Team Afrox ended the 2013 Bridgestone South African Production Car Championship on a high note with a win and a second in race two and a second and a third in race one at Kyalami on Saturday.
Starting from third and fifth on the grid for the opening six-lap sprint race, Anthony Taylor and Etienne van der Linde went on to finish second and third respectively in their Afrox BMW M Performance Parts BMW 335i class A cars behind the Subaru Impreza of Hennie Groenewald.
Van der Linde made a great start from the second row of the grid in the second of the back-to-back sprint races, which saw the top four finishers from race one line-up in reverse order. He led the field into the first corner closely followed by team-mate Taylor and this is how they stayed to the finish, beating 2013 champion Michael Stephen (Audi S4) into third place, five seconds in arrears.
The third and final race of the season, scheduled for eight laps of the 4,2-kilometre Kyalami grand prix circuit, started in the gathering gloom and light rain of a rapidly approaching electric storm and was declared a wet race, conditions that favoured the all-wheel drive cars. The conditions deteriorated as the race progressed and it was eventually red-flagged after six laps, with the results declared as they stood at the end of lap five.
Taylor, slowed by the lack of traction in the wet conditions as well as a misted-up windscreen, was the first of the rear-wheel drive cars in sixth place with team-mate Van der Linde seventh. Gennaro Bonafede, who has started from 10th on the grid, won the race in an all-wheel drive Audi.
“It was not much fun,” remarked Taylor. “There was little grip for the tyres in the wet with standing water all around the circuit. The car was aquaplaning under braking and from about the third lap I couldn’t see anything out of the windscreen. I had to open the door a few times to help clear it.”
“The programme was running over an hour late when we started and unfortunately a typical Highveld electric storm spoilt what could have been a great end to the season,” said Van der Linde. “The conditions were dangerous and they could have stopped the race even earlier. It was a shame, because we had a good day in the dry and were looking forward to another strong performance by both BMWs.”
Team manager Donovan van Heerden was not dismayed. “We showed great pace in the dry and Etienne gave us our eighth race win of the season before the rain came down. We’ve got a great package in the Afrox BMW M Performance Parts BMW 335i and we look forward to developing it further in preparation for the 2013 season.”
He paid tribute to Anthony Taylor’s contribution to the team he helped establish on the multiple former champion’s final curcuit racing appearance. “Sadly, Anthony has decided to retire from track racing and concentrate on his successful off road racing career. He has been a stalwart of the team and the benchmark for all the other drivers who have ever driven alongside him as his team-mate. He has been much more than a driver and has contributed massively to the respected status the team enjoys today.
“We will miss him, but we are hoping to announce that another former champion will be joining the team in 2013.”
Van Heerden also paid tribute to the team’s sponsors: “Without the support of our principal sponsor Afrox and the additional backing from BMW M Performance Parts, EPS Courier Services, Castrol and Akrapovic Exhaust Systems we could not have achieved what we did this past season.”