This coming weekend’s (8-9 September) sixth round of the Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship and SupaCup at Killarney International Raceway will prove vital in determining the final destinations of the respective titles.
Saood Variawa (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) has been on top of the points table since the season opener’s qualifying session. His main rival, defending double Champion Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla), fought back valiantly in Round 5 at the East London Grand Prix Circuit to significantly decrease the gap to seven points following his first two wins of the season.
However, a series of post-event enquiries and hearings saw Wolk demoted to fourth place from his victory in Race 2, with a fourth win added to Variawa’s tally for the year. Heading into the penultimate round, Variawa now leads Wolk by 13 points.
Mathematically, should Variawa finish the weekend 33 points clear of Wolk, he could become the youngest series champion. However, while this is possible, it is not a likely outcome. Wolk will dig into every bit of his experience to keep the battle going until the final flag. His aim will, at minimum, be to reduce the gap to single figures by taking every point on offer. Heading into Round 6, Variawa and Wolk have respective points totals of 139 and 126.
The battle for third place on the points table will also provide a fierce contest. Season debutant Nathi Msimanga (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) heads teammate Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) by two points. After a strong start to the season, Msimanga heads into the Cape Town return trip on the back of two challenging Eastern Cape rounds. While Msimanga will look to get his season back on track, Van Rooyen will also look for the upper hand. Only nine points behind the pair is Andrew Rackstraw (Sparco / RDSA Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI). Residing in Cape Town, he made use of the home-ground advantage to take his maiden victory on the last visit to the circuit. It has also been a lean spell for him since, but a podium in Round 5 will inspire him to return to the top spot. Msimanga, Van Rooyen and Rackstraw have 82, 80 and 71 points, respectively.
Josh le Roux’s (Master Stairs / Vitro Frameless Audi S3) sole debut season podium came in the season opener. He looked to build on this in the recent two reverse-grid races, but incidents marred his chances. With 55 points to his name, he will look towards a strong result in Cape Town.
The points table is rounded out by Capetonian Julian van der Watt (Chemical Logistics BMW 128 ti). Having missed the first three rounds of the season due to a horrific accident at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, he accumulated 41 points in the two Eastern Cape rounds, which included two podiums. Like Rackstraw, he will also look to channel the home influence in his quest for his first win of the season.
Like Variawa, Keegan Campos (Veloce Automobili) has also held the lead throughout the year, but the current all-Volkswagen Polo SupaCup class is in for a top-spot shake-up in Cape Town. Campos, who has 168 points, will not make the trip to Cape Town as he is getting married.
Brad Liebenberg (Hype Energy Drinks / Sparco) is just one point adrift. Campos and Liebenberg have shared all but one of the season’s race wins. The one missing from their combined tally is the most recent East London Grand Prix Circuit race won by Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport), who finds himself eight points behind Liebenberg. Both drivers are set to leapfrog Campos and want to head into the season finale as the driver on top. Liebenberg, who won both the previous races at Killarney International Raceway, is eager to win his third title in the class, while Mogotsi is in search of his maiden title.
Arnold Neverling (GOSCOR Lift Truck Company) is a further 54 points adrift, and while he has been a regular on the podium, he is still searching for his first GTC SupaCup win. Tate Bishop (ANGRi Racing Academy) recently took his second podium and will look to add his first win to his debut season tally at his home circuit. Bishop, with 92 points, trails Neveling by 13.
Danie van Niekerk (Titan Stunts / Van Niekerk Racing) has 44 points to his name and will also look to dig into his vast experience at his home circuit in search of a podium. Following stablemate Paul Luti’s retirement from the series, Van Niekerk already sealed the GTC SupaCup Masters title.
After missing Round 5 due to commitments abroad, Jean-Pierre van der Walt (Platinum Wheels) is eager to get back into the action, while 2023 debutant Karah Hill (Kalex) will also look to continue her impressive form.
David Franco (Graphix Supply World) will make his first outing in the series since the corresponding 2022 round. The weekend will also see another debutant join the ranks, with Capetonian Sebastian Boyd graduating from the Rotax Max Challenge DD2 karting series.
The first of Saturday’s two races will start at 11:50 and be contested over 10 laps, with the 12-lap second race scheduled for 14:50.
Spectator tickets can be purchased via Ticketmaster or the Western Province Motor Club. The full Extreme Festival race day programme will be broadcast live on the Global Touring Cars Facebook page and 2WheelsTV YouTube channel.