South Africa’s premier circuit racing category, the Sasol GTC Championship, arrives at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit next week for the second round of the 2017 season.
Having begun the championship in Cape Town last month, the exciting 2.0-litre turbocharged cars in the GTC class will set the pace at the Kyalami Motorsport Festival with championship leader Gennaro Bonafede (#32) looking to capitalise on his great season start in his Sasol-backed BMW 2 Series GTC.
Bonafede won the first two races at Killarney International Raceway, but defending Sasol GTC champion Michael Stephen (#1) and team mate Simon Moss (#38) are ready to take their Terry Moss Racing-built Engen Xtreme Audi A3 GTC’s to the front to ensure Bonafede does not make winning a habit this season.
Moss took two well-earned second places in Cape Town, after a thrilling battle with local man Johan Fourie (#14), and comprehensively outperformed Stephen who was plagued by issues all weekend.
The EPS Couriers-backed BMW 2 Series GTC of multiple SA racing champion Fourie will also be looking to dominate proceedings in Gauteng, after pleasing his home town crowd at Killarney with two solid third places.
The two works Volkswagen Jetta GTC’s, piloted by Matthew Hodges (#57) and last year’s GTC2 champion Daniel Rowe (#11) will also want to put their Killarney maladies behind them and get some podium positions on the board.
Sasol BMW newcomer Robert Wolk will want to use his vast experience at Kyalami to start making a name for himself in the series, and doing his level best to ensure team mate Bonafede does not walk away with all the spoils.
After a weekend to forget at Killarney, Michael van Rooyen (#95) will be looking for a happier outing at Kyalami in his distinctive looking green and yellow liveried Rustenburg Steel Construction-backed BMW GTC car.
Despite the impressive upgrades to the Kyalami circuit for last year’s event, the technical layout is always a test for the teams and drivers alike, as will be the case again next weekend.
Last year, six of the seven GTC cars qualified within a second of each other, as they did at Killarney last month, which sets the scene for more spectacular racing and close competition.
The newly named GTC2 class for production-based 1.6-litre forced induction cars is also providing hugely entertaining racing.
The newly arrived Signature Motorsport-prepared MINI John Cooper Works Team had a tough start to their season when young talent Brad Liebenberg (#12) crashed his Ferodo-backed MINI into the wall in the morning warm up at Killarney, heavily damaging the car and ending his race day on the spot.
Now repaired, Liebenberg will want to put the misdemeanour behind him and prove his worth against a tough field of opponents, including team mate and last year’s Polo Cup champion Christopher Shorter (#33).
The GTC2 field is led by 17-year-old Volkswagen factory driver Keagan Masters who won both Killarney heats in thrilling style in his VW Golf GTi. His race-long duels with Trevor Bland (#5 TB Racing VW Golf GTi) and fellow VW works driver Mandla Mdakane (#44) will be eagerly anticipated at Kyalami, as they had the Killarney crowd on the edge of their seats with their multiple passes and close finishes; Masters eventually winning by a mere tenth of a second.
Charl Smalberger (#15 VW Golf GTi), who drove to a solid third place overall in Cape Town despite tangling with GTC competitor Johan Fourie on the final lap of racing, is another strong contender, along with Shorter in his Champion MINI who will be hoping that his brand new car will be properly run in now and ready to take on the VW Golf GTis.
Devon Piazza Musso (#25) in his Kalex VW Golf GTi will want to emulate his father, uncle and Grandfather’s successes in South African motorsport which date back almost 50 years. Piazza Musso will be chased hard by Ian Stevenson (#69), also piloting a VW Golf GTi in Comsol colours. With an encouraging GTC2 field full of hungry, talented youngsters, it bodes well for the future of the series which acts as a feeder class to the main GTC category. Volkswagen Motorsport’s Daniel Rowe has already successfully stepped up this year from GTC2 into the works Volkswagen Jetta GTC.
Round 2 of the Sasol GTC Championship, part of the Kyalami Motorsport Festival, will be held on Saturday April 22, with race day consisting of two GTC heats at 12.20pm and 2.40pm, and qualifying earlier in the day at 9.05am. Entry tickets cost R120 per person, with children under 12 admitted free. A limited amount of pit passes are available at an additional R75 per person. All tickets are available to purchase at www.itickets.co.za.
Other racing categories taking part in the festival include VW Cup, Formula 1600, Extreme Supercars, Legends of the 9 Hour, V8 Supercar / Masters as well as an exciting Supercar parade.