It is the sharp end of the racing season and the penultimate round of the 2020 Global Touring Car (GTC) series heads to Zwartkops Raceway with Robert Wolk (Toyota Corolla) enjoying a 10-point lead over Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Michael van Rooyen.
“It really has been a tough fight between the two of us this year,” says Van Rooyen. “I tend to be fast in qualifying and the first race, but then I find myself at a disadvantage in the second race of each weekend, as the reverse grid comes into play.”
Van Rooyen has recorded by far the most wins (5) of any of the GTC drivers in 2021. However, he has struggled to score meaningful points in the second race of the weekend, as he often starts at the back of the grid due to the reverse grid rules of the championship.
“Robbie has scored only two wins, but he has backed that up with seven second-place finishes, which has given him a slight edge in the standings,” continues Van Rooyen. “I often find myself fighting not only Robbie, but also his teammate (Scott Temple), which makes it difficult to finish higher than third place in the second race.”
Despite the challenges, the Rustenburg Rocket is looking forward to this weekend’s rounds at the Zwartkops Raceway, near Pretoria: “This is our home circuit, and one that we know really well. We’ve traditionally done well here, and we’re hoping for a good result this weekend.”
At the same time, teammate Mandla Mdakane will be hoping for a better performance at Round 6. The Johannesburg-based driver has struggled with reliability and form all season, and will be aiming to improve on his sixth position in the championship by scoring meaningful points this weekend.
Things are not as clear cut in the SupaCup category of the Global Touring Cars (GTC) series where no less than five drivers are all still within striking distance of winning one of the most coveted titles in South African motorsport.
Currently, it is advantage to the defending champion Bradley Liebenberg who has amassed a total of 164 points so far courtesy of four victories, two pole positions and three fastest laps. His lead is just 7 points over Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jonathan Mogotsi who earned his points by setting the fastest lap on two occasions and claiming his maiden victory in the series back in May.
Jeffrey Kruger has closed the gap somewhat during the latter part of the season and is still within striking distance on 140 points, while the chances for young Saood Variawa (102 points) and Jason Campos (100) to claim the title can be described as mathematical at best.
Someone who has claimed numerous Polo Cup pole positions and fastest laps is Leyton Fourie. The Johannesburg-based driver has qualified in pole position no less than four times so far in 2021, earning a stack of bonus points in the process.
The young driver also bagged maximum points by taking five victories, earning him a total of 217 points for the season. His nearest rival is Arnold Neveling who has been very consistent throughout the season with a number of fastest laps to his name.
His current points tally is standing on 196, just 3 points ahead of Capetonian Jurie Swart who himself qualified in pole on two occasions and took a total of four race wins for a tally of 193 points. A number of steady performances sees the name of Clinton Bezuidenhout in fourth and still in with a chance of claiming the title, albeit an outside one.
“It is impossible or even foolish to try and make any predictions in motor sport,” commented Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “The one thing we do know is that both title fights will go down to the wire as there are very talented and determined drivers fighting for both. Fourie currently has the momentum on his side and will be hard to stop in the Volkswagen Polo Cup while we expect Mogotsi and Kruger to take the fight to Liebenberg when the lights go green in SupaCup. Fans will be in for a treat.”
One more race follows after this weekend, with the season concluding at Kyalami during the first weekend of December, 2021.