The Sasol GTC Championship returns to Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria for round six of the touring car series with some epic door-handle-to-door-handle racing in prospect on Saturday, 12th August.
The two championship contenders, Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) and Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) have been trading blows throughout the series so far, going so far as to tangle with each other at the last round in Port Elizabeth. Bonafede has four victories and four other podium finishes on his scorecard to head the title chase by 29 points from the current Sasol GTC Champion.
Stephen, with five victories and one second place finish to his credit will be aiming to reduce the points gap, while Bonafede is out to grow his margin. The racing between these two modern-day gladiators is going to be intense and the winners will be the enthusiastic race fans who pack the grandstands come raceday.
The Sasol GTC Championship is anything but a two-horse race: Robert Wolk, in the second Sasol BMW GTC, is the latest driver to win a round of the competitive series. On his home track, he is confident of another good showing and aiming to move up from sixth in the championship order, while Simon Moss, in the sister Engen Audi GTC, has led races but has yet to cross the finishing line in first place. His maiden GTC victory is not far away, and the 2.4km Pretoria circuit could be the venue where he delivers.
Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) is fourth in the standings. The popular Capetonian has been a consistent runner with five podium results. A non-finish at the last round brought him within reach of the first of the Volkswagen factory-entered Jettas GTCs driven by Mathew Hodges who is 11 points behind the BMW privateer. Hodges is the only other driver to have won a round of the Sasol GTC Championship since the inception of the series last year.
Behind Wolk in the standings is Daniel Rowe in the second factory VW Jetta GTC. Rowe has endured a great deal of bad luck and is due a change in fortune to improve on his best result to date which is a fourth place. Michael van Rooyen, aka the “Rustenburg Rocket” had his best GTC outing in Port Elizabeth last month in his brightly painted RSC BMW GTC and came within one corner of his first-ever podium, something he will want to put right at the Sasol Raceday.
Close racing amongst the two-litre, turbopetrol-engined hot hatches is assured as a resumption of the VW Golf GTi vs. MINI John Cooper Works continues unabated. GTC2 has seen the closest qualifying margin of the year, one-thousandth of a second and the closest race finish, two-tenths of a second so this class is likely to have the crowd on its feet.
Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi) has a comfortable championship lead although he has come under intense pressure from the Signature Motorsport-run Ferodo MINI JCW driven by teenager Brad Liebenberg. Between them they have won seven of the ten races to date, providing scintillating racing all over the country.
Pictures: David Ledbitter