Michael van Rooyen finished the second round of the 2021 Global Touring Cars season at Zwartkops Raceway this past weekend (April 16-17) as the points-leader while Scott Temple and Jason Campos claimed their maiden race wins.
The race day, filled with action and drama, also left the title battles in both the GTC Championship and GTC SupaCup wide open heading into the next coastal visit for the 2021 season.
Van Rooyen, Temple resilient at the front of the GTC field
Saturday morning saw Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla) taking his first Dunlop Pole Position ahead of Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) – the points leader after Round 1 – despite Wolk dominating all three of Friday’s practice sessions. Julian van der Watt (Euro Performance Ford Focus ST) set the third-fastest time with Scott Temple (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) on the outside of Row 2. Mandla Mdakane (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla) and Lee Thompson (Universal Racing BMW 2 GTC) completed the top-six.
Race 1 was halted on the opening lap following an incident into Turn 1 between Van der Watt, Temple and Mdakane while Thompson had to react quickly to avoid the trio in front of him. Temple emerged as the only driver sustaining enough damage to prevent him from taking the restart. As the race recommenced, Van Rooyen held off Wolk for the lead through the first series of corners. Van Rooyen set the fastest lap and went on to take his first race win at Zwartkops Raceway with Wolk finishing as runner-up. He was closely followed over the line by Van der Watt and Thompson. Mdakane, who celebrated his birthday on the weekend as well as his 50th start in GTC, finished in fifth place. Crucially, the WCT Engineering team completed repairs to Temple’s car with enough time to get onto the circuit again and complete eight of the 12 laps. Apart from earning a classification and points, it also saw him take pole position for Race 2.
Temple and Mdakane held off the podium finishers from Race 1 in the afternoon’s reverse-grid second race. The 16-lap race got neutralised due to one of the GTC SupaCup entrants getting stuck in a precarious position which necessitated the Safety Car to be deployed. This resulted in a two-lap sprint for victory upon resumption. Temple managed to open up a slight margin over the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa pair to take a maiden victory and podium finish, a superb end to the day given the drama in Race 1. He also set the fastest lap of the race. Mdakane crossed the finish line as runner-up which was his best result to date. While Van Rooyen completed the podium and took a one-point lead in the championship. Wolk held off Van der Watt and Thompson for fourth place.
Liebenberg retains GTC SupaCup points lead as Kruger and Campos share wins
Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Racing) took the Dunlop Pole position in the GTC SupaCup ahead of points-leader Brad Liebenberg (Sparco / Nathan’s Motorsport). It was a career-best grid position for Jason Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Campos Racing) ahead of Saood Variawa (SVR). Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport) qualified in fifth-place after setting the pace in Friday’s latter two practice sessions with Mikaeel Pitamber (Toys R Us) completing the top-six. Johan du Bruyn (OdorCure) shared Row 4 with Shaun Duminy (SMD Exotics) who made his first appearance for 2021. Dawie Joubert (Wild Rose Gin Rembrandt Racing) beat Andre Bezuidenhout (Motul Team Perfect Circle) to ninth place with Manogh Maharaj (SMD Exotics) in 11th place. Paul Hill (Kalex Racing) made his first appearance of 2021 and started ahead of Nick Davidson (Stu Davidson & Sons).
Following the aborted start in Race 1, the field regrouped on the grid. Kruger had his work cut out to retain the lead from Liebenberg and Mogotsi. He held off the pair in a battle for the win that closely resembled the trio’s 2020 season-opening tussle. Kruger also beat his own lap record in the process. Campos finished in fourth place while holding off Variawa. Further back, Bezuidenhout who made up positions in the opening laps finished in sixth place. Duminy was closely pursued to seventh place by Pitamber and Davidson. De Bruyn took the final point in tenth place and was also the last driver to finish on the lead lap ahead of Hill and Maharaj. Joubert retired after one lap.
Mogotsi moved into an early lead in Race 2, but suffered experienced mechanical difficulties after the opening laps and lost positions. This saw Campos moving to the front of the field and in a relatively comfortable position until the midway point when the safety car was deployed to allow the marshals to remove Maharaj’s stricken Volkswagen SupaPolo. Campos, who was experiencing brake difficulties held off Kruger and Liebenberg in the two-lap sprint for the flag. Like Temple, Campos also achieved his first podium finish at the top step, becoming the first driver other than Kruger and Liebenberg to take a victory. Kruger finished as runner-up while Liebenberg’s third place marked the first weekend in the history of the class that he didn’t find himself on top of any race or session. He did set the fastest lap and still retains the championship lead. Variawa beat Mogotsi to fourth-place while Pitamber completed the top-six. Bezuidenhout, Davidson, Joubert and De Bruyn took the last points-paying positions. Both Maharaj and Duminy retired while Hill did not start the race.
Round 3 of the 2021 Global Touring Cars season will see the field returning to the coast at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack in Gqeberha in support of the Extreme Festival.