The Global Touring Car (GTC) series heads into the downhill half of the season with the championship chase still wide open and the tight Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria beckoning this weekend.
Multiple GTC2 champion, Keagan Masters currently has 153 championship points to his name after swapping his Volkswagen Golf GTi for the flagship GTC Jetta at the beginning of the 2019 season.
Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe, himself a multiple GTC2 champion is only a further eight points back, but more importantly, both are still well within striking distance of the Audi-mounted points leader Simon Moss who is currently sitting on 160 points.
“We have had a very exciting season to date that included race victories and a number of podium finishes as well as few results that we were not completely satisfied with,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.
“Yet, we find ourselves in the perfect position to attack over the second half of the season in our quest to win as many titles as possible.”
The title that every driver is after is the overall Drivers’ championship and with 20 points up for grab for a race victory, there is certainly more than enough time for both Daniel and Keagan to close the gap and climb to the top of the overall standings.
“So far, every circuit we have been to this year was new for me from behind the wheel of the GTC Jetta,” says Masters. “We now return to Zwartkops after racing there in April so I know exactly what to expect and I’m looking forward to fighting for a win.”
Teammate Daniel Rowe has tasted victory at Zwartkops before and is also looking forward to the challenge.
“In a way, Zwartkops is almost like a home race for us. I like the circuit and I think we stand a good chance of winning races and closing the gap to the points leader in the process,” says Rowe. “Since the last round in Port Elizabeth in June, the team worked hard to optimise the performance of the Jetta and to find those extra few fractions of seconds needed to be competive.”
A spanner in both the Volkswagen and Audi works could come from the Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla of Michael van Rooyen.
The Rustenburg Rocket, as he is also known, has already completed his pre-race testing and described the car as ‘flawless’.
“We ran the car for quite a long test session, in order to ensure everything is in perfect condition for the race,” he says. “The car is better than ever, and we have invested a fair amount of track time in setup for Zwartkops, which is always a furious affair.”
“I wouldd like to score as many points as possible this weekend,” continued Van Rooyen, who is currently tied with Johan Fourie (BMW) for fourth place on the log, just five points behind Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe, in third.
“We have every reason to be confident for the next round, but regardless of what happens, fans need to attend the race.”
In the GTC2 category, Volkswagen continues to dominate with youngster Bradley Liebenberg leading the way on 180 points thanks to six victories from eight race starts. The sister car piloted by Adrian Wood has accumulated 153 points, but the Kyocera-backed driver managed to take his maiden victory at the last race making his intentions clear for the second half of the season.
“Our season has been very close to perfect,” said Liebenberg in the week before the Zwartkops race. “The GTi runs perfectly week in and week out and with a great team behind us I can’t see why we should not be able to continue with that kind of form. And at the same time I am also looking forward to fighting it out with my teammate.”
The action at the Zwartkops Raceway will include a number of practice sessions, qualifying and two races.