It’s a case of wily experience versus youthful exuberance, as the Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship and SupaCup head to Red Star Raceway to fight out a midseason battle at the twisty 13-turn Mpumalanga circuit on Saturday 2 July. Highveld race fans can look forward to fireworks at the Delmas races.
Toyota drivers, reigning champion Robert Wolk and rookie young gun Saood Variawa will arrive separated by only four championship points. Both of their lots are compounded by a field of rivals who intend to make up for early season lost ground.
Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla driver Wolk has won all three opening races. His young rival Variawa may not have won yet, but consistency has brought him a pair of overall winner’s trophies in the past two rounds in his Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla.
Michael van Rooyen overcame a tough start of the season to hold the field off and take the second reverse race win in his Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla last time out at Aldo Scribante. That performance has moved the Rustenburg man into third place in the title race.
The winner of the first two reverse grid races of the season, Julian van der Watt however, endured a torrid outing at the previous Gqeberha round in his Chemical Logistics Ford Focus RS. He sits fourth in the championship chase heading to Delmas.
It’s close behind him between the consistent Andrew Rackstraw in his Chemical Logistics RDSA Audi S3, Brad Liebenberg, who made a late start to the season in his Hype Energy / Sparco Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI, and the third Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla pilot Mandla Mdakane.
Liebenberg can be expected to challenge for title honours now that he’s getting up to speed in the new Golf. And never discount any of them in Red Star’s reverse grid second race.
In the GTC SupaCup, Consistent young Polo Cup champion Leyton Fourie will have a host of highly experienced drivers all over his back when he arrives at Red Star Raceway as points leader.
Fourie, a 2022 series debutant, won the two most recent reverse grid races and has also scored points in each of the six races this season in his Express Hire Universal Polo SupaCup. Principal rivals, former Polo Cup champion Jeffrey Kruger’s Universal Healthcare car and Team Perfect Circle’s Keagan Masters have also both won two races apiece, but both have also failed to score once each.
Behind them, Keegan Campos has also finished every race in the points to sit fourth in the chase in his Campos Transport / Turn 1 Insurance Brokers Polo SupaCup. He has another recent Polo Cup graduate, Arnold Neveling’s PAGID Stradale Motorsport machine breathing down his neck. Neveling started a round late, but three solid second places in four points-paying finishes have rocketed him up the Points table to sit an impressive fifth, just ahead of Jason Campos’ Campos Transport / Turn 1 Insurance Brokers Polo SupaCup.
Jean-Pierre van der Walt’s Platinum Wheels car and Danie van Niekerk’s Titan Stunts Van Niekerk Racing machine are next up ahead of Tato Carello. Continuing to alternatate the driving duties in the Carello Auto Polo SupaCup, Carello will replace Calvin Dias for this round. This doesn’t mean that Dias is out of the event though as he’ll be sporting his new Chemi Polo SupaCup in Round 4. Brothers Nathan and Damian Hammond will also be looking to impress in their Trinity Protection Services entries. Both drivers made their debut in Round 3.
Following the tragic events after the third round and Volkswagen Motorsport’s subsequent withdrawal from the 2022 season, Jonathan Mogotsi will be returning to the GTC SupaCup in his Sonax / Motul entry. The 2021 class runner-up is expected to mix things up at the front and is eager to push for his first win of the season.
Stefan Snyders, who missed the last two rounds due to a torn Achilles tendon, will also be back on the grid in his Steton Investments Polo SupaCup at the circuit where he made his debut in 2021.
Gqeberha-based Nick Davidson remains unbeaten in the GTC SupaCup Masters class aboard his Stu Davidson & Sons Polo SupaCup. That does not mean he has not had to work for it. Scotsman Paul Luti in the second Van Niekerk Racing entry, Team Perfect Circle driver Andre Bezuidenhout and Scribante heat winner Rui Campos have kept Davidson honest throughout.
Campos will, however, not be competing in his Campos Transport / Turn 1 Insurance Brokers car this weekend as he will not be in the country at the time of the event. In his absence, Iain Pepper will be making his debut this coming weekend and is expected to cause a few upsets. Pepper is scheduled to take over the driving duties for Rounds 4 and 5.
Saturday’s races are scheduled to start at 12:45 and 15:25. Following last week’s announcement by the South African Government, there are no limitations or prerequisites related to spectator attendance. Tickets are available directly from Red Star Raceway at R100, while children under 12 years get in for free. The event will also be streamed live on the Global Touring Cars Facebook page as well as the 2WheelsTV YouTube channel.