Volkswagen is the 2019 Manufacturers Champion in the GTC2 category of the Global Touring Cars series following the weekend’s Extreme Festival, held at Killarney Raceway – leaving the top-level GTC Manufacturers title still to claim at the final round in a couple of week’s time.
Round 7 of the GTC series was not the easiest of weekends for the Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa team, made all the more challenging due to unseasonably hot conditions throughout the event. And the on-track action was just as intense as the weather, with Saturday’s crucial qualifying session seeing
Volkswagen’s championship leader Keagan Masters emerge as the fastest of the Jetta drivers in third place, less than nine hundredths of a second off the pole position time of Simon Moss (Audi). Daniel Rowe finished the session in sixth place, a mere 0,293 sec off the leader.
In the first race the Volkswagen Motorsport drivers were involved in an exciting battle for third place with Michael van Rooyen (Toyota), with Rowe claiming the advantage to moved ahead of the group.
With Van Rooyen running into trouble, Masters was then embroiled in a fast-paced tussle with Robert Wolk, but it unfortunately went awry on the final banked turn before the pit straight. A mid-corner clash sent both cars off the track, and although they both got going again, with Masters crossing the line in third place, he was later penalised for the incident and classified sixth.
Rowe had been perfectly placed to grab a well-deserved podium finish, only for his car to cut out heading onto the pit straight on the second-last lap. He eventually got going again but had to settle for fourth in the final results.
In the reversed-grid second heat, Masters managed a clean race and finished third. Moss crossed the line fourth, but he too was handed a three-place penalty for knocking Johan Fourie (BMW) off the circuit.
Despite the Volkswagen Motorsport crew’s efforts to resolve the issue with Rowe’s car, the technical glitch resurfaced in race two in exactly the same spot on the track. Fortunately, he got the car going again and ended sixth, but was promoted to fifth place due to the penalty handed to Moss.
In the provisional championship standings, the podium finish ensured that Masters retains the lead of the GTC championship going into the title-deciding final round at Red Star Raceway at the end of October. Rowe remains in fourth place, and among the contenders for the prized 2019 title.
It was an excellent weekend for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Michael van Rooyen, when the Toyota Corolla driver finished third in Race 1, and improved to second in Race 2 – leaving him tied for second in the title fight, just two points adrift.
As expected, the GTC2 class featured a two-way battle between points leader Bradley Liebenberg and team-mate Adrian Wood in the two Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi entries. Wood claimed the advantage in qualifying, beating Liebenberg by 0.045 seconds.
In the first race Wood enjoyed an unchallenged flag-to-flag victory, while Liebenberg suffered brake issues that resulting in him dropping down to fourth place. The second race saw the finishing order reversed, with Liebenberg taking the win and Wood having to settle for the second step on the podium.
The next round of GTC takes place at Red Star Raceway in Delmas, east of Johannesburg, on 25 and 26 October.