Brian Joss –
Round six of the Extreme Festival for the National Production Car Championship (NPCC) took the competitors to a new circuit – Dezzi Raceway in Port Shepstone. Here a narrow and, in places, very bumpy circuit awaited featuring tight turns, blind corners and several elevation changes – all posing a unique set of challenges to the racers.
The first of the drivers to master their challenges would also be the first to put points on the scoreboard for the weekend. In accepted style, it was the Audi S4 quattro racers that got the combination right – and proceeded to feature all weekend.
In qualifying it was Michael Stephen (12 – Engen Xtreme) who put his Audi S4 quattro on pole for race one. He proceeded to claim the first chequered flag of the weekend as well.
“A perfect race weekend, fast practise times, fastest in qualifying and then winning the first race was a great start,” says Stephen who now leads the championship by one point. “Going from there to win the third race as well, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Behind him it was Hennie Groenewald (8 – Audi Sasolracing) who took second spot to make it an Audi S4 quattro one-two to start the day’s racing.
“Personally, it has been our most challenging race weekend,” says Groenewald. “Trying to find the setup and balance for this circuit only really happened late on Friday. A second place in race one and third in race three means we got some good points on race day. The last time we raced in Cape Town I had pole position down there, so I think we can have a strong performance when we head down there for the next round.”
The race two victory went to another of the Audi S4 quattro racers, Simon Moss (38 – Engen Xtreme). This marked Moss’ first victory in the series. He has been slowly progressing this season, first with good qualifying times, followed by front row grid starts and podium finishes to the point where he achieved his first win.
“Race two was my first win in the series – and it felt very good,” says Moss. “I knew I was in good shape when I was close to Michael during the various sessions – even though I was on old tyres. Unfortunately I didn’t get to qualify because of a brake problem, but ultimately the weekend worked in my favour and I’m very happy.”
For Gennaro Bonafede (32 – Audi Sasolracing) the weekend wasn’t quite what he had aimed for, even though he was third in qualifying.
“In the first race I broke a steering arm balljoint and missed being classified in the race results by a single lap,” says Bonafede. “In the second race I had to start last and it is very difficult to pass here, so that was a sixth place finish. Race three I broke a shock absorber and only completed four of the eight laps.”
The Audi S4 quattro racers now prepare for their penultimate round of the series at Killarney Raceway on Saturday, October 24, as the fight to crown the 2015 National Production Car Champion continues.