Gennaro Bonafede is one of South African racing’s brightest talents. His debut season in his Ferodo Golf GTI in Bridgestone Production Cars Class T set tongues wagging, and his second overall championship finish – that was well deserved after some competitive and excellent driving. 2011 will definitely see Gennaro challenging for Class T honours.
Studying and racing competitively must have been quite challenging?
How did you cope? At first it was definitely a huge struggle in 1st year and especially studying Engineering at the University of Pretoria its certainly isn’t a degree at which I have a lot of spare time. So 1st year and 2nd year became a serious battle, but now in 3rd year I have learnt ways of using the time I have to study when its time to study, and race when its time to race! Although I do find my mind thinking of racing a lot! haha
What was it like growing up with your dad Vito Rallying, were you at a lot of the Rallys?
Is there where the Motorsport bug bit? Well hows this, my birthdate was made premature by 2 days so that my dad could be at my birth instead of a rally, so I guess you could say it had bitten me before I was even born! I used to love going to the rally’s when I was younger, causing havoc in the Service Park! At the age of 5 my dad got me into a go-kart and from then on its been deep in my veins!
What is it like racing against the likes of Graham Nathan and Gary Formato?
These drivers are both of the most experienced drivers in the country, Gary has been overseas many times and done great things there and Graeme has won many championships and certainly is a formidable competitor! I have learnt a lot about race craft from these drivers as well as many others. It was great to have raced door to door with them last year the whole year and on into this year!
Obviously having come 2nd last year in my first season in Bridgestone Production Cars in the Ferodo VW Golf GTI I need to go one better in 2011! I need to now really dig down and take the fight to the rest of the pack! Theres no time like the present.
What are your racing ambitions and what is for you the next step in your racing career?
Well I think for me the next step is to move into Class A, which I hope to do soon while I am still young and have lots to learn! Then after that, once I have my Engineering Degree I want to move overseas and work and race over there, look at the Porsche Supercup or something of that level (Budget permitting) but this is the plan! I hope to have a long career in motorsport.
What was it like racing in Germany in the ADAC Polo Cup?
This was an experience I will never forget, driving at Hockenheim with 60 000 fans in the stands! The car was easier to drive then the local VW Polo but only having one practice session made it very hard to really learn the car and track! If I went there again I feel like I could challenge the Top 3 for sure!
Who are and were your racing inspirations?
Obviously having started in karting, Leeroy Poulter was highly influential in my karting career as it made my driving style smooth and direct which I feel has set me up very nicely going forward into bigger things. Iain Pepper took me under his wing in the Engen VW Cup and he helped me adapt to the change of driving from karting to the VW Polo. My biggest inspiration and someone who is working with me now is Derick Irving. His ability to be so smooth and mental strength is something to be admired and having won 17 SA Championships I mean who else can say they have more??
Of course! From the day I got too big for karting I have been looking at getting into it. The main issue is the money needed to start rallying, at the moment we don’t see the return on having to spend money to get into an A5 car. But VW have a big rally interest, so let’s see where that goes and hopefully for my sake I will create and acquire that opportunity! Many of the track stars have succeeded highly in rallying.
Man thank you so much for these questions! I really enjoyed reading them! Please can I ask that when you do the write up or intro or whatever to please mention Ferodo Racing! They support me big time and if it wasnt for them I wouldnt be where I am…
2012 Follow up
How was your 2011 racing season?
Very tough, a lot of bad luck and issues caused me a few problems, to think we were leading the Championship halfway through the year and to end up in 3rd it was a bit disappointing.
What are your expectations for 2012?
We must go for the gold! I have some sort of good feeling about this year, I’ve been training hard off track and the Ferodo Racing team have worked long hours!
What has been your biggest challenge going into 2012?
I’d have to say Gary Formato and Graeme Nathan. Those two “experienced” drivers have done very well in the past but we’re up for the challenge this year!
Who do you think was the best local racing driver in 2011?
Shew this is a very tough decision, there are so many drivers doing so well. I’d say that Michael Steven had a mega year to take the Class A title! Also Leeroy Poulter had a great 1st season in S2000 Rallying!
Where is your next event? And where can people find out information on you or the racing series you participate in? Next round of the Wesbank Super Series is at Killarney in Cape Town, 31st March! Either follow me on Twitter @Bonafede32 or go to www.gennarofede.co.za , www.productioncars.co.za or www.wesbanksuperseries.co.za
Your pick to win this year’s WRC and F1 titles?
Sheesh, to be honest I back Lewis Hamilton this year, the Mclaren looks great and if he can sort out his personal life he has the talent to win! In the WRC, we were fortunate to be in Monte Carlo for the 1st Round! The Ford team look much stronger this year but I have to say, Sebastian Loeb still looks favourite, the man is incredible! Watch out for Sebastian Ogier in the VW Polo WRC car for 2013 though, that team are going to enter the scene on a strong front foot!