With four out of six starts converted to wins, the Volkswagen team was determined to head the proceedings in its hometown at Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth at the weekend and, it was clear from Friday’s practice sessions that the Volkswagen Golf 8 was going to be competitive.
When Saturday’s qualifying session arrived, the team was determined to convert the pace into good results. That’s exactly what they did when Daniel Rowe recorded a fastest time of 1:01,450 seconds. Teammate Keagan Masters set a time just 0,003 slower than Rowe, ensuring an all-blue front row for the first race.
Rowe then went on to convert his pole position into a flag to flag victory after controlling the race from the front while Masters was forced to relinquish his second position late in the race.
The pre-race practice sessions were promising for Toyota Gazoo Racing, with Michael van Rooyen just two tenths off the early pace set by the two factory VW Golfs. Qualifying, however, brought disappointment, as Van Rooyen managed only the 6th-fastest time and Mandla Mdakane, in the sister-Corolla, was 5th.
The first of three races at the challenging Aldo Scribante Raceway brought more woes for the TGRSA drivers, as they both struggled with wiring problems, resulting in misfires during the race. They recorded a 5th place (Mdakane) and a 6th for Van Rooyen.
Race 2 saw a very similar result for VW, but this time it was Masters who controlled it to claim his second victory of the season while Rowe ended up on the final step of the podium in third. The two Golfs started the final race of the day from second and fourth on the grid respectively. Masters and Rowe were quick off the line but on the outside line for turn one where contact between Masters and another competitor sent the Golf onto the grass and seemingly out of the race.
Two turns further and more contact ensued. This time between Rowe and one of the rival competitors. The organisers had no choice but to stop the race to allow the marshals to retrieve the stricken cars.
The race resumed a few minutes later with both Golfs forced to start from the pitlane. Both Masters and Rowe were soon near the front of the field before smoke inside the cockpit of the Masters car forced the young driver to return to the pits in order for the team to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, Rowe maintained his pace to record a second place finish to complete a successful day for the team.
Race 2 brought a better start for Van Rooyen, who leap-frogged from 5th on the grid to third place – a position he retained until two laps from the finish, when a broken sensor wire forced him to retire from the race. An electrical issue also plagued Mdakane, who coasted over the finish line in 8th place, after his car’s engine cut out in the final turn.
“We have definitely established ourselves as the team to beat,” said Daniel Rowe shortly after the last race. “The team did a great job with the car and it is a privilege to be a part of the entire team effort.”
Behind the leading GTC cars, the new SupaCup category is also proving extremely competitive. The series has turned into a tough battle between 2019 Polo Cup champion Bradley Liebenberg, 2018 Polo Cup champion Jeffrey Kruger and 2016 Volkswagen Driver Search winner Jonathan Mogotsi.
In Port Elizabeth, it was Liebenberg who stamped his authority on the series by claiming three consecutive victories. Kruger finished right on his rear bumper on each occasion with Mogotsi in hot pursuit.
The SupaCup category of the GTC series will now head for Gauteng where they will do one more battle at the Zwartkops Raceway to the west of Pretoria. All eyes will be on Kruger and Liebenberg. Since the SupaCup competitors will complete four rounds of racing in 2020, Motorsport South Africa’s regulations will allow for a champion to be declared and both Kruger and Liebenberg will want to add another title to their already long list of motor sport achievements. The race is scheduled for 6 and 7 November 2020.