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Bridgestone Production Car Championship Into Home Stretch At East London Circuit

by CAR magazine on 11/10/2007

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The occasions will be rounds 19 and 20 of the 2007 Bridgestone South African Production Car championship at the East London Grand Prix circuit.

The tin-top racing will form part of the penultimate round of this year’s premier WesBank Super Series, during its only visit of the year to the historical venue.

The Production Car discipline will go to the Eastern Cape with the title chases in all four of its contested classes poised on a razor’s edge.

In Class A, three drivers will continue to fight for this year’s championship, with three others still standing a mathematical chance to snatch the title in the season’s remaining four races.

Johan Fourie (JF Transport Audi A4 3,2 quattro) is the current title points leader, with his closest two challengers Shaun Watson-Smith (Engen Xtreme Audi) and defending champion Leeroy Poulter (Sasol Nissan 350Z).

The other three drivers who could still theoretically become champion – given bad luck on the part of the top trio – are Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi), Etienne van der Linde (Castrol BMW 330i) and Melvill Priest (MiKar Sonax Audi).

Any of the above could stand on the East London podium, as could Castrol BMW 330i drivers Anthony Taylor and Clinton Weston, Sasol Nissan 350Z pilots Tschops Sipuka and Gavin Cronje’, plus the Nissan Dealer Team’s Marco da Cunha (Tubular Tech Nissan 350Z) and Deon Joubert (Carfind.co.za Nissan 350Z.

Finally, Subaru Impreza WRX STi team members Dawie Olivier, Seef Fourie and Peter Lindenberg could provide surprises, racing under the respective Bosal, Medal Paints and RAM banners.

Experts expect the East London circuit, that boasts this country’s two fastest racing corners in the Potters Pass and Rifle Range sweeps, to suit the rear-wheel drive Nissans and BMWs better than it will the all-wheel drive Audis and Subarus.

That fact could have huge ramifications for this season’s title chase by the end of next weekend.

Three competitors – Iain Pepper (PG Glass VW Golf GTI), Graeme Nathan (BP Ultimate VW Golf GTI) and Heinz Bose (Speed Tuning Golf GTI) are in line for this season’s top honours in Class T, for force inducted petrol-engined cars.

They will be expected to set the pace at East London, chased by Robert Wolk (Afintapart MINI Cooper S), Garth Waberski (Castrol MINI Cooper S) and Peet Visage, in his Liebherr VW Golf GTI.

This season’s toughest title war will continue to be fought in Class B, with legendary old-timer Ben Morgenrood (Zoom-Zoom Mazda RX8) marginally ahead of talented youngster Riyad Jaffer (Sasol Toyota RunX RSi) on the points ladder.

Jaffer will have his Sasol team mate Dave Compton (Toyota RunX RSi) to ride shotgun for him at East London, with Paulo da Cunha (Middelburg Fiat Stilo Abarth), Danie van Niekerk (Ford Fiesta ST) and Shaun Pike (Tosca Toyota RunX RSi), rounding out the class.

Privateer Robi Beninca (BTS VW CitiGolf) currently leads this season’s Bridgestone Junior Production Car Championship by a single point from works Fiat driver Trevor Tuck (Motorsport Infinity Grande Punto).

Either driver could win at East London, but they could face interference from people like Mark Silverwood (OKI Ford Fiesta), Etienne Prinsloo (Bizhub VW Polo TDI), Jason Thornton (Global Car Rental Ford Ikon) and Theunis Eloff in his Motorsport Infinity Fiat Grande Punto.

The four Bridgestone Production Car classes will take to the East London circuit at the same time, and tackle two 12-lap races next Saturday.