Signature Motorsport and Federal-Mogul Motorparts have joined forces with MINI South Africa to race a pair of brand new MINI John Cooper Works cars in the 2017 Sasol Global Touring Car (GTC) Production class in 2017.
The successful VW Cup team has retained the services of their newly crowned champion Chris Shorter who will race under the Champion umbrella, while the championship runner-up Brad Liebenberg will compete in a Ferodo-backed MINI John Cooper Works. The proven engineering talents of Shaun and Etienne van der Linde will design and build the cars in their Gauteng workshop.
GTC Production car class is designed to be a conduit for young drivers to migrate from the junior ranks of the sport into the top echelon GTC class. The front-wheel drive machines develop just over 200kW from their 2-litre turbo-petrol powerplants.
The Ferodo Young Driver Programme started in 2008 and has seen several graduates moving up the ladder of success. Gennaro Bonafede was the first beneficiary where Ferodo backed him all the way to production car racing and maintained their relationship until the series ended in 2015.
The most famous graduate from the programme is Kelvin van der Linde who went on to race – and win – in European sports car series. Sheldon van der Linde followed in his brother’s footsteps and is also racing in one-make series in Europe.
The Champion brand is 109 years old and has a strong pedigree in racing with more than 400 Grand Prix victories, while other notable achievements include being fitted to the Concorde’s Rolls Royce engines and in the original Model T Ford.
MINI has a long tradition of success in rallying dating back to their win in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, a feat repeated in 1965 and 1967. On the circuit, the MINI was successful from the time it hit the tracks of Europe winning the British Saloon Car Championship in 1961, just two years after the car was launched.
20-year-old Chris Shorter is delighted to remain with Signature Motorsport as they enter the exciting new GTC Production category. “The series looks very competitive and there are several new entrants rumoured for 2017. Our rivals have a year’s head-start on us, but I have no doubt that we will be right up there fighting for wins within half a season”.
“It is an honour to represent the re-entry of a prestigious brand like MINI into local motorsport. It will be a challenge for me to adapt to the car and for the team to set it up to extract the maximum from our package. I’m really looking forward to working with the Champion brand and can’t wait for the start of the new season”, Shorter added.
Brad Liebenberg, the 17-year-old runner-up in the VW Cup championship is thrilled to be included in Signature Motorsport’s new racing programme. “I’m really happy to continue my association with Ferodo and I hope to be able to continue delivering the results out on the track. MINI has a long pedigree in motorsport and I hope to be able to add a small chapter to their success story”.
Brad continued: “GTC is a new and growing category and from what I have seen this year, there has been some tremendously close racing in the production car class. Chris and I have the best team behind us and we all work well together. I know Signature Motorsport will engineer a great car and I can’t wait to get out on track to start testing”.