn’t get off the grid (and Devin Robertson, in the Big Boss Renault, didn’t get out of the pits after his engine woes continued): Michael van Rooyen, in the Williams Hunt Chevrolet Cruze, ran into the back of Gary Formato, who had stalled his Castrol Ford Focus ST on the grid, the resultant impact eliminating both cars.

If nothing else, the incident demonstrated just how quickly the Killarney marshals can clear a grid.

En route to the first corner there was a three-way coming together as Hennie Groenewald found his Sasolracing Subaru STI sandwiched between the two Afrox BMWs, the resultant bumping and bashing leaving Johan Fourie with suspension so badly rearranged that the car was undriveable.

There was further argy-bargy between Groenewald and the Mueller Audi S4 of Melvill Priest, the two tangling when the latter missed a gear and they ended up vying for the same piece of tarmac.

Stephen working his way through the field was one of the highlights of the event, and if there had been 15th lap he may well have been celebrating a win.

With the class T numbers decimated early on, it was left to the Indyoil Golfs of Graeme Nathan and Jacques Joubert and the Castrol Mini of Gavin Cronje to provide the action.

That more or less dissolved when Nathan’s gearbox shed most of its gears. The reigning champion was eventually left with only third gear, limping around and still managing fourth place.

Cronje progressively pulled away slowly from Joubert, the Mini proving to be exceptionally strong on the brakes.

In third place was Shaun Duminy (Castrol Ford Focus ST), adamant that this would be his last race in the old car.

The twisted evidence in the post-race paddock suggested there was plenty of work to be done by plenty of teams if they were going to be in Port Elizabeth in three weeks’ time for round three.

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