Saturday’s GTC Kylamai 9 Hour curtain raiser will go down as one of the best GTC Championship opening Rounds in history.
A complete showstopper from start to finish. The action in both races but particularly in Race 2 had the crowds on the edge of their seats.
For Andrew Rackstraw and the RDSA/Sparco camp, it was a weekend filled with potential and a lot of positives even though the final result wasn’t quite there due to unforeseen circumstances.
Before we get into the details of this epic race weekend, let’s take a moment to wish WCT Engineering driver Julian Van Der Watt a speedy recovery after what was a freak accident in Friday’s practice.
Off to a solid start
In 2 weeks, the team had to fully prep Andrew’s Golf 8 GTi, resulting in only 2 days of testing. A truly admirable effort. Running under the careful eye of Lee Thompson Racing the RDSA/Sparco VW Golf 8 GTI was right up there fighting with the front pack. You could see Rackstraw was really excited and pleased to be piloting a current spec car and over the course of the season he will be a real threat.
The weekend got off to a tough start with the car really not featuring in practice. However, the team and Andrew worked in unison to iron out the issues. It takes a lot of skill as a driver to give good feedback to your team and it’s something you have to work on continuously. The relationship between driver and race engineer is also an important factor as they both need to build an understanding and speak the same lingo. Even in the short time together, the whole team seems to be on the same page with the same mindset. Their hard work and determination definitely paid off going into qualifying.
With a few traffic issues hampering him, Andrew was still able to set a lap time good enough for P4 giving him a 2nd-row start. Not a bad place to be considering the long run down to T1. The post-qualifying debrief revealed there was a lot more to come from the car and the data showed that in race trim they were going to be very competitive with the guys ahead.
The lights went out and away they went for Race 1. Rackstraw managed his start perfectly to maintain position. After a bit of a tussle, he was able to go around the outside through T2 and T3 and slotted back into P4 as they hit the straight leading down to Sunset corner. From there the pace looked really good but unfortunately, a couple of laps later the gear position sensor went faulty causing the car to get stuck in 6th gear. A tough pill to swallow considering the position Andrew was in. Eventually, the car shifted out of 6th but then it was only reading 1st to 5th. Cruising to the finish he was able to rack up some good points and P4 finish after some drama up ahead.
In race 2, Andrew judged the start to perfection once again and got up into P2 after starting in third. He was all over the leader just before the safety car was called to deal with some stranded Polo Supa Cup cars. With 9 laps still to go the safety car pulled in allowing the bunched-up field to go racing again and how thrilling it was. A train of 6 cars went to war as Andrew piled on the pressure to the Toyota up ahead.
He was relentless as he held onto P2 for the majority of the race. Heading onto lap 9 Andrew still looked comfortable in P2 until an overzealous move came from behind. The driver behind got it all wrong and tagged Andrew’s Golf GTi as they were exiting a corner. It sent both cars spinning off and coming to a halt. This cost him a lot of time as the car struggled to start after the contact. Eventually, he got going again to cross the line a lonely P4. Once post-race penalties were applied he was elevated back up to a podium position and took P3 which gave him a P4 overall result.
“A weekend that just didn’t seem to go our way.
With very limited testing and issues on Thursday practice I only managed to get a handful of laps to get the car dialled in before Qualifying and race 1 the next day.
Qualifying was disappointing as it didn’t represent our true speed with traffic every lap, but I knew the car would be competitive for race 1.
Unfortunately, in race 1 we had a gear-selecting issue which resulted in me being stuck in 6th gear for the majority of a lap, and then subsequently having to race with only 5 gears.
The team worked hard to sort out all the issues. Race 2 looked a lot more promising fighting for the lead while having to defend 2nd position.
Unfortunately, very late into the race I was taken out by another competitor which ruled out any chance to fight for the win.
This past weekend wasn’t kind to us, but we have taken it on the chin and only focussed on the positives, which are we now have a car to fight for wins….
Thank you to Lee Thompson racing for all the hard work, as well as Sparco, Investchem, RDSA, Ravenol and TheSimGrid for their continuous support.
I look forward to our next race and the rest of the championship! Let’s go get our first GTC win!”
A fantastic weekend all round and to come away with a P4 still sits well going forward. Next up in 3 weeks, we will be travelling to Andrew Rackstraw’s home ground, where we are sure he will be eager to put on a show.
Until then keep well and we will see you at Killarney next!
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Image by: Motorsport Fanatix