Crowd entertaining and highly competitive racing has been the hallmark of the new-generation Sasol GTC Championship cars in the first two rounds of the season and more of the same can be expected when Zwartkops Raceway hosts round three of the series.
The races scheduled for Saturday, May 13th will be the first opportunity for Pretoria motorsport fans to witness the 500bhp cars which should prove a handful for the country’s top touring car drivers around the tight and twisty circuit.
Seven of the eight drivers in the GTC class have won races – most recently Daniel Rowe joined this elite group – making predictions virtually impossible in the closely-contested series.
Simon Moss (Engen Audi GTC) has come of age this year and is the only double race winner to date; he leads the championship log by five points from Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) who won the season’s opening race but had a muted day out in Cape Town last month. With Moss having one eye on the title and Bonafede looking to make up ground, the sparks are bound to fly when the lights go green.
The defending champion Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) has yet to win a race this year although he has banked three second place finishes from the four races held so far. He lies third in the standings, 11 points behind his young team-mate, a situation he hopes to rectify at Zwartkops.
Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) is the season’s most improved driver with both strong qualifying and race performances. Having banked two podium results, the “Rustenburg Rocket” is just five points behind Stephen on the log and can be counted on to deliver another strong result.
The Volkswagen Motorsport-entered Jetta GTCs have shown tremendous pace this year with Daniel Rowe claiming a well-judged maiden victory in Cape Town last month while Mathew Hodges banked a runner-up finish at Kyalami in March. Both VW drivers want to improve their positions in the title standings, especially Hodges who has borne the brunt of the team’s bad luck.
Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) put in a feisty drive at Killarney to show his rivals he is as racy as ever and should be in the mix for victory at round three.
The luckless Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) has endured a trying start to his season recording two non-finishes from four races. He is extremely quick and given a helping hand from Lady Luck, could claim victory on race day.
Trevor Bland (Universal Healthcare Volkswagen Golf GTi) leads the standings in spite of not winning a race so far; his consistency has seen him rack up healthy points with four podiums from four races so far.
In spite of racing to three victories this year, the GTC2 champion Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi) is only second on the leaderboard, albeit just two points adrift of Bland. He dominated his class in Cape Town and is very much the form man in the series. Expect a close race at the front of the crowded GTC2 pack come raceday.
Signature Motorsport’s MINI twins Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo) and Devin Robertson (Champion) are third and fourth in the title chase and should be closer to the VWs given the tight nature of the Zwartkops track.
Charl Smalberger (UniChip VW Golf GTi) and factory VW driver Adrian Wood (Kyocera Golf GTi) are in close attendance on the points table so a solid drive from either could see their positions swapped around. Smalberger is a regular podium finisher and should shine on his home circuit.
Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda Civic Type-R) had his best outing yet at Killarney and could spring a surprise on the Highveld while series newcomer Johan Pretorius (Universal Healthcare VW Golf GTi) continues to learn the intricacies of GTC2 racing.
The popular fan grid walk is scheduled for 11h40 just ahead of the first 12 lap race which starts at 11h55. The second race takes place at 14h50.
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Picture: Dave Ledbitter