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Article Local motoring journo wins championship

The BMW Car Club Gauteng Race Series Championship, one of the fastest growing and most exciting grassroots race series in the country, was wrapped up by local resident Mark Jones in his SavSpeed built and prepared BMW E36 328i, after the last event of the year, at Kyalami, recently.

The series forms part of the Northern Region’s category of MSA racing, and carries fields in excess of 25 of the fastest BMWs on race tar today, and takes in tracks like Kyalami, Zwartkops, Midvaal and Phakisa throughout the year. After a tough start to his racing career last year, when fighting for the lower places on the grid was the order of the day, Jones, who earns his daily keep by pushing road cars to their limits as Road Test Editor for the Citizen Motoring, teamed up with racing legend and BMW specialist Sav Gualtieri, of SavSpeed, with a view to turning things around in 2013.

The team at SavSpeed set upon his car and put the machine on a strict diet, by removing all excess weight and then adding a healthy dose of power that not only had the Class C competition, where Jones entered the car, scratching their heads, but many of the bigger Class A and B competitors left behind, wondering what had happened.

In only his second year as a pukka race car driver, Jones had a stellar season by winning four of the eight championship races and finishing as runner-up in three.

The only blot was when he was punted in the second race, at the Midvaal circuit, early in the year and subsequently lost the plot and went off the track at high speed and straight into retirement for the day a lap later.

This little mishap apart, Jones needed to take two wins at the season ending meeting, at Kyalami, to not only wrap up his class championship, but, surprisingly, also the overall championship.

Once the dust had settled, Jones had done exactly what was expected of him, by qualifying for pole and bringing the car home for the double win.

Jones said: “It was a highly emotional year, coming from the lows of last year to the highs of this year.

“I set myself modest goals, but each time we took the car out we set fastest class laps at the various tracks, with the car just getting better and better.

“I would like to say it was all down to raw talent, but the true key to my success was not only having a reliable monster of a car, it was the constant behind the scenes mentoring of Sav that separated me from the rest and prepared me for each race day.”

For more on the race series visit www.bmwcarclub.co.za.

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