One of Gauteng’s most exciting and popular regional racing categories, the Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series got their 2018 season underway on Saturday, February 17. A grid of over 30 cars took part in the Midvaal Raceway season opener which formed part of the EV Dynamics Inland Championship on the day. Sporting some new entrants, the atmosphere was electric as everyone settled in to kick off their championship campaign.
Julian Fameliaris (Afrivalve E36 328i Turbo) took pole position during the Saturday morning’s qualifying session ahead of Jorge Estrela (Jadecon E36 328i Turbo) which also forms part of the new Class T for forced induction cars for the 2018 Championship Season. Willie Erasmus (Big Boss Auto E46 M3 GTR) lined up in the third position and first of the class B cars. It was a welcome return to the series for the Loureiro family with Rick (Combined Racing E30 325is) lining up ahead of Paulo (Combined Racing E36 M3 GTS). 2017 series champion Jan Eversteyn in his new Mammoet Racing E46 M3 and this year in class B completed the top-six on the grid. Season newcomer Renier Smith (Viking Mining Solutions E36 M3) would head up the class C challenge while another season newcomer, Salvi Gualtieri (Eataly E36 328i) headed up the class D cars.
In great anticipation, the cars circulated the track forming up for the rolling start of the first race of the season. As the lights went out the welcome roar of the mighty BMW engines filled the air. It was Fameliaris to make the most of a brilliant start taking the racing line and blocking any attempt to pass him through the first right-hand corner leaving Estrela with the only option of slotting in behind him and giving chase. Rick attempted a similar ploy but got himself squeezed to the outside by Paulo. Behind them, it was a blur of activity as the rest of the field negotiated the opening series of right-left-right-left bends cleanly.
At the front, Fameliaris pulled away gradually from Estrela in a slightly under-powered car. Estrela, however, took full advantage of the tussle behind him to increase his gap over the rest of the field. The scrap behind him quickly turned into a very entertaining battle between Erasmus and Paulo Loureiro. Erasmus held off a persistent Paulo during the opening lap, but the pair swopped position during the next lap. Watching the hunted relegated to the hunter kept the sizeable Meyerton crowd on their feet with Erasmus making it very clear that he was ready to pounce should Paulo make the slightest mistake. He would get that opportunity a few laps later, but Paulo came right back at him to retake the position. Rick Loureiro also fell victim to Eversteyn on the opening lap with the defending champion taking up fifth overall. Eversteyn would maintain the gap throughout the race not allowing Rick within striking distance.
Capitalizing on a great start, Shane Grobler (Mayfair Gearbox E36 M3 Turbo) made his way up to the seventh position on the opening lap; a position that he held onto until the end despite Andreas Meier (E36 M3) menacingly close behind him throughout the race. Man on the move, however, was Antonie Marx (Atomic Oil E46 M3) starting from the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for a technical infringement during qualifying. After the first lap, he was lying in the top 20 and passing the others hand over fist in a brilliant show of race craft as the race progressed. He would eventually take the class C lead on the third last lap to snatch the win from Renier Smith.
Not to be outdone by the excitement of the faster cars out front in the higher classes, the class D brat pack also put on a great display of close racing. Warren Dodd (Mike’s Auto Tune E90 330i) would break away early after making short work of getting past Salvi Gualtieri, Troy Cochran (Arrow Automotive E46 325ti) and Alan Hilligenn (E36 328i) leaving them to battle it out for second in class. Following hot on Dodd’s heals at first was another season newcomer Nek Makris (E46 328i Turbo) but soon got caught by the other class D contenders. Gualtieri would regain his class D second place mid-race after losing out a couple of positions on the start. Hilligenn who also fell back a couple of places on the start gradually clawed his way back into the race as he became part of the battle for the podium.
When the flag dropped, it would be Fameliaris taking a comfortable overall race win ahead of Estrela. The fascinating battle behind him was also for the Class B honours with Paulo taking the win ahead of Erasmus and Eversteyn. Marx’s efforts paid off to see him take the Class C victory ahead of Renier Smith. Oz Biagioni (Bio Pool Maintenance E46 M3) finished in a comfortable third place. Warren Dodd took the Class D win ahead of Salvi Gualtieri with Alan Hilligenn finishing in third place.
The Bridgestone BMW Club Car (E36 328i) was entrusted to their accountant Bernard de Gouveia for this round. Proving that bean counters do indeed have lots of aggression he qualified in an impressive twenty-sixth position. He completed a solid race to finish in the twenty-fifth position; also ranking eighth in Class D.
Top 3 Results by Class in Race 1
1. Julian Fameliaris – 01:08.820
2. Jorge Estrela – 01:09.097
1. Paulo Loureiro – 01: 10.975
2. Willie Erasmus – 01: 11.270
3. Jan Eversteyn – 01: 12.277
1. Antoni Marx – 01: 13.415
2. Renier Smith – 01:15.369
3. Oz Biagioni – 01:16.243
1. Warren Dodd – 01:17.495
2. Salvi Gualtieri – 01:16.944
3. Alan Hilligenn – 01:18.612
Fastest Lap: Julian Fameliaris (1:08.820) in Lap 2
Following Race 1, mechanical bothers would deny Rick Loureiro to start the second race. Another retirement would see Estrela not make it to the start when the wheel came off his car on the formation lap through the second last corner before the start-finish straight.
The inverted grid per class taken from their best race 1 lap time would once again make for some exhilarating action during the opening laps of Race 2. With Fameliaris being the only Class T runner remaining, this provided him with a perfect opportunity to make a clean break at the start with the Class B pack jostling for position.
On the opening lap, it was Morne Visagie (Viking Mining Solutions E36 M3 Turbo) and Shane Grobler who were the first contenders taking an early Class B lead with Eversteyn and Paulo Loureiro hot on their heels. Behind them, it was Erasmus and Meier locking horns in a battle that would last for the duration of the race. An embattled Craig Ball (Rock Solid Industries E36 M3) who started third on the grid would gradually slide down the grid as his car just could not deliver the power to fight for the podium places. After a great start, Shane Grobler would also retire in a cloud of smoke a few laps later.
Marx once again found himself starting from a lower position on the grid, but fortunately for him only at the back of the class C grid this time around. He made up some places off the start and the opening laps just to briefly lock horns with Shaun Lamprecht (Viking Mining Solutions E36 318is Turbo) and Jimmy Tsimenoglou (Big Boss Auto E36 M3). He made short work of passing them one after the other and then broke away from the class C pack. That left Renier Smith and Trevor Long (Roof Surgeon E36 M3) to take the challenge to Tsimenoglou and Lamprecht.
In class D, Warren Dodd had his work cut out for him as he had to start towards the back of the class D grid. He, however, met this challenge head-on and made up a couple of places off the start and the opening lap. He passed Troy Cochran at the start, but Cochran did not take it lying down as he chased after Dodd, breathing down his neck at every opportunity he got. Also making a brilliant start was Salvi Gualtieri right at the back of the grid and sliced through the grid like a hot knife through butter making the statement he is in this championship to take race wins and score points!
With Fameliaris taking another trouble-free race victory, Paulo found himself in second place; this time with a bit of distance between himself and the rest of the class B group. Erasmus was again a force to be reckoned with as Eversteyn found out this time around, but the defending champion did not submit to the pressure to finish the race in the third position. Erasmus did indeed push very hard for the place, in fact so hard that he received a 15-second penalty for exceeding track limits to find himself classified in the fifth position. Meier gained from this penalty to see himself classified in the fourth position. Coetzee slotted into the sixth position ahead of Visagie. Marx successfully worked his way up through the entire Class C field to finish the race in the eighth position. Jimmy Tsimenoglou drove a good race to finish in ninth place. Shaun Lamprecht held off Trevor Long to round off the top-ten.
Paulo also made it two-from-two in Class B ahead of Eversteyn and Meier. It was another win for Marx in Class C ahead of Tsimenoglou and Lamprecht. Dodd took his second Class D win. Gualtieri racked up a 15-second penalty for exceeding track limits which earned him the nickname “Shortcut”. This would see him swapping positions on the Class D podium with Cochran.
De Gouveia dropped back a couple of places during the opening lap, but as the race settled down found himself in a good three-way tussle with Morgan Long (Mend-A-Roof E46 330i) and Spiro Makris (E36 M3) finishing in twenty-third position overall and in tenth place in Class D.
Top 3 Results by Class in Race 2
1. Julian Fameliaris – 01:10.851
1. Paulo Loureiro – 01:12.610
2. Jan Eversteyn – 01:13.116
3. Andreas Meier – 01:14.094
1. Antonie Marx – 01:14.302
2. Jimmy Tsimenoglou – 01: 17.742
3. Shaun Lamprecht – 01: 16.571
1. Warren Dodd – 01: 17.817
2. Troy Cochran – 01: 17.975
3. Salvi Gualtieri – 01:17.415
Fastest Lap: Julian Fameliaris (1:10.851) in Lap 2
Overall Classification for the Day
The Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series overall classification for the day is determined by points scored from the two races. In the case of a tie, the accumulated time for both races determines the position.
In Class T Fameliaris took home a limited maximum 12 points from his two wins ahead of Estrela with his 5 points obtained during the first race.
Paulo’s two wins in Class B saw him banking 20 points on the day with Eversteyn second on 14 points and Erasmus third on 13 points.
Marx had to work hard for his full tally of 20 points on the day. Smith followed up his second place in Race 1 with a Class C fifth place in Race 2 to take home 12 points. Both Lamprecht and Tsimenoglou finished their day with 11 points-a-piece with Lamprecht taking third place on account of his better time.
In Class D it was a full house of 20 points for Dodd ahead of Gualtieri with 14 points and Cochran with 12 points.
Gualtieri was awarded Driver of the Day for his brilliant debut performance.
From the Cockpit:
#72 – Paulo Loureiro – Combined Racing E36 M3 GTS – Winner Class B
What a great way to start the BMW Club Racing Series off in the Inland Championship. In qualifying, I had some issues with fuel leaks but managed a 3rd on the grid. In Race 1 I had an awesome dice with Willie Erasmus, tight close racing but managed a 1st place in Race 1. Race 2 with the reverse grid is always one of my favourite races as you have to work your way past traffic to get back in front. I am very proud to say I got a double win on the day also achieving my best lap time of a 1:10.9.
Special thanks to my sponsors Combined Racing, CPW and Tune-Tech. This would not be possible without any of you. Well done to all drivers and everyone putting in the effort to make it a successful day. I am already looking forward to the next round in March at one of my favourite race tracks, Phakisa.
#86 – Antonie Marx – Atomic Oil E46 M3 – Winner Class C
For me personally, it was probably one of my best performances to date. We were very disappointed with the penalty in qualifying and had to start the race at the back of the entire grid. Lucky for us it was just one of those days where everything worked out perfectly. The car was unbelievable. Thanks to my dad and the Tinco Motorsport team for preparing a winning car!
#87 – Warren Dodd – Mike’s Auto Tune E90 330i – Winner Class D
Qualifying was tough as I got held up a little by some of the new guys so only managed to qualify 5th in class. Race 1 I started right behind Troy Cochran and got him into turn one as Alan Hilligenn ran wide and off track. Then I just worked my way through the traffic until I got to the front. Then I put my head down and built up a gap of 7 seconds to second-placed Gualtieri.
Race 2 I started in second last next to Gualtieri and again had to work my way to the front of class D. Troy started to catch up and put pressure on me. I then had to drive a very defensive race for most of the race. In the last 2 – 3 laps I started to build a gap on Troy as I could see Salvi catching us! Salvi got Troy with a corner or 2 to go, but I managed to win both races.
The new car handles like a dream but is very heavy so will struggle on the faster tracks such as Phakisa.
#67 – Salvi Gualtieri – Eataly E36 328i – Driver of the Day
What a great day both my races were foot flat all the way. I managed a 2 in race one after a long battle with Necterio in the turbo BMW and race 2 managed a second as well. But Mr Shortcut got a 15-second penalty and was placed third in the end. That taught me the valuable lesson that I need to listen in drivers briefing.
In the end, I got an overall second in class and Driver of the day in my first race which was super great.
A big thank you to Savspeed for all the late hours of work getting my car prepared. JR Cylinder Head for supply the head in the early hours of Friday morning and Eataly Foods for the great investment and support. Big thanks to Mr Broom and committee for all their work. You guys did a superb job.
With such a great start to the season, it promises to become one of the most tightly contested seasons ever. With a few cars still being prepared, one can expect the next round to be one not to be missed. The next round will form part of the BMW Car Club Gauteng track weekend at the iconic Free State circuit of Phakisa Freeway outside Welkom on the 10th of March 2018.
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