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Phakisa Freeway – 26-27 May

Rehse extends BMW points lead as Phakisa sees dramatic twists

The BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series reached the midway point of the 2023 season this past weekend (26-27 May), with Dave Rehse extending his lead in the championship.

Friday provided a glimpse of the fast-paced action expected in Class A, with the battle for pole position. Leon Loubser banked the weekend’s fastest lap to secure his third pole position start of the year. A late charge from Bob Neill saw him take second place ahead of William Einkamerer.

However, mechanical issues saw Loubser not taking the start for Race 1, effectively resulting in Class A becoming a two-horse contest after Nishal Singh elected to move to Class B. Neill took the win, but the matter was not concluded just yet. A host of post-race enquiries resulted in the penalty to Neill for passing under yellow flag conditions only being issued as the field lined up for Race 2. With 30 seconds added to his time, this gave Einkamerer the Race 1 victory, something he did not know about until after the second race.

Points leader Loubser was back on the grid for Race 2 and made light work of recording another dominant win, but Einkamerer’s second place saw him secure enough points to take the day. Neill finished the race in third place.

Class B also delivered its fair share of action and surprises. Andreas Meier headed up the field in qualifying, with Lyle Ramsay and Lorenzo Gualtieri behind him. However, a bad start saw Meier relinquish positions to his rivals. Ramsay and Gualtieri were, however, contesting the lead while mixing it up with the Class A battle, while Meier played the waiting game. On the final lap, he capitalised on his rivals squabbling for the lead and surprised the pair by grabbing the front spot with a corner to go. Ramsay crossed the line in second place, but in his early pursuit, he broke into the Class A times and opted to take a 30-second penalty Joker to remain in Class B. This saw Lorenzo and Salvi Gualtieri complete the podium, with Nek Makris recording his first non-podium finish of the year. Oz Biagioni also received a 30-second penalty for jumping the start, which promoted Ramsay to fifth place.

Race 2 saw Ramsay and Makris in a head-to-head battle for the lead, but the red flag was deployed due to Meier and Class C’s Nicholas van Zyl spinning in precarious positions Makris took a narrow victory, his first for 2023, while Ramsay finished as runner up. Renier Smith, Meier and Lorenzo Gualtieri, locked in a good contest at the point of classification, completed the top five. With Makris and Meier scoring equal points on the day, the overall win went to Makris because of his better aggregate time for both races. Makris also took the Driver of the Day award with his solid performance, while Meier retains his Class B points lead.

With the top four in Class C all missing from the weekend’s line-up, the midfield class honours were up for grabs. Anwar Levy started ahead of Jaco Storm and Nicholas Fischer at the front. Van Zyl celebrated his first race back in 11 months with a win. Vigen Naidu crossed the line as runner-up but received a 30-second jump start penalty, which promoted defending series champion Nicholas Fischer to second place. Nick Naidoo, who was just adrift of the pair, completed the podium. Further back, Varish Ganpath finished fourth ahead of Storm, who recovered from a spin in the closing stages.

Van Zyl teetered on the fringes of making it a double for the day when the countback also saw him being the first Class C car, but a Class B lap time also saw him settle for a 30-second Joker and resulted in Jaco Storm’s promotion to the top spot of the podium. With Anwar Levy and Nicholas Fischer in tow, Naidu and Ganpath completed the top five. Like in Class B, Fischer and Storm finished the day tied on points, but Fischer’s better aggregate time saw him win for the day. He now also holds the Class C points lead.

Class D did not see any penalties, breakouts, or countbacks influence the results but produced two different winners in the two races. Neil Reynolds beat Nicholas Herbst and Welkom resident Lenard Archer to the top of the grid. In the first race, Reinhardt Miller made up places at the start to join Reynolds in a battle for the lead. Reynold’s held off the young charger to win, with Archer finishing third. Craig Herbst took fourth place further back, with son Nicholas finishing fifth.

In Race 2, Reinhardt Miller took an early lead over Reynolds to win, with the latter holding off Nicholas Herbst. Further back, Craig Herbst beat Archer in a good tussle for fourth place. With both Miller and Reynolds taking an equal amount of points on the day, the overall win came down to Miller over Reynolds in another tie-breaker similar to Classes B and C . Round 4 also saw him hold onto his points lead in the class.

Class E saw the only double victory for the day, and Rehse’s dominance in the class ended. Debutant Claudio Jardim set Friday’s fastest qualifying time, but with this being the first circuit racing event for the BMW Car Club Gauteng Time Trials graduate, he started both races from the back of the grid. This saw Cobus Bohmer inheriting the pole position in the class, ahead of Mike Grobler, who turned out in the BMW Car Club Gauteng Track Taxi. Rehse was third on the grid.

For Round 4, Arri van Heerden reverted to his BMW E30 325i used in previous years and shot to the front to take a comfortable Race 1 win over Rehse and Bohmer, with the latter pair locked in a battle for the runner-up spot. Further back, Grobler held off Jardim for fourth place. In Race 2, Van Heerden took his second win while Grobler stayed ahead of Rehse. Jardim went one better than before to finish fourth, with Bohmer completing the top five. While Van Heerden took the class win, Rehse extended his lead in both the class and the series.

The second half of the season will start with Round 5 on 23-24 June, with the series returning to Zwartkops Raceway.

Published by: Brandsponential on behalf of BMW Car Club Gauteng

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