Sandton, South Africa – The second round of the Sasol GTC Championship heads to Killarney International Raceway on Saturday 21 April and if the opening round at Kyalami is anything to go by, Western Cape fans are going to be thrilled by the new generation GTC cars.
The cars now feature engines producing up to 500 bhp in qualifying trim which should see the cars slash around 1.5 seconds a lap from their previous time around the 3.2km long circuit while hitting around 250km/h down the long back straight.
Such is the competitive nature of Sasol GTC racing, motorsport fans can expect entertainment from the top drawer as the early championship leader Gennaro Bonafede aims to extend his form at a track that has been kind to him in the past. After banking the first win of the season, the Sasol BMW GTC driver added a second place to his scorecard to open up a marginal five point gap over Simon Moss in his Engen Audi GTC, who ran out the winner of race two at Kyalami last month.
Michael van Rooyen lies third in the standings after pulling out all the stops to take his best qualifying position in his GTC career and taking his second-ever podium result which suggests both he and his team have come to grips with his RSC BMW GTC.
The ‘other’ Michael, Stephen – the double Sasol GTC Champion – is a further three points behind thanks to a second place finish in the first race at Kyalami. He was an innocent victim of a spectacular accident which befell Capetonian Johan Fourie and was classified a non-finisher. Stephen, the team leader in the Audi squad, has 13 championships to his name and will pull out all the stops to close the gap to Bonafede.
Fourie, Cape Town’s favourite son, will be back with a vengeance in his EPS Couriers BMW GTC with a point to prove and points to earn around the challenging track. Volkswagen will be well in the mix as seen by Mathew Hodges’ superb performance last month. He raced through to second place in his VW Jetta GTC while Daniel Rowe, in the second factory Jetta GTC, drove his heart out to catch the leaders after being tipped into a spin in the first race. The Volkswagen’s pace is up with the rest of the pack so expect the sparks to fly as the top drivers in SA’s premier touring car series do battle against the backdrop of table Mountain.
After qualifying on the front row of the grid and racing away in second place, Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) will be on a mission to get his scorecard ticking over after a mechanical gremlin put him on the sidelines at Kyalami.
The front-wheel drive class has already produced its share of paint-swapping racing as the Volkswagen versus MINI battle rages unabated.
While Keagan Masters drove his factory Golf GTi to victory in race one at the first round, it was the turn of Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo MINI John Cooper Works) to cross the line first in the second race and take a five point log lead with Mr. Consistency, Trevor Bland in his Universal healthcare Golf GTi, slotting into second place in the standings.
Charl Smalberger (UniChip Golf GTi) is feeling the heat with Masters lurking four points adrift, in turn two points ahead of Devin Robertson in the Champion-backed MINI JCW. With all five drivers proven race winners, the hot-hatch war is getting hotter.
Newcomer Reno van Heerden (Hot Wheels Ford Focus ST) earned a workmanlike 24 points on his debut, to lead the second factory Volkswagen and Kyocera-backed driver, Adrian Wood, by two points, tied with Capetonian Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda Civic Type-R) who raced to a career best fourth last time out.
Iain Stevenson should return to the cockpit of his Comsol Honda Civic handed his car over to Gavin Cronje at Kyalami to draw on his vast experience to further develop the Honda.
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Published by: Gary Formato
Photography by: Dave Ledbitter
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