Pretoria, South Africa – The sixth round of the Sasol GTC Championship, hosted by Sasol at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, resulted in a stalemate in the overall championship standings after the reigning champion, Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) and Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) crossed the chequered flag first respectively in the two exciting 12-lap races.
Stephen maintains his eight-point lead over Bonafede with three rounds remaining on the calendar. Stephen was crowned as the race one winner, followed by Bonafede and Simon Moss (Engen Audi GTC). In the second race, Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) led the way from Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta GTC) until the pair collided on the final lap, allowing Bonafede to take a fortuante victory. Stephen took second place with Moss completing the podium.
Earlier in the day, qualifying saw another Audi front row lockout with Stephen just 0.025 seconds clear of his team-mate, followed by Bonafede and Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC). Fourie, Rowe, Michael van Rooyen (RCS BMW GTC) and Mathew Hodges (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta GTC) rounded out the starting grid, which saw pole to eighth position covered by 0.8 seconds.
In the opening 12-lap race, Stephen led from lights to flag, although he came under attack from Moss who spun while trying to take the lead on lap three. This failed move allowed Bonafede into second place, followed by Moss and Michael van Rooyen (RCS BMW GTC). Van Rooyen and Rowe were embroiled in a titanic, race-long duel over the position, which eventually went to the Rustenburg driver. Johan Fourie finished in sixth position after battling with brake problems that saw him spin off during the race. Wolk retired with an oil leak and Hodges exited the race with mechanical challenges.
The inverted-grid second race was another dramatic, action packed affair. Fourie led from the start, followed by Van Rooyen who made several passing attempts during the opening laps, which made for typical action-packed Sasol GTC Championship racing. Rowe held on to third, followed by Bonafede and Stephen, Moss and Wolk.
Van Rooyen spun while battling for the lead, allowing Rowe into second spot. As the laps reeled off, Rowe caught Fourie and going into Turn Two on the final lap, Rowe tried to dive down the inside of the BMW. The pair tangled, both landing in the gravel trap, while Bonafede could scarcely believe his luck, as he took first place honours. Stephen crossed the line in second place, followed by Moss, Fourie, Wolk and Rowe.
Keagan Masters powered his Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi to pole position, one tenth of a second ahead of his teammate Adrian Wood (Kyocera VW Golf GTi). The Signature Motorsport MINI John Copper Works of Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo) and Devin Robertson (Champion) were third and fourth, 0.025 seconds apart. Charl Smalberger (UniChip VW Golf GTi), Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda Civic Type-R), Trevor Bland (Universal Healthcare VW Golf GTi), Johan Pretorius (Universal Healthcare Golf GTi), Paul Hill (Kalex Golf GTi) and Bob Neill (Delmon Mining Ford Focus ST) rounded out the GTC2 grid.
The GTC2 championship leader led the race from lights out to the chequered flag, only mildly pressured by Wood for three laps. Wood came under threat from Robertson’s MINI, but held on to take his best result of his GTC2 career. Smalberger ended a quiet race in fourth, with Liebenberg (MINI), Bland, Hill, Neill, Pretorius and Angel rounding out the results sheet.
In the second race, Liebenberg was into the lead by Turn Two, with Robertson up into second place a lap later with Masters in close attendance. Wood and Smalberger were in the wars, the pair of Golf GTis tangling mid-race. Masters barged Robertson out of his way in Turn Two and set off after Liebenberg. On the final lap, Liebenberg and Masters rubbed wheels and fenders; Masters put the nose of his Golf inside the MINI’s nose at the final corner and Masters just pipped Liebenberg to the flag by two tenths of a second. Robertson completed the podium, with Wood, Bland and Smalberger completing the GTC2 top six.
The seventh round of the Sasol GTC Champion takes place at the Festival of Motoring at Kyalami from 31st August to 2nd September.
GTC: Stephen – 239, Bonafede – 231, Moss – 222, Rowe – 182, Van Rooyen – 176, Fourie – 173, Wolk – 159, Hodges – 124
GTC2: Masters – 259, Liebenberg – 235, Robertson – 235, Bland – 208, Wood – 171, Smalberger – 164, Angel – 137, Neill – 66
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