Cape Town debutant Nian du Toit conquered the opening round of the 2024 BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series this past weekend (26-27 January) on his first visit to the Zwartkops International World of Motoring, by bagging every point available, while a host of dramatic events played out around him.
Class A & C
Du Toit, who made a once-off appearance in the BMW E46 M3 Turbo formerly piloted by Elwyn Steenkamp, took the Dunlop Pole Position in only his second session around the circuit to head up Class A ahead of the Defending Champion Leon Loubser. Series debutant Anthony Pretorius impressed with third place ahead of Fabio Fedetto, who moved back into Class A.
Former Class B duo Jaco Storm and Oz Biagioni locked out the Class C front row. Ryan Naicker broke into Class B earlier in the day, but significantly modifying his BMW E46 335i allowed him to move back into the Class C field, where he secured third place.
In Race 1, Du Toit was unstoppable at the front while building up an advantage over Loubser, with the latter doing the same over the rest of the field. Pretorius crossed the line ahead of Fedetto in third, but the positions were inverted after Pretorius received a 30-second penalty for jumping the start.
Biagioni appeared to win Class C with a margin of comfort over the tussle for the runner-up spot, but he broke into Class B in the process. This saw Naicker take the honours after holding off Rob Gearing and Jan Eversteyn. Further back, Hein van der Merwe beat Gary Martins to fourth place. Storm, who finished last following an incident, also broke out in the process of regaining lost ground.
In the second race, Du Toit beat Loubser off the inverted grid again, with Pretorius taking his maiden podium ahead of Fedetto.
Class C provided another good contest up front, with Van der Merwe looking dominant before Gearing took the lead and the win. Van der Merwe held Naicker off for second place. Just adrift of them, Eversteyn took fourth after jostling with Martins, who made it two fifth places for Round 1.
Du Toit took the overall win in Class A, four points clear of Loubser, and the 11-point tie for third was broken in Fedetto’s favour due to a better-accumulated race time.
Gearing took the Class C honours, one point clear of Naicker, who finished four points clear of Van der Merwe. Gearing’s consistency in the competitive Class C battle also saw him take the ITOO Driver of the Day award.
Class B, D & E
Former multiple Champion Andreas Meier took the ATS Motorsport Pole Position for the second group to head the Class B grid. Defending Class Champion Nek Makris joined him on the front row. Carlo Garbini, who last competed in 2023’s second round, lined up third.
Nishal Singh set the fastest Class D time ahead of Reinhardt Miller, who found himself back in the class after an eventful Thursday in which the turbo on his new BMW E36 328i broke during the unofficial practice sessions. This saw him revert to his BMW E36 M3 and rejoin Class D. George Economides lined up in third place.
Debutant Cristiano Verolini headed the Class E grid, with Zaheer Seedat in second place. Stefano Cavalieri, who also made his debut, lined up in third place.
Meier made a good start in Race 1, with Makris and Garbini in tow. However, just after the midway mark, the race was stopped after Anton Pommersheim’s E36 M3 Turbo speared off the track and over the barrier at the fastest point of the circuit, Turn 4. This resulted in one of the marshals being hospitalised, but no fatalities. It also resulted in a delay to repair the barrier. The cause of the incident will be determined at a later point. When the race was stopped, Meier, Singh and Cristiano Verolini led Classes B, D & E, respectively.
After the restart, Meier crossed the line first ahead of Makris, Garbini and Gualtieri, with the quartet retaining their position in the aggregate classification for Parts 1 and 2.
Singh and Miller were the first to cross the line in Class D, but both drivers broke into Class C in Part 1 of the race. Economides was the next to take the flag but lost out to French debutant Ludovic Caron, who recorded a better aggregate time and took his maiden win. Craig Herbst, Claudio Jardim and Cobus Bohmer were the next to finish, but Nicholas Herbst’s superb show in Part 1 gave him the final podium spot, ahead of Bohmer and Neil Reynolds.
The top three in Class E, Verolini and fellow debutants Roland Hopkins and Jakkie Storm, all broke into Class D. This saw Seedat take his maiden win ahead of Arri van Heerden and Farhaad Ebrahim. This trio held onto their on-track positions in the aggregate classification.
Significant delays throughout the day’s packed roster, rapidly changing weather conditions, and changes to the running order saw the second race reduced to eight laps and starting in overcast, wet, and nearly dark conditions. However, only four laps were completed before the race was stopped on account of force majeure. Gualtieri, Reynolds and Shaun Dodd led the respective classes at that point, but with the minimum distance to constitute a result not completed. With the race nullified, competitors received a double points payout based on their Race 1 results.
Round 2 of the 2024 BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series will be held at Zwartkops Raceway on 1.2 March and will mark the third consecutive visit to the circuit.
BMW Car Club Gauteng, the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series, and all associate partners want to wish all personnel who sustained injuries in Round 1 a speedy and complete recovery.
Published by: Reynard Geldebrlom
Photography by: Jason Hanslo and Willie Pretorius
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