All to do for home hero Stephen at Aldo
The Sasol Global Touring Car Championship heads to Port Elizabeth for the fifth round of the 2017 championship when the Extreme Festival hits the Aldo Scribante racetrack for the Volkswagen National Race Day Saturday 15 July, with a thrilling weekend of racing in prospect highlighted by a significant level of home town interest in the premier series races.
Port Elizabeth team Terry Moss Racing and its PE drivers, multiple SA and reigning GTC champion Michael Stephen and his young teammate Simon Moss will continue in their quest to retain SA’s biggest race crown in front of a partisan crowd on Saturday. Stephen and Moss sit second and third in the GTC title chase behind Jozi Sasol BMW GTC driver Gennaro Bonafede and they will be out to maximise their hometown advantage at Aldo Scribante.
Last race saw gripping competition between Bonafede and local Stephen at the Zwartkops raceway, with each driver winning a race apiece, so this one coming holds just as much excitement for competitors and fans alike — especially with the prospect of a door-banging reverse second grid heat to ensure top drawer entertainment.
The Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta GTCs bring further local interest, with Volkswagen South Africa based just around the corner at Uitenhage and local lad Daniel Rowe at the wheel of one of the cars, while teammate Mathew Hodges has been knocking on the door for a win following impressive performances in the last heats in the battle for third in the second factory VW Motorsport Jetta GTC.
Never ignore top privateer Johan Fourie in his EPS Couriers BMW GTC or the similar cars of Robert Wolk, who has found a recent turn of speed in the second Sasol BWM GTC and the quick Michael van Rooyen in his spectacular yellow and green Rustenburg Steel Construction BMW GTC.
The main Sasol Global Touring Car interest however remains up front where PE home hero Michael Stephen and his Engen Audi GTC continues in his relentless chase of Gennaro Bonafede’s championship lead in the Sasol BMW GTC. Bonafede had a strong start to the season to establish a sizeable championship lead, while Stephen struggled in the opening three races.
But Stephen won race 4 at Kyalami and he’s won three of the four races since at East London and Zwartkops, while ending second to Bonafede in the other Zwartkops heat. Bonafede dropped a race in East London and was only third to Michael in the Zwartkops opener, to set up a thrilling title chase with ten races still to run.
So expect Stephen and his Engen Audi team to come out all guns blazing and set to eke out every ounce of their home town advantage, while Bonafede and the Sasol BMW squad would clearly love to stick it to them at home. We know where we want to be come 15 July — why not join us for some spectacular racing at Aldo Scribante!
Sasol GTC Championship Points
1. Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) - 325
2. Michael Stephen (Engen Audi A3 GTC) - 266
3. Simon Moss (Engen Audi A3 GTC) - 231
4. Johan Fourie (EPS BMW GTC) - 180
5. Mathew Hodges (VW Motorsport Jetta GTC) - 158
6. Daniel Rowe (VW Motorsport Jetta GTC) - 75
7. Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) -73
8. Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) - 32
There’s a similar wrought going down in Sasol GTC2, which also gains a fresh dose of local PE interest at Aldo Scribante.
Like Gennaro Bonafede in the top class, VW Motorsport’s young Golf GTI charger Keagan Masters built up a strong GTC2 title advantage in the early season, but he’s now come under championship attack from Ferodo Mini driver Bradley Liebenberg, who has won three of the last four races to Masters’ one.
What’s more is that Liebenberg’s Mini teammate Christopher Shorter came on form to add extra spice in the Champion Mini at Zwartkops and the VW Polo Cup champion will be itching for his first GTC2 win too, while quick VW privateers Trevor Bland (TBR Golf GTI) and Charl Smalberger (iCorp VW Parts Golf GTI) and Mandla Mdkane in the other factory Golfs are all capable of upturning the applecart.
But wait, there’s more — Iain Stevenson will be out to make up for his early shower after a crash in the Comsol Golf GTI at Zwartkops and Dayne Angel’s Autohaus Angel Honda Cvic Type R should be back and most competitive in Port Elizabeth after sitting Zwartkops out to properly prepare that new car, so expect GTC fireworks in PE.
If that’s not all, there’s some pretty exciting local flavour courtesy of PE lad Bryn High, who may well prove a major GTC2 factor as he debuts his S&K Diesels/Brights Chevrolet Cruze. It should be noted that this car was most competitive in its final outing before High acquired the car when wildcard Kosie Weyers led most of the way, out of the blue in East London and that High has been impressive in his antics in local PE races in preparation.
All of which points to another most entertaining weekend of Sasol GTC racing in Port Elizabeth - see you at Aldo Scribante!
1. Keagan Masters (VW Motorsport Golf GTI) - 326
2. Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini JCW) - 231
3. Trevor Bland (TB Racing VW Golf GTI) - 223
4. Charl Smalberger (iCorp/VW Parts Golf GTI) - 161
5. Christopher Shorter (Champion Mini JCW) - 157
6. Mandla Mdkane (VW Motorsport Golf GTI ) - 138
7. Iain Stevenson (Comsol VW Golf GTI) - 32
8. Kosie Weyers (Chevrolet Cruze) - 31
9. Dayne Angel (Honda Civic) - 6
Sasol GTC’s Aldo Scribante Weekend at a Glance
Friday 14 July
08h40 - Free Practice 1 - 20 minutes
11h00 - Free Practice 2 - 20 minutes
14h55 - Free Practice 3 - 20 minutes
15h45 - GTC Qualifying - 10 minutes
16h00 - GTC2 Qualifying - 10 minutes
Saturday 15 July
10h00 - Warm Up - 10 minutes
12h45 - Grid Walk - 15 minutes
13h15 - Race 1 - 10 laps
15h15 - Race 2 - 15 laps
About the Sasol GTC Championship
A revolutionary, affordable and professional racing series, the Sasol GTC Championship represents a revival in South African Circuit Racing. Affordable, yet serious, the Sasol GTC Championship caters for a growing field of world-class race cars designed to thrill race fans and tempt consumers.
Based loosely on Australian Supercar racing and to an extent the BTCC, GTC cars carry the same body as their street kin wrapped around a purpose-built race chassis and running gear but powered by an engine from the maker’s range, or a GTC-supplied mill. The GTC ethos of racing cars with common specification tyres, suspension and many other components ensures that costs are kept to a minimum, while at the same time equalising performance between competing cars.
GTC2 caters for near-standard turbo 2-litre powered hot hatchbacks as a breeding ground of future South African race stars. Now in its second season.
Follow the Sasol GTC Championship
The 2017 Sasol GTC Calendar
25 Mar - Killarney Raceway, Cape Town
22 Apr - Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, Johannesburg
20 May - East London Grand Prix Circuit
17 Jun - Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria
15 Jul - Aldo Scribante, Port Elizabeth
06 Aug - Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria
09 Sep - Killarney Raceway, Cape Town
04 Nov - Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, Johannesburg
25 Nov - Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria