BTCC: Phakisa Freeway Report

1999 BANKFIN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS 13 AND 14, PHAKISA FREEWAY, WELKOM ACE DAY, 11/9/99 Colin Windell It was an incident-packed baptism for the Bankfin touring car brigade in the first-ever BTCC race at Welkom's impressive new...


Colin Windell

It was an incident-packed baptism for the Bankfin touring car brigade in the first-ever BTCC race at Welkom's impressive new Phakisa Freeway.

Winner after 17 action-packed laps of the short circuit (3,01 km) was Shaun Watson-Smith in the works Petronas Opel Vectra. The reigning national production car champion was the fastest driver in the race, chasing down early leader and pole sitter Marco dos Santos (Nissan Valid Value Primera) before taking the privateer in a controversial move in the second-last corner of the last lap. Dos Santos was pitched into a half spin in the corner and lost two places.

Watson-Smith crossed the finish line 3,1 seconds ahead of reigning touring car champion Giniel de Villiers (BP Nissan Primera) with the unfortunate Dos Santos a further half a second back in third place. De Villiers drove the final five laps without power steering and was inadvertently the cause of the retirement of team-mate Duncan Vos. Fluid from his broken power steering leaked on to the track, causing Vos to spin into retirement on lap 15 while lying fourth behind De Villiers.

Fourth was former champion Terry Moss in the first of the works Engen Audi A4s, ahead of team-mates Chris Aberdein and Anthony Taylor. Aberdein was highly aggrieved about an incident with Mark Peters (BP Nissan Primera) on lap 10 while the Audi driver was attempting to pass the Nissan in the last corner for third place. This resulted in Peters spinning off the circuit into the sand trap and retirement. While Aberdein was passed by Taylor and Moss.

Former champion Michael Briggs was a disappointed seventh in the works. Sasol BMW 318i, ahead of privateers Byron Botha (Motorsport Legends Nissan Sentra), Cliff Wilkinson (Nissan Sentra) and the leading Procar driven by Dawie Botha (Hillbank Honda Ballade) Briggs lost control and went off the circuit on lap four while trying to protect his seventh place from Duncan Vos (BP Nissan Primera). He rejoined the race in 14th place and did well to make up seven places in the next 13 laps.

Team-mate Shaun van der Linde was lying sixth ahead of Vos when he lost control of his BMW and went off the circuit, colliding with the Petronas Opel of Deon Joubert as he rejoined the circuit. Both retired.

If the fans thought the first race was a corker, they were in for an even bigger treat in the second.

Pole sitter Briggs (BMW) led at the end of the first lap from the Opels of Joubert and Watson-Smith, Vos (Nissan), Taylor (Audi) and Dos Santos (Nissan) Joubert went into the lead at the start of lap two and Taylor took Briggs at the end of the fast back straight

Then all hell broke loose in the tight right-hander that followed. Briggs, Vos, Watson-Smith and Van der Linde (BMW) were all involved in a multiple contact. They all got going again but there was more contact in the next corner leading on to the pits straight and when the dust settled Vos's Nissan was stranded in the middle of the circuit.

The race was red-flagged at the end of the third lap when marshals were unable to move the crippled Nissan to safety. The order was Joubert, Taylor, Dos Santos, Van der Linde, Moss (Audi), Aberdein (Audi), Peters (Nissan) and Watson-Smith.

Joubert led the restarted race, held over 14 laps, for the first nine laps before Dos Santos went ahead and crossed the line first at the finish. When the results of the two races were combined it was an elated Joubert who took the honours by 2,7 seconds from Dos Santos.

It was Opel's second win of the day and their first two wins since Grant McCleery won in a super touring Opel Vectra at Kyalami in June 1996. It was Joubert's first touring car win since he won in a BMW in 1995 Moss, who was sixth at the end of another incident filled battle (he and Van der Linde clashed while the BMW driver was leading him on lap seven), found himself third overall on combined times. Team-mate Aberdein was fourth on combined times after finishing fifth.

First Procar on combined times was Hastie in his privateer Nissan, ahead of Bezuidenhout's similar car and Hendrik Verwoerd in the guest Nissan Sentra.

SOUTH AFRICAN TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP, ROUNDS 13 & 14, PHAKISO FREEWAY (ZA), 2 x 17 LAPS, 51,17 KM, SEP 11, Race 1 1. Shaun Watson-Smith (Opel Vectra) 22m 23,57s; 2. Giniel de Villiers (Nissan Primera) 22m 26,73s; 3. Marco dos Santos (Nissan Primera) 22m 27,20s; 4. Terry Moss (Audi A4) 22m 33,86s; 5. Chris Aberdein (Audi A4) 22m 34,83s; 6. Anthony Taylor (Audi A4) 22m 35,53s; 7. Michael Briggs (BMW 318i) 22m 44,32s; 8. Byron Botha (Nissan Sentra) 23m 03,43s; 9. Cliff Wilkinson (Nissan Sentra) 23m 08,92s; 10. Dawie Joubert (Honda Ballade) 23m 22,75s. Fastest lap: Watson-Smith, 1m 17,08s.

Race 2 1. Deon Joubert 22m 07,45s; 2. Marco Dos Santos 22m 10,19s; 3. Terry Moss 22m 22,89s; 4. Chris Aberdein 22m24,37s; 5. Shaun Van der Linde 22m 26,73s; 6. Shaun Watson-Smith 22m 37,60s; 7. Mike Briggs 22m 42,31s; 8. Mark Peters 23m 01,62s; 9. Byron Botha (Nissan) 23m 02,26s; 10. Cliff Wilkinson (Nissan) 23m 04,45s. Fastest lap: Van der Linde, 1 min 16,58s (new lap record).

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS Touring Car Drivers 1 De Villiers 176; 2 Dos Santos 110; 3 Vos 106; 3 Van der Linde 104; 5 Peters 82; 6 Taylor 74; 7 Briggs 70; 8 Watson-Smith 64; 9 Deon Joubert 60; 10 Aberdein 58. Manufacturers 1 Nissan 454; 2 Audi 175; 3 BMW 155; 4 Opel 122; 5 Toyota 13; 6 Honda 4. Procar Challenge 1 Bezuidenhout 136; 2 Hastie 101; 3 Dawie Joubert 79; 4 Da Cunha 58; 5 Martin 44. ends

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Series BTCC
Drivers Giniel de Villiers , Shaun Watson-Smith , Duncan Vos