Sandton, South Africa – The Sasol GTC Championship enters the penultimate round of an exciting 2017 season with the championship title now between just two drivers who have dominated the season so far. The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit hosts the eighth round on November 4, with the latest instalment of the premier touring car series set to deliver another thrilling tussle between the country’s top racing drivers.
Michael Stephen, the reigning Sasol GTC Champion, leads the standings by 43 points having powered his Engen Xtreme Audi GTC to eight race victories and two second place finishes across the 14 races held around the country since March. Stephen’s year got off to a sluggish start, but has since reeled in the season-long championship leader Gennaro Bonafede, who started the season with a bang after racing his Sasol Turbofuels™ Plus BMW GTC car into first place in the opening three races.
While Stephen gained momentum as the season progressed, Bonafede’s season low point came at Zwartkops in August where he lost the championship lead to his rival. Cape Town’s Killarney Raceway hosted the last round where honours were even between the two title chasers; taking a win and a second place apiece, leaving the championship race wide open.
Whatever happens at Kyalami, the championship cannot be won until the final round in late November.
The only other driver to have won a race of the Sasol GTC Championship is Robert Wolk in the #41 Sasol Turbofuels™ Plus BMW GTC race car in Port Elizabeth, back in July. He is ranked sixth in the standings, but will now be expected to help the team in their championship fight. Likewise, Simon Moss in the second Engen Xtreme Audi GTC, third in the title race with 10 podium results to his credit, will have to put his ambitions aside to help the team in their quest, so a massive four-way fight is going to keep the Kyalami fans on the edge of their seats.
Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) is fourth in the series standings with six podiums against his name and will be going all out to bank his maiden GTC victory while fending off Mathew Hodges in the leading factory Volkswagen Jetta GTC, who is only 20 points behind the BMW driver. Hodges has flown the VW flag high with four podium finishes and has set his sights on moving up the log order before season’s end.
Wolk is between a rock and a hard place as another top result will take him within reach of Hodges, while Daniel Rowe in the second Volkswagen Jetta GTC is a slender six points away. Rowe has endured the worst of VW’s luck this year, but showed that he is quite capable of banking podium results, which he has done twice this year.
Rounding out the GTC log is Michael van Rooyen in his RSC BMW GTC. One of the sport’s great characters, the affectionately named Rustenburg Rocket has a number of results just off the podium and his objective for the remainder of the year is to secure a top three result.
Keagan Masters, the champion-elect, has a healthy 144 point lead following six victories and four other podium results and is likely to give Volkswagen Motorsport a much deserved victory at Kyalami. The 17 year-old Golf GTi driver had a solid performance in his class while the Golf is a well-developed racing car.
The fight of the GTC 2 class is a four-way racing tussle between the current runner-up Trevor Bland (TB Golf GTi), Charl Smalberger (iCorp VW GTi), Chris Shorter (Champion MINI JCW) and Brad Liebenberg in his Ferodo MINI JCW. Between them, they have banked seven victories and 20 podiums in spectacular motorsport entertainment throughout the season.
The MINI duo has four victories, three to Liebenberg and one to Shorter, while Bland and Smalberger have a win apiece. The quintet must keep an eye out for Mandla Mdakane in the second works VW Golf GTi, who won at Kyalami in April. Mandla certainly has the credentials and pedigree to upset the final points order. Iain Stevenson has swapped his Golf for a Comsol-backed Honda Civi Type-R to take on Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda Civic Type-R) who has been using the six week break for racing development purposes to get to the front of the grid. Three newcomers in the class are the Volkswagen trio of Nick Adcock, Darryn Lobb and Johan Pretorius, joining the GTC2 grid to take on the regular runners.
The Sasol GTC Championship features the popular fan grid walk before the first race, while the second race sees the cars start in the reverse order, an exciting race format that has seen some exceptional driving throughout the year.
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[Issued by Sasol]