[clear]Randburg, South Africa ÔÇô The biggest motorsport engineering challenge yet seen in South African motorsport comes to fruition at Zwartkops Raceway west of Pretoria on Women’s Day, Tuesday, 9th August when the cream of the country’s motorsport talent ignites a brand new racing series, the eagerly anticipated Sasol Global Touring Car (GTC) Championship.
Teams are busy with final assembly and shakedown runs with everyone eager to get the GTC show on the road. Testing schedules have been drawn up and the sense of anticipation is palpable.
Four BMW 2-Series GTCs will be driven by Hennie Groenewald and Gennaro Bonafede under the Sasol GTC Racing Team banner, while Michael Van Rooyen slips behind the wheel of a Rustenburg Steel Construction-backed entry. Former Production Car Champion Johan Fourie has also selected the German marque with backing from EPS Couriers.
Volkswagen Motorsport has a pair of Jetta GTC cars for multiple Production Car Champion Graeme Nathan and an as yet unnamed driver, following the untimely death of their second driver, Gugu Zulu. VW Motorsport will be conducting driver tests ahead of the race day and announce their second driver shortly thereafter.
Michael Stephen and Simon Moss will compete in a pair of Engen Extreme Audi A3 GTCs. Stephen is arguably the most successful tin-top driver in the past two decades and is relishing the new challenge, while Moss claimed his maiden race win last year and has proven to be a capable young driver.
The inaugural race is the culmination of four years of research and development. The Sasol GTC Championship consists of six rounds this year with each raceday featuring two 40km races per round. Each race will be broadcast on SuperSport in a 52-minute magazine style programme.
GTC is a uniquely South African racing series, combining the best elements from various successful saloon car racing series from across the globe, including the British Tour Car Championship, Australian V8 Supercars and the German DTM series. These elements were combined and adapted to appeal to manufacturers in the South African market, and GTC was born.
The Sasol GTC Championship has already attracted entries from BMW, Volkswagen and Audi, with additional manufacturers set to join the series in 2017. The cars feature 2-litre turbo-charged engines developing 325kW and 600NM of torque. Drive is through the rear-wheels to common specification running gear across all brands. Regulated components include the gearbox, brakes, shock absorbers and suspension.
GTC anticipates the cars will reach 280km/h at fast tracks like East London, while providing a visual and aural feast for spectators and TV audiences alike, with turbo-crackle and flames spitting out of the exhaust under braking.
A major aspect of GTC is rule stability for five years, with development banned to eliminate “cheque-book” racing; this will allow privateers to compete with the manufacturer teams with identical equipment. The founding principle of GTC racing is to highlight driving and engineering talent, to extract every last 10th of a second from the car.
Gary Formato, GTC Founder and former motor racing champion, says: “GTC is an exciting and spectacular racing series that is tailor-made and uniquely South African. The rule stability and tight cost control makes it appealing to manufacturers and competitors, while giving race fans renewed enthusiasm for motorsport in general. It is the first time in twenty years that drivers have a bespoke, purpose-built race car to compete with.
We are privileged to have a company of Sasol’s calibre on board. Sasol is a leading energy and chemicals company with a shared vision and aligned objectives. GTC looks forward to a mutual-beneficial partnership in the years ahead”.