This coming weekend, 9 Feb, will see the opening round of the popular Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series as they take to the Red Star Raceway track as part of the first Bridgestone BMW Track and Race Day.
Race Series aside, the day will also host the Bridgestone Time Trial Series while members of the public will have an opportunity to go for a fast lap in the Bridgestone Hot Lap vehicles driven by a professional driver for just R100.
The day will kick off around 08:00 with a first practice session for the race series cars and then several Time Trial sessions up until 10:40 when the Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series will go out for Qualifying for their first race to take place before lunch at 12:00. After lunch the Time Trial sessions will resume until the second race of the day at 15:00 the afternoon. Thereafter the track will be opened to all cars entered on the day for a 60-minute, light permitting, Open Session until close around 17:30.
While the Bridgestone Time Trial Series invites all makes of car and all levels of drivers to try their hand at the best possible lap time it is a requirement that drivers are holders of an MSA circuit license and vehicles are track worthy. To take advantage of the Hot Laps it is required that passengers wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. Spectator entry is completely free for the day and are welcome in the pits where they can meet the race drivers and sign up for the Hot Laps. Food and refreshments will also be on sale throughout the day.
Bridgestone BMW Club Racing Series
After a very exciting and tightly contested 2018 championship season, and a new set of rules for 2019, it is expected to be the most competitive season yet. Doing away with the Class T for Turbo cars, will allow for more leniency in the lower classes and relevant breakout times for the various classes. As happened often in the past, most of the competitors would be racing within but a hundredth of a second from the breakout times, it will now allow for about a second buffer in each class. That is expected to ensure the borderlines to be racing to their full potential without the risk of breaking out and landing in a higher class where they need costly modifications to be competitive.
All eyes will be on defending 2018 champion, Paulo Loureiro as he will defend his tittle now in Class A in his newly acquired BMW F30 335i. Not only will it be a great learning curve for him, but he will have last years Class A champion, David Coetzee (BMW E36 328i Turbo), breathing down his neck. To complicate matters further youngster Kashen Naicker (BMW E90 335i) has proven on numerous occasions last year he is very capable of snatching race wins. Stefano Martinelli (BMW E36 328i Turbo) will also be making a welcome return to the series joining them in the Class A battle.
The Class B battle will see the familiar faces of Germany based Andreas Meier (BMW E36 M3), Jan Eversteyn (BMW E46 M3) and Oz Biagioni (BMW E46 M3). After damaging his new F30 the past weekend at the Passion for Speed event Rick Loureiro (BMW E30 325is) will compete in his beautiful BMW E30 325is. Purchasing the 2018 championship winning car the grid will welcome series newcomer Pieter Lombard (BMW E36 M3 GTS). Even though he has been a club member for a few years and regular competitor in the Time Trials, he might find himself in the deep end amongst the experienced class B competitors.
Plenty familiar faces will appear on the Class C grid this year and is expected to pick up their competitive hard racing where they left off last year. Leading the challenge will be last year's runner up Shane Grobler (BMW E36 330i). His fiercest rivals will come in the form of Craig Ball (BMW E36 M3), Renier Smith (BMW E36 M3), Neil Reynolds (BMW E36 M3), his father Mike Grobler (BMW E39 M5) and Jimmy Tsimenoglou (BMW E36 M3). Another newcomer to the Race Series fold will be prolific racer Rob Gearing (BMW E30 325i).
The Class D grid will see the renowned "Brat Pack" made up of Matthew Wadeley (BMW E36 M3), Nek Makris (BMW E46 328i Turbo), Salvi Gualtieri (BMW E36 328i) and Troy Cochran (BMW E46 330ti) battling closely for class honours.
As the new rules and breakout times will ensure pulling the Class D competitors closer it will also allow for more competitive racing in Class E. Heading up this challenge will be Alan Hilligenn (BMW E36 328i). He will however face a stiff challenge from competitors such as Varish Ganpath (BMW E46 325ci), Rupert Giessing (BMW E36 328i) and Colin Van Son (BMW E36 328i). Another newcomer to be welcomed to the fold this weekend will be Bertie Rietveld (BMW E36 328i) that will start in class E.
With new rules and some new cars and faces, the first round of the 2019 championship season is expected to be explosive as the starting lights turn green for the first race of the season.
Published by: Paul Blackburn
Photography by: Racepics.co.za
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