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What Global Touring Cars Round 6 Report
Where Killarney International Raceway
When Saturday 9 September 2023
Community South Africa National

Rackstraw & Van der Watt star and Wolk takes GTC advantage

The Global Touring Cars thrilled Cape Town’s as South Africa’s premier circuit racing category delivered in an epic Saturday of racing at Killarney International Raceway. A large and enthusiastic crowd was treated to a home winner, while another local hero conceded his second race win to hand his teammate the championship lead.

Home hero Andrew Rackstraw delivered an epic opening race win off pole position in the first race, before compatriot Julian van der Watt handed his teammate Robert Wolk the second race win and championship lead on a day to forget for Toyota. The intrigue started already in the lead up to the race when the Chemical Logistics Racing swapped its cars and drivers, with title contender Robert Wolk hopping over to the team’s new Chemical Logistics BMW M 128 ti and Cape Town home hero Julian van der Watt taking over Wolk’s Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla Sedan.

But it was another local hero, Andrew Rackstraw who put his Sparco LTR RDSA VW Golf GTC onto pole position by six hundredths of a second from Wolk, a similar distance clear of championship leader Saood Variawa in his Gazoo Racing Toyota Corolla Hatchback. Julian van der Watt lined up alongside Variawa on the second row, with rookies Nathi Msimanga’s Gazoo Corolla and Josh Le Roux in an older specification Master Stairs Investchem Audi S3 GTC next ahead of Michael van Rooyen’s third Gazoo Corolla.

Andrew Rackstraw made the perfect start with title rivals Robert Wolk and Saood Variawa in chase from Nathi Msimanga, Josh Le Roux, a slow starting Julian van der Watt and Michael van Rooyen. Van der Watt and van Rooyen found their way past le Roux, but the big drama was when championship leader Variawa slowed suddenly at mid distance, visited the pits and returned to limp home.

That left Rackstraw to lead Wolk, under pressure from Msimanga to a popular home victory, with van der Watt fourth from van Rooyen. Le Roux followed with the struggling Variawa keeping out of the SupaCup field’s path as he scrounged the points for seventh. That blew the title chase wide open, with Variawa just two points clear of Wolk ahead of the reverse grid second race grid. Which meant that Josh Le Roux started on pole position alongside Michael van Rooyen, and ahead of Julian van der Watt, Nathi Msimanga, Robert Wolk, Andrew Rackstraw and Saood Variawa.

The reverse grid second race is always a Global Touring Car thriller and Killarney would prove no exception. Josh Le Roux had a great start to lead but teammates Julian van der Watt and Robert Wolk were soon past the youngster with Michael van Rooyen also through. Van Rooyen’s race did not last much longer when he stopped out on track.

Nathi Msimanga had meanwhile found a way past race 1 winner Rackstraw as they picked up third and fourth after van Rooyen’s demise. That left the major attraction of the dice for fifth between Josh Le Roux and Saood Variawa. Championship leader now by the slightest of margins, Variawa struggled to find a way past the old school Audi and finally did so on lap 9. By when the rest were long gone. So van der Watt led Wolk, Msimanga, Rackstraw, Variawa and Le Roux and that looked to be the final outcome. Until local hero van der Watt moved over to let new championship leader Wolk through for the win and a vital few extra points.

The upshot of all that was that Robert Wolk took the day to give the new Chemical Logistics BMW a maiden race win, ahead of one of the heroes of the day, local lad Julian van der Watt in his old car. Nathi Msimanga enjoyed a great day to be the first of the Gazoo Toyotas home ahead of the other hero, race 1 winner Andrew Rackstraw. Josh Le Roux ended up fifth for the day from Saood Variawa and Michael van Rooyen.

That leaves new top man Robert Wolk in a three point championship over lead Saood Variawa with two races left to run. Now out of title contention Nathi Msimanga heads the race for third by all of four points over Andrew Rackstraw, with Michael van Rooyen close behind. And Josh Le Roux has a five point advantage over Julian van der Watt, who is fighting back after missing the first three rounds to injury.

All of which means an epic finale looms in five weeks’ time, when the Global Touring Car championship wraps up at Zwartkops Raceway’s Extreme Festival National Finals, Saturday 14 October.

Issued on behalf of Global Touring Cars

Photography by: Abri de Bruyn

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