The 2019 Global Touring Car championship got off to a flying start as Simon Moss dominated proceedings to get his season off to a perfect start aboard his Terry Moss Racing Audi Sport A3, but it was an entertaining afternoon behind him with a frenzied dice for the lesser places.
Moss gave notice of his intentions for the weekend with pole position, seven-tenths of a second clear of a delighted Michael van Rooyen and his brand new Toyota GA300 Racing Corolla on a damp circuit. Robert Wolk was third on the grid in his Chemical Logistics/WCT Engineering BMW 220i with GTC debutant Keagan Masters the leading Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta in fourth.
Johan Fourie was next up in the EPS Courier Services BMW, with Daniel Rowe sixth in the second Volkswagen Motorsport
Jetta ahead of another newcomer, GTC’s youngest driver yet, Daniel Duminy’s SMD Exotics BMW and Tschops Sipuka eighth on his GTC debut aboard the second Terry Moss Racing Audi Sport A4.
There was drama in GTC2 when the turbochargers of both Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTIs of Brad Liebenberg and Adrian Wood’s Kyocera car were found to have over-boosted in qualifying, leaving Charl Smalberger on pole in the Universal Healthcare Golf GTI ahead of Bob Neill’s Delmon Mining Ford Focus ST and Paul Hill’s Kalex Golf GTI, with the factory cars relegated to the back.
Moss wasted little time as he cleared off up front when the first race started, leading what would become a fraught race behind. Initially headed by van Rooyen’s Toyota, Wolk, Masters, Fourie, Rowe, Duminy and Sipuka were in close attendance, as Wolk soon found a way past van Rooyen. Further back, Duminy stopped before rejoining and Sipuka retired as Masters reeled van Rooyen in for second.
The Volkswagen duly caught and passed the Toyota, leaving van Rooyen exposed to Rowe and Fourie who also found a way past on a component shedding fourth lap. That left Masters chasing Wolk down for second, a feat he achieved with three laps to go, before Rowe also caught the BMW to make it a Volkswagen 2-3 behind the flying Moss, with Wolk fourth ahead of Fourie, who somehow managed to stay in that position throughout the race! Duminy joined Sipuka in retirement on lap 8.
Smalberger led GTC2 away only to be hauled in and passed by the factory cars, while Hill took an early shower, leading Neill in pursuit of Smalberger. It stayed that way until Wood went off with three laps to go to promote Smalberger and Neill to second and third behind winner Liebenberg.
The reverse-grid second race was entertaining as always as young Duminy led away and kept it there for a lap before being passed by van Rooyen’s Toyota, before Duminy’s BMW ground to a halt to let Robert Wolk up to second for a couple of laps.
Simon Moss had meanwhile enjoyed a demon second lap after starting at the back and passed Wolk for second by lap 4 as Rowe and Masters’ Volkswagens followed the Audi up through the field.
Johan Fourie had slipped back in the early laps, but he consolidated and was soon harrying Wolk, but all eyes were on the race up front as the flying Moss Audi hauled the brand new van Rooyen Toyota in, to move ahead on lap 8 and take the double win and end a perfect start to the 2019 Global Touring Car season. Moss beat van Rooyen by 1.3 seconds in the end with Rowe, Masters and Fourie some way behind but well ahead of the struggling Wolk and Sipuka.
In GTC2, Smalberger led most of the way only to be passed by the factory Golfs when he ran into problems on the final tour as Liebenberg also took advantage of a last lap pass to take the double from Wood, Smalberger and Niell, with that four in the same order overall.
So Moss took an easy overall win from Masters, Rowe, Fourie, van Rooyen and Wolk to lead the title en route to round 2 at Zwartkops Saturday 6 April. Sounds like a good date to diarise…
[Written and issued by Motorsport Media SA.]