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Global Touring Cars stun lively Killarney Extreme Festival crowd

What    Global Touring Cars Round 2 Report
Where    Killarney International Raceway
When    Saturday 18 March 2023
Community    South Africa National

Killarney’s Global Touring Car races were almost all about championship leaser Saood Variawa, who scored pole position, the first race win and two fastest laps to take the day in front of an enthusiastic crowd. But Cape Town’s hearts were with home hero Andrew Rackstraw, who drove to an epic maiden GTC victory in the second race. Double champion Robert Wolk endured a weekend to forget, although he did score consistent and valuable points.

There was drama on Friday when championship leader Variawa’s Gazoo Racing Toyota Corolla GTC suffered engine failure. But all was forgotten after the team swapped the engine and Variawa emerged on top of a Toyota Corolla GTC grid 1-2-3 block out by just seventeen thousandths of a second from Robert Wolk’s Chemical Logistics car. Rookie Polo Cup graduate Nathi Msimanga’s second Gazoo machine impressed in third, five hundredths clear of local lad Andrew Rackstraw’s Sparco RDSA VW Golf GTC, Michael van Rooyen’s third Gazoo Corolla and Josh le Roux’s Investchem Vitro Audi A3 GTC.    

The first race was tight, if a little static up front as Variawa kept Wolk and Msimanga at bay, the three of them never much more than a second away from the next. Andrew Rackstraw passed Michael van Rooyen early on before Michael’s unhappy car stopped. And Josh le Roux planted his Audi deep in the turn 5 kitty litter early enough to report for an early shower.

Race 2 was a far more entertaining affair. Andrew Rackstraw led off the reverse race grid, but a feisty Nathi Msimanga made a solid move to lead Rackstraw and Variawa. Michael van Rooyen struggled as he ran in fourth further back with Robert Wolk fighting to makeup distance after a first lap slip, with the recovered Le Roux in pursuit. But Rackstraw was having none of it as he fought his way back past Msimanga in a stunning move to leave his Gazoo Racing rivals Nathi and Variawa fighting over second.

That was enough breathing space to see the delighted 2021 South African Investchem Formula 1600 champion Andrew race off to his maiden GTC win to the rapturous applause of his family, friends, and fans. Variawa won his battle with an inspired and impressive Msimanga to take second to add a few more points to his title leading tally. Champion Robert Wolk’s brave if lonely effort paid off as he caught and passed van Rooyen for fourth to minimise the championship damage and put a little silver lining on a tough weekend, with Le Roux in chase in sixth.

So Variawa took the day by all of nine tenths of a second from Rackstraw, Msimanga and Wolk, and the troubled van Rooyen and Le Roux. Saood also takes a handy provisional 16-point advantage into round 3 over Wolk. Rackstraw has jumped to third in the chase, a single point behind ,while Msimanga has played himself into contention ahead of van Rooyen and Le Roux.

With two new cars in build, one which will plausibly be ready for champion Wolk to drive, and the injured Julian van der Watt threatening to return in his Chemical Logistics Ford Focus for that third round, Saturday 20 May’s Global Touring Car races could very well be a horse of a different colour. Diarise Zwartkops now for that day!

Issued on behalf of Global Touring Cars

Photography by:  Abri de Bruyn

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