The Killarney motor racing circuit in Cape Town again proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Exa Nissan Dealer Team, whose Marco da Cunha won the fourth and final sprint race in a Tubular/R&A Cellular Nissan 350Z in the second round of the Bridgestone Production Car Championship on Saturday.
Da Cunha scored a maiden production car win in the corresponding round of last year’s championship and was delighted to have posted his first victory of the new season.
“We knew we had a good chance of getting on the podium this weekend,” said team manager Grant van Schalkwyk. “The advantage our more powerful turbo- and supercharged rivals have over us at altitude is considerably reduced at the coast. Combined with the fact that the tight Killarney circuit favours the Nissan and its superior handling qualities, encouraged us to pull out all the stops for this weekend’s encounter.”
Da Cunha did well to qualify the elderly Nissan sixth for the first of the four six-lap sprint races and his fifth place in the first race was about as much as he could expect, although he was pressuring fourth-placed Melvill Priest in a twin turbo BMW 335 at the end and finished just three tenths of a second behind.
“I knew I had a great chance to win race two as the reverse grid arrangement put me on the front row alongside Tschops Sipuka (Audi A4 quattro) on pole,” said Da Cunha. Unfortunately he ended up the meat in a Priest BMW/Johan Fourie Audi sandwich as they exited the second corner three abreast on the opening lap. The resultant bent front bodywork fouling a wheel resulted in the Nissan driver being forced to call it quits before even completing a lap.
The Exa Nissan Dealer Team worked hard between races to replace the damaged bodywork and prepare the car for the third and fourth races, which were also run back to back. Da Cunha started sixth in race three and finished in the same position.
Race four saw him in the favoured pole position on the reverse grid and he took full advantage to lead the six laps from start to finish. He did very well to hold off a hard-charging Priest for the first four laps and then a very determined Fourie before crossing the finish line 0,901 sec ahead of the Audi.
Younger brother Paulo, at the wheel of a second Tubular/R&A Cellular Nissan 350Z, qualified ninth for race one and enjoyed a best result of sixth in race two, with two sevenths and an eighth in the other races.