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Rookie Tate Bishop overcame several challenges at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit to finish in an impressive fourth overall on debut as the opening round of the Global Touring Cars (GTC) SupaCup commenced on 23-25 February.

Making his first appearance at the Johannesburg circuit, Bishop, a multiple-karting champion and one of South Africa’s brightest teenage prospects, surmounted several trials to head back home as the leading rookie driver in the field. One of the difficulties he had to trounce was the lack of seat time, with effectively only one session available to familiarise himself with the course and set up the car. The second practice session barely got underway before a crash saw the session red-flagged and halted, leaving Bishop with 11 laps to his name, some of which were under caution. Regardless, the ANGRi Racing VW Supa Polo driver and instructor at the ANGRi Racing Kart Academy got on with the task.

Qualifying on Friday morning would see him start the opening race that afternoon from fifth on the grid, where he would eventually finish on the track. However, two competitors used the push-to-pass feature on the opening lap, breaching the rules and being penalised, allowing Bishop to record a podium (third) finish on debut.

In Race 2 on Saturday morning, Bishop was hit and sent off track on the opening lap. After an initial struggle, he returned to the circuit as the race restarted behind the safety car, with the lanky teenager approximately six seconds behind the second-last competitor. Over the next eight laps, he gradually reduced the gap to the group ahead, overtaking several cars before finishing fifth. After the two results were combined, Bishop finished fourth overall in trying circumstances.

“I think I now understand the term ‘Baptism of Fire’,” said Bishop. “Arriving here on Thursday morning, we had everything planned out only to have one session to understand everything. With the second session of no value, the first part of qualifying was pretty much another practice for me. Even in the race, I was still trying to find the car’s limits. Two good results considering the challenges we faced with our home race up next. Definitely looking forward to that one as we know we can be quick there,”

Bishop extends his thanks to ANGRi Racing, GAP Motorsport and Sparco. Round 2 of the championship will continue on 17-18 March at the Killarney International Raceway, Cape Town.

Published by:  Motorsport Fanatix – Raymond Cornwell

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