Sandton, South Africa. Competitive racing from start to finish and unpredictable results have been the hallmark of the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship so far, with the points lead changing ownership three times, and five different drivers taking the chequered flag in the eight races held so far. But as the GTC contenders head to Round 5 and the season mid-point in Port Elizabeth next weekend, they’ll face a new challenge as the 2.4km long Aldo Scribante circuit has been completely resurfaced with an international specification tarmac.
Leading the title chase is Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) on 160 points after taking his second victory of the year last time out in East London. He will be under pressure to bank as many points as possible as he comes up against the Engen Audi squad who are favourites at their home track.
Michael Stephen, the defending double Sasol GTC Champion, knows Aldo Scribante like no other driver and undoubtedly starts the weekend as favourite for victory. He and team-mate Simon Moss will be the only drivers to test on the newly resurfaced tack before raceday. With Stephen just four points behind Bonafede and Moss a further seven adrift, there is a very real chance that the championship leaderboard will see more movement when the flag drops to mark the end of the day’s racing.
The 2017 Sasol GTC races will be remembered for the clash between Stephen and Bonafede that saw both drivers in the gravel as they fought for victory.
Moss has demonstrated his winning ability this year with two victories to his name and led the standings until round four where he battled to overcome mechanical issues. He too, will be a driver well able to win on the day and re-claim the points lead.
Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) lies fourth on the points table after a string of podium finishes this year. He is getting faster and more accomplished behind the wheel and cannot be discounted for another top-drawer performance.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s Daniel Rowe is currently fifth in the championship, six points behind van Rooyen. The VW Jetta GTC driver joined the elite winner’s circle this year, adding a second victory to his tally at round three. With VW’s factory down the road in Uitenhage, the team will be looking for another winning performance in front of their home ground spectators.
Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) clinched a podium last time out and returns to the track where he won his maiden GTC victory last year. The seasoned race winner will be pulling out all the stops to add a second GTC victory to his tally and close down the five points difference to Rowe.
Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) turned his season around in East London last month with a lights-to-flag victory. He aims to repeat that coastal performance and move up the championship order, banishing his three non-finishes to the history books.
Mathew Hodges (VW Jetta GTC) has endured a nightmare season so far with a best result of fifth place. The resilient driver is desperate to return to the top step of the podium which he last visited at the tail end of the 2016 season.
Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi), the current GTC2 champion, has a handy 23-point cushion over Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo MINI John Cooper Works). Masters’ record is remarkable; he has either won or finished second in every race barring one non-finish in round one back in March.
Liebenberg is under pressure from his Signature Motorsport team-mate Devin Robertson (Champion MINI John Cooper Works) who claimed his maiden GTC2 victory in East London last month. The two MINI drivers have claimed an impressive three victories and five podiums between them, making the front of the GTC2 pack a busy place.
The consistent Trevor Bland (Universal healthcare VW Golf GTi) is one point behind Robertson with five podiums to his name. He will pressure the leading trio and pick up any places up for grabs on the day.
Adrian Wood (Kyocera VW Golf GTi) is in his first season of GTC2 racing and claimed his first podium last month, a feat the factory VW driver would like to repeat at the manufacturer’s home race.
Charl Smalberger (UniChip VW Golf GTI) is four points behind Wood, racking up points consistently, while Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda Civic Type-R) is another four points further back. The Honda adds variety to the field and has led races this year as the unique race car undergoes development.
Newcomer Bob Neill (Delmon Mining & Civils Ford Focus ST) is learning about GTC2 racing in a heated environment, but has started to accumulate points along the way.
The Sasol GTC Fanzone will be in action at Aldo Scribante, offering race-goers a chance to test their skills on a bank of racing simulators. Racing action gets underway at 12h40 on Saturday after the Fan Grid Walk, with Race 2’s reverse grid race scheduled to start at 15h10.
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[ISSUED BY SASOL]