GLOBAL TOURING CARS RELAUNCHES PRODUCTION CLASS AS GTC2 FOR 2017
The Sasol Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship’s second-tier category, GTC Production, has officially been renamed GTC2 for the 2017 season to move the category in line with international standards.
Catering for lower-powered, production-based cars, GTC2 is considered the stepping stone into the premier Sasol GTC Championship. This ladder of progression was used effectively by Volkswagen South Africa last year, when the manufacturer promoted its 2016 GTC Production class champion, Daniel Rowe, into the premier class this year to drive the #21 VW GTC racecar.
“We see GTC2 as an appropriate stepping stone for younger drivers to progress into the main GTC class, and therefore made perfect sense to rename it GTC2 which is much more marketable and meaningful to people outside of the pit lane,” said Sasol GTC director Gary Formato.
“Another endorsement of just how much potential GTC2 has is the fact that MINI will enter two John Cooper Works cars for rising stars Bradley Liebenberg and Christopher Shorter under the Signature Motorsport banner this year.
“We expect further entries to commit throughout the season, so it is a very exciting time for our championship to have attracted another manufacturer to the series. In spite of tough market conditions, and people being cautious in terms of their spending, we continue to see growth in our sport and we remain hugely excited and optimistic for the season ahead,” concluded Formato.
With the addition of new manufacturers this season, also being introduced for 2017 will be a GTC2 Manufacturer’s Title award at season’s end. Already on offer in the premier Sasol GTC Championship, the GTC2 equivalent will see the first two finishing cars of any marque within the class being awarded points to the overall title.
The GTC2 brand mirrors that which is used by key international categories like the Formula 1 feeder series GP2, MotoGP’s breeding ground Moto2, and the Virgin Australia Supercars’ feeder series Super2.
The 2017 Sasol GTC Championship sees an expanded calendar compared to last year, with nine rounds being held around South Africa, beginning at Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town from March 24-25.
Randburg, South Africa – Hennie Groenewald, the driver of the #08 Sasol GTC racing car has stepped down from the team as a result of starting a new business venture in Cape Town after relocating to the Western Cape late last year.
Reflecting on his seven year stint with Sasol, Groenewald said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to be associated with Sasol over the past seven racing seasons, culminating in our 2015 Production Car Championship.
Being part of the Sasol racing team was more than just being a racing driver for Sasol, as I got to meet amazing people and staff at all levels of the organization as well as taking part in various activations at Sasol’s head office and forecourts throughout the country”.
Groenewald took his first victory under the Sasol brand at Port Elizabeth in 2010 and continued to deliver race-winning performances throughout his production car career, culminating in the 2015 championship.
The Sasol GTC Racing Team will announce their second driver and team structure ahead of the first round of the Sasol GTC Championship on 25th March.
[Issued by Sasol]
The teams, organisers and sponsors of the Sasol GTC Championship have come together at the inaugural Champions Evening in Johannesburg to celebrate the milestones and winners from the first season of racing in South Africa.
Championship trophies were handing out to our champion manufacturer BMW South Africa, GTC Production champion Daniel Rowe, third place finisher in the standings Mathew Hodges, championship runner-up Gennaro Bonafede and our first Sasol GTC Champion, Michael Stephen.
Watch our celebratory videos in the playlist below:
Randburg, South Africa – Sasol is continuing its championship-winning relationship with SP Racing, fielding a pair of BMW 2-Series GTC racers in the new Sasol Global Touring Car (GTC) Championship. The team makes its track debut at Zwartkops Raceway on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.
Running under the Sasol GTC Racing Team banner, Hennie Groenewald – the 2015 Production Car Champion – and Gennaro Bonafede are assured of engineering standards of the highest order as they tackle the new series, which is set to take South Africa by storm over six rounds over the next five months.
The team conducted a systems check shakedown a week ago and although running to a strict set of instructions, the driver’s comments were extremely encouraging.
Global Touring Cars are designed to enhance close racing with equally matched cars under a strict cost-containment set of regulations. Driver aids, such as ABS braking, are not allowed, heightening the emphasis on driving ability. With 325kW and 600NM of torque under the bonnet, Groenewald and Bonafede are itching to get back behind the wheel of a real racing car, which is set to offer South Africans a feast for their senses.
Team Manager Vic Maharaj and his team of technicians are working around the clock to ensure two beautifully prepared 2-Series GTCs are on the grid come raceday.
“The initial shakedown proved very encouraging with the car running 20 laps to bed in the systems. Initial feedback from the drivers is very promising and we’re looking forward to our debut. The car set-up requirements and lack of driver aids will demand a different skill-set from the drivers, and the one that adapts the quickest will likely be the most successful. It’s a very exciting time for us”. concluded Team Manager, Vic Maharaj.
From the cockpit:
Hennie Groenewald is raring to go racing again: “I haven’t raced at all since the end of January, nor have I driven a real racing car for many years, so I’m really looking forward to it. Not having anti-lock braking, for example, gives me a better feeling of what grip levels I have under braking which in turn helps confidence levels in an overtaking situation. GTC will be a stern test of a driver’s abilities behind the wheel.
The cars are equipped with one of the best gearboxes available; they have great aerodynamics that generates a lot of downforce which means faster cornering speeds. We run on slick racing tyres that provide healthy levels of grip. The chassis is more rigid and the whole package and concept is to create close racing and give the spectators an exciting show. After my first run in the car, I could feel it is nimble while the paddle-shift gearbox is simply superb, like a mini Formula One car.
This is my 6th year as a Sasol racing driver; with GTC being the most exciting series we have tackled together and I am privileged to represent such a respected global brand in Sasol”.
Gennaro Bonafede is equally anxious to get behind the wheel of his Sasol GTC Racecar: “GTC has been coming a long time, and I can’t believe it’s almost ready to get underway. It’s been six years since I raced a car without ABS brakes, so I’m going to prepare myself by driving a go-kart for a few laps to remind myself what it is like.
This will be my first time competing in a purpose-built racing car and I’m very excited to be part of the Sasol GTC Championship. I think a key ingredient to success is going to be to find the right set-up for the track as quickly as possible, so that we can concentrate on fast qualifying laps. I think the fans are going to be in for a treat.
The car is simply amazing in so many respects. Its power delivery is very smooth and it sounds great; it feels alive and almost begs to be driven fast. Sasol has been an amazing sponsor to race for, and I certainly hope to reward them with some victories over the coming months”.
The Sasol GTC Racing Team invites fans to their pit area to chat to the drivers and see the sleek new racers being prepared for the pair of 40km races in which they will compete.