GTC

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back at the inaugural Sasol GTC season

 

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW: A look back at the inaugural Sasol GTC season

2016 was a massive year for the Sasol GTC Championship with many great moments making an unforgettable first season competing around South Africa. Before we begin a new Championship, Sasol GTC has created a #2016SasolGTC year-in-review series where we’ll look back at our favourite race wins, unforgettable battles, behind-the-scenes moments captured on camera, and events that shaped our inaugural year on track.
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#1 – LAUNCHING GLOBAL TOURING CARS

“This is a momentous day. A day in which the face of motor sport in South Africa is changing dramatically!”
Just seven months ago on June 10th, 2016, the Sasol GTC Championship was launched to the public and media at Zwartkops Raceway. It was the first time that all of our drivers, teams and the Sasol GTC logo were on display to herald a new era in South African motorsport. What a ride it has been since then!

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#2. ESTABLISHING GTC PRODUCTION

There were two aims behind creating the GTC Production class. Firstly, to create a platform where drivers emerging from development categories, like the Engen Volkswagen Cup, could get the experience needed to step up into the premier class, and secondly, open doors for other manufactures to get involved in racing. In 2016, GTC Productionproved successful with both, as we saw Daniel Rowe win the Production title for Volkswagen Motorsport AND be confirmed as a main game starter for 2017, plus we also welcomed the news that MINI South Africa will join the grid this coming season. Watch out for an incredibly exciting 2017 ahead!

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#3. REMEMBERING GUGU

Before the Sasol GTC Championship had turned a wheel on track, we were deeply saddened by the passing of our Volkswagen Motorsport SA friend Gugu Zulu. Gugu was destined to drive the VW Jetta GTC in 2016, but while participating in the Trek4Mandela initiative, he passed away just short of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Motorsport lost one of its greatest characters that day, and the country one of its most inspirational people. Round 1 at Zwartkops Raceway saw us honour his memory with rememberance stickers on our cars and he will forever be part of the GTC family.

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#4. AND WE ARE GO…
What a fabulous start to the inaugural season of the Sasol GTC Championsip. Round 1 was held at Zwartkops Raceway and the turnout was overwhelming! From motorsport fans, to car enthusiasts, lots of media and also the general public who wanted to see what GTC was all about. Thank you for your loyal support!

3.WeAreGo
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#5. A WINNING START

Round one at Zwartkops Raceway was certainly an indication of how the season would unfold. Terry Moss Racing’s Michael Stephen took the first pole position and race win of the season… a season that he would go on to dominate and eventually claim overall honors for as Champion. The TMR crew undoubtedly set the benchmark for the 2016 Championship.

4.A winning start

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#6. MANUFACTURERS SHARE THE SPOTLIGHT

True production car racing is all about having a variety of manufacturers competing and more importantly having them support the Championship. In 2016, it was fabulous to not only have the support of
Volkswagen Motorsport_za, Audi South Africa and BMW South Africa in Sasol GTC, but seeing them sharing the spoils of victory at each event. We’re looking forward to more manufacturers helping us expand further this year!
6.Manufacturers
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#7. THE RIVALRY

There’s no doubt that Terry Moss Racing’s Michael Stephen had a stellar championship-winning year, but it wasn’t without tough competition from Sasol BMW’s Gennaro Bonafede. Eager, determined, and fast… Gennaro’s healthy battles with Michael was great to watch trackside, plus he proved to have what it takes to not just win races but be a contender for the title in 2017. Watch this space!

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#8. THE NEW KYALAMI

One of our highlights was getting to race on the newly revamped Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. The extensive redevelopment plan of the 16-turn, 4.5km circuit represented the single largest upgrade in the circuit’s 54 year history and we were there for Round 4 back in October. In 2017, we’ll be racing here twice and we can’t wait!

(Photo credits: Peter Hassall Photography, Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit)

8.Kyalami

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#9. THE MASTER

An 11-time South African motorsport champion coming into 2016, there’s no doubt that Michael Stephen was the one to beat in our inaugural season. The seasoned campaigner from Port Elizabeth began stronger than anyone else, claiming the first six straight race wins and giving Terry Moss Racing the championship-winning edge all year. No doubt there will be a fair few hungry drivers wanting to replicate his success in 2017!

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#10. THE TURNING POINT
Round 3, Race 2 was the turning point of the Sasol GTC Championship. At Killarney International Raceway, Sasol BMW South Africa‘s Gennaro Bonafede became the first driver to take a race win other than Engen Xtreme’s Michael Stephen. The Audi driver had amassed six straight wins up until that point, but we knew the streak had to be broken at some point. Gennaro and his Sasol BMW outfit kept the pressure on all season, finishing a hard-fought second place outright.

9.Gennaro

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#11. SASOL SUPPORT
We’re half way through our reflections of the 2016 Sasol GTC Championship and something that definitely helped GTC get off the ground last year was the support of Sasol. A big supporter of motorsport, it was fabulous having their backing for not just on the 2 BMW South Africa entries of Gennaro Bonafede and Hennie Groenewald but of the full Championship. Having them onboard again in 2017 means that we can build a bigger and better championship, and that can only be a good thing for not just our teams but you, our fans!
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#12. VAST EXPERIENCE

When you look at this image, you might think it’s just a starting grid photo. But look closer and you’ll see that one of our greatest strengths is the depth of our racing talent. From household names like Johan Fourie Racing and Hennie Groenewald, to the seasoned pro and our current champion in Michael Stephen Racing, the younger drivers with a massive career ahead of them like Gennaro Bonafede and Mathew Hodges, and then the new guys on the block in GTC Production like Mandla Mdakane and newly crowned class champion Daniel Rowe. Everyone with a story to tell, a title to chase, and lots of enthusiasm for the Sasol GTC category. Winning!

12.Experience
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#13. ROWE’S VICTORY
2016 was a big year for the inaugural season of the Sasol GTC Championship but we can imagine it was even bigger for Volkswagen Motorsport‘s Daniel Rowe, who claimed his first production car championship title. The racer from Port Elizabeth had stepped up from the Engen Volkswagen Cup into GTC Production and virtually dominated the season. His efforts were rewarded by winning the class title one event early… Daniel will step up into the main game this year and we know he’ll be just as determined to win in Sasol GTC!
13.Dan Rowe
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#14. MINI ON THE WAY
As we wind down our review of the inaugural 2016 Sasol GTC Championship, one of our most recent big news stories was that a new manufacturer was on the way… with the help of Signature Motorsport and Federal-Mogul Motorparts, Mini South Africa will be on the GTC Production starting grid for 2017 with a pair of brand new MINI John Cooper Works cars. It’s going to be exciting seeing them battle against the class-wining Volkswagen Motorsport_za team this year!

 

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#15. THE CHAMPION
There’s no other way we can wrap up our 2016 Sasol GTC Season in review than by celebrating our inaugural champion Michael Stephen Racing from Terry Moss Racing. A great ambassador for the sport and for Audi, Michael won 8 of the 14 races last year and claimed enough points to take the title despite engine issues at the grand finale. Despite his early dominance, there was no doubt that championship runner-up, Sasol BMW South Africa‘s Gennaro Bonafede will apply even more pressure this year as they both chase the coveted #1.
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