Despite not finishing on the podium during Round 8 of the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship, EPS Racing’s Johan Fourie delivered two thrilling performances in front of his home crowd at the Killarney International Raceway on Saturday, September 22.
A fuel pump wiring issue during Friday’s practice day limited his track time in Free Practice 2, but thanks to speedy work from the VM Innovations team, this was resolved in time for Fourie to end the afternoon confident with the pace available. During Saturday morning’s qualifying session, the Terry Moss Racing Audi pair of Michael Stephen and Simon Moss locked out the front row of the grid, with Fourie taking third place in his BMW 2-Series GTC.
The afternoon’s first race saw Stephen gradually pulling away from the rest of the field. Behind him one of the most entertaining battles of the season developed with a determined Fourie right in the centre of the action. During the early stages Fourie found a way past Moss to momentarily occupy second place, but the Audi driver soon retook the position where after he was able to build a gap between himself and the rest of the field. This left Fourie jostling for position with fellow BMW rivals Gennaro Bonafede and Michael van Rooyen as well as Daniel Rowe in his Volkswagen Jetta. Every lap saw another change in the running order to the delight of the crowd. On the penultimate lap there was slight contact between Fourie and Bonafede at the exit of Turn 1. This saw Fourie forced onto a wider line, but still able to keep the fight for third place alive. Another incident at Turn 3 saw Fourie losing track position which allowed Van Rooyen and Rowe through. With not much time remaining, Fourie was unable to launch another attack and took fifth position in the thrilling opening race.
Race 2 on the day provides the added excitement of the reverse grid line up with Fourie again starting from third place. With the Audi pair making their way to the front of the field during the early stages, Fourie again found himself in a good battle with Bonafede for third position. During the closing stages he struggled with oversteer which allowed Bonafede to take the position. Fourie held onto his fourth position until the end of the race.
Despite not collecting any silverware, Fourie notes the day’s races as two of the most enjoyable of his career: “We certainly had two great battles on track today, I really had to work hard; this is the type of racing that I enjoy. I think it was quite evident throughout the weekend that we were never going to catch the Audi pair around the Killarney International Raceway despite making my way past Simon for short while. The first race saw a bit of rubbing which cost us some places, but I can I certainly say that we are happy with the results from today.”
The final round of the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship will see Fourie in action at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, October 20. After misfortune during the opening rounds, Fourie bounced back with a host of strong performances during the middle part of the season. The final two races will see him working hard to clinch fourth position in the championship; again, finishing as the leading privateer in the process.
Story by Reynard Gelderblom – EPS Racing / Johan Fourie