Sandton, South Africa. The three-way fight for the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship is set to be settled at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday 20 October in a no-holds-barred showdown between the country’s top racing drivers. After eight rounds of world-class touring car action across South Africa, the title decider will keep motorsport fans entertained until the last lap of the season.
Leading the title chase is the defending, two-times Sasol GTC Champion, Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) who has amassed 331 points from six victories and seven additional podium results. He has won a race and finished on the podium on both previous visits to the Pretoria race track earlier in the year, marking him a favourite to continue his strong form.
Simon Moss is second in the title race, 31 points adrift of Stephen. The #38 Engen Audi driver led the standings after taking two early season wins and is certainly a force to be reckoned with. He has consistently accumulated points, including no less than eight podium results during his campaign. With no team orders, he could snatch the championship at the last round.
The fight for the runner-up position is close with Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) lurking five points behind Moss and still in the championship battle. Bonafede opened his campaign with a victory at Kyalami and has taken a further three wins during the year, while adding valuable points with five podium placings. Adding to the intense rivalry, Bonafede and Moss are the only two drivers to have scored points in all 16 races held so far.
Victory in East London saw Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) slot into fourth place in the title chase, adding four podium finishes and steadily scoring points, enough to see Volkswagen Motorsport’s Daniel Rowe (VW Jetta GTC) off in fifth place. Rowe is a triple winner, having taken his maiden win in Cape Town in April, following it up with victory at Zwartkops in May and again at his home track in Port Elizabeth in July. Just five points separates these two rivals and both would like to end the year in fourth place on the points table.
Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) raced well in the first third of the season, taking a podium in three of the first four rounds before falling off the pace. He recovered his form in Cape Town last month and remains a threat to his rivals. Following a cycling accident, however, he will miss the final round, much to the dismay of his many fans.
Robert Wolk has endured a difficult season in the second Sasol BMW GTC and is anxious to close his season on a high note. His season started with a huge accident at Kyalami before bouncing back with a third place finish at Killarney in April. He had to wait until round four in East London for his second podium, but endured a run of four technically challenging events since then.
Mathew Hodges (Volkswagen Jetta GTC) has had an equally challenging season, mired at the foot of the points table with a best result of third at Kyalami in September. He is looking to end the season on a high note at Zwartkops, and having won the final race in 2016, remains a proven GTC winner.
Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi) needs four points from the remaining two races to wrap up his second successive GTC2 title. Ten victories and three second place finishes marks Masters as the dominant force in the category for front wheel drive cars.
The pair of Signature Motorsport MINI John Cooper Works of Devin Robertson (Champion) and Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo) has provided consistent competition to the Volkswagen driver. Robertson, second in the standings, has two victories in his first year of GTC2 racing while Liebenberg has three wins to hold third place, tied on points with the consistent Trevor Bland (Universal Healthcare Volkswagen Golf GTi). Bland has seven podiums to his name, including two from Killarney last month, marking his recovery from a mid-season slump in form.
Adrian Wood (Kyocera Volkswagen Golf GTi) has made great strides in his first season of GTC2 racing, having finished on the podium five times in the past six races. He is closing in on Bland on the overall points table while pulling away from Charl Smalberger (Q20 Volkswagen Golf GTi). Smalberger was disqualified from his first win of the season last time out and will be hungry to make amends at the season finale
Newcomers Bob Neill (Delmon Mining Ford Focus ST) and Paul Hill (Kalex Volkswagen Golf GTi) continue to learn the ropes in the GTC2 class, adding to their experience with each outing.
The season finale gets underway with free practice on Friday in preparation for official qualifying on Saturday morning. The popular fan grid walk is scheduled for 12:00 ahead of the first 12 lap race. The second race from an inverted grid starts at 15:35
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