Champion Robert Wolk survived a crunching reverse grid second race and a penalty to still come out on top as Global Touring Cars thrilled an eager crowd that returned en masse to Killarney’s splendid Extreme Festival races on Saturday. Wolk held a combative Daniel Rowe off to win the first heat and then followed Julian van der Watt’s RDSA Ford Focus home in race 2, before Rowe inherited second. Jeffrey Kruger and Keagan Masters meanwhile shared spectacular GTC Supacup wins.
Wolk showed great pace all weekend before planting his Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla on pole position Saturday morning to claim the R2,500 Dunlop Pole Position award. Returning Volkswagen Motorsport duo Daniel Rowe and Jonathan Mogotsi were an impressive second and third on the grid as the safety car peeled into the pits and the field came under starter’s orders. It did not last too long before a monumental crash between three SuperCup Polos brought the red flag out. The race was started afresh off the same grid in perfect summer conditions under the backdrop of Table Mountain.
Champion Wolk once again made best of the second start in searing temperatures and drove off to a relatively untroubled victory. Rowe kept him honest throughout, to finish under two seconds behind. Mogotsi ran third through the early laps but dropped back after experiencing brake issues. That allowed impressive Hype Audi rookie, VW Supacup champion Bradley Liebenberg up to a debut podium in third.
Gazoo Racing Toyota duo Michael van Rooyen fought back from seventh to fourth, and Mandla Mdakane from eighth on the grid to fifth, with Julian van der Watt sixth in the RDSA WCT Ford Focus RS sixth ahead of Mogotsi. Investchem Formula 1600 champion Andrew Rackstraw ran fifth early on before stopping when his Investchem RDSA Audi ran into mechanical issues. Another VW SupaCup graduate, Sa’ood Variawa’s third Gazoo Racing Corolla also stopped at mid distance.
That meant that Julian van der Watt sat on pole position for the reverse grid second race from Mdkane, van Rooyen, Liebenberg, Rowe and Wolk. But four into three don’t go and when Mdkane lost his tail in the run down from turn two to three, Liebenberg hit Mdkane, while Variyawa was dragged into the carnage that Wolk narrowly avouded. That launched Liebenberg and Mdkane into a wild off track excursion, with both rendered hors de combat as the red flag once again flew to nullify that early effort.
The race restarted sans Liebenberg and Mdkane with Variyawa’s crunched GR Corolla rejoining, to deliver an exceptional dice up front. Local youngster van der Watt did everything he needed to as he led the way. He initially backed Rowe toward the flying Wolk after both made great progress through the field from the back. Van der Watt then left his teammate to deal with Rowe as both snapped at Julian’s heels as the Ford man sped to victory. Wolk held Rowe off for second…
Andrew Rackstraw and Sa’ood Variawa made good for that first race disappointment to come home fourth and fifth, while Jonathan Mogotsi once again struggled home in sixth. Michael van Rooyen recovered from an early spin to end up seventh. The drama was however not yet over, as Wolk was later handed a 3-pace penalty to slip to fifth behind van der Watt, Rowe, Rackstraw and Variyawa.
That failed to change the overall result, which was worked on overall time. So Wolk took the day by all of 0.8 seconds from Rowe, van der Watt, van Rooyen, Mogotsi, Variyawa and Rackstraw. It does however provisionally make a difference to the championship standings, especially since the second race results are subject to an appeal. As it stands Rowe leads Wolk by a point, with van der Watt looming large and a handy advantage over Rackstraw and Variyawa.
Behind the top class, GTC refugee Keagan Masters claimed the Dunlop Pole Position as well as the R2,500 award in his Team Perfect Circle car, ahead of Universal duo Jeffrey Kruger and Leyton Fourie on a packed grid of Polo Supacups. The first start was controversially terminated after three laps when that dramatic shunt that eliminated Sam and Nathan Hammond and Andre Bezuidenhout. That saw Masters lead Kruger, Fourie to win the restart from dicing Keegan Campos and local hero Danie van Niekerk, Jason Campos and JP van der Walt, while Nick Davidson took Masters.
A splendid second Supacup dice saw Jason Campos leading all the way ahead of a mad squabble, only to be shuffled down the ladder on the final tour. Jeffrey Kruger took advantage of that cracking last lap shuffle to edge Leyton Fourie, Keagan Masters, Keegan Campos and Jason, with van Niekerk van der Walt and Masters man Davidson in chase in a race of attrition. So Masters took the day from Kruger Fourie, Keegan Campos and van Niekerk and Davidson won Masters.
GTC and Supacup travel to Zwartkops next for round 2 of the Extreme Festival Saturday 23 April. Judging by the Killarney action, that would be a very good one to diarise.