The Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship is set for its closest finish to date with both class titles still undecided heading into the season finale at Red Star Raceway this weekend (October 25-26).
Volkswagen Motorsport drivers Keagan Masters and Brad Liebenberg are heading up the respective GTC and GTC2 points tables, but they’ll both be hounded by fierce rivals as Round 8 will be held in unknown territory; the Delmas circuit being a new addition to the 2019 calendar and one that GTC has not contested previously.
Red Star Raceway was included in on the 2018 calendar, but the season finale for that year was moved to Zwartkops Raceway following a change of governing body affiliation by the previous owners of the circuit. Originally built as a private superbike testing circuit, the 4km circuit first started hosting four-wheel races in 2016. Featuring a balance of fast straights and 13 looping corners, it’s one of the few circuits used both clockwise and counter-clockwise; the former being the configuration for this weekend’s season finale.
The primary battle in GTC will be between Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) on 262 points and Simon Moss (Moss Racing / Audi / AllPower) and Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa); both two points adrift. Moss dominated the early part of the season, but technical issues and incidents saw him lose ground in the latter half. This saw Masters take the lead following Round 6 after his maiden win and a host of consistent podium finishes. As reigning GTC2 Champion, Masters will also be spurred on by the idea of winning the premier class title on debut.
But the real surprise is Van Rooyen, as the Rustenberg-based driver is the only one heading into the weekend without a single race win in the past four years. In its debut season, the Toyota team has delivered a host of good results to find themselves in a position to challenge for the title, and also with mathematical chance of Van Rooyen being able to take the title without having a win to his name.
Further back, but also still in with a chance is Johan Fourie (EPS Courier Services BMW) and Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta). Both drivers are tied on 247 points and are already battling for their best finish to the season. Fourie is one of the drivers with prior experience at the circuit, with Red Star Raceway being his designated test circuit. In addition, he has completed a race weekend in a regional category in 2019 which provided him with further knowledge in race-trim around the circuit. For Rowe this will be a new experience, but there’s no lack of motivation for Rowe who’ll be eager to make his mark in the final round of what has been a strong season for the Volkswagen Motorsport team.
Robert Wolk (Chemical Logitics BMW) has proved to be both fast and an expert in Race 2 reverse-gird conditions. With two wins already behind his name for the year, he’ll be looking to add another to his tally, as will Moss’ teammate Tschops Sipuka.
In GTC2, the title will be decided between the Volkswagen Motorsport Golf pair of Brad Liebenberg and the Kyocera-partnered Adrian Wood. Liebenberg finds himself in a comfortable position needing only 12 points to secure the title with the last race to spare, regardless of where Wood will finish. The latter will be determined to end his season on a high and complete a one-two for the team. Wood is the other driver with prior experience in regional level at the circuit.
Charl Smalberger (Universal HealthCare Volkswagen Golf) will be pushing hard for a strong finish as well. A title contender merely two rounds ago, Smalberger’s retirement in the second race of Round 7 sees him now trailing Wood by 24 points. Paul Hill (Kalex Volkswagen Golf) won the last race held at high altitude and will also be looking to repeat this performance while finishing the season in fourth place.
Friday will see the drivers participating in four 20 minute practice session. Saturday will see them on for an early-morning warm-up session ahead of Qualifying at 09:10. Both races will be contested over 10 laps will start at 12:20 and 14:30 respectively. Prior to Race 1 there will be a grid walk at 11:50.
For more information head to www.gtcafrica.co.za