Friendly City delivers top drawer action
The Sasol GTC Championship war delivered an epic battle in Port Elizabeth’s fifth round at the Aldo Scribante circuit, when local stats thrilled an impressive home crowd and surprise results were the story of a great day’s racing.
Michael Stephen delivered a hard-fought lights-to-flag race 1 victory in his Engen Audi to give home team Terry Moss Racing a 1-2 over teammate Simon Moss with championship leader Gennaro Bonafede ’s Sasol BMW looming large in third, before the reverse grid second race saw Robert Wolk open up an early lead he would not relinquish to lead home overall winner for the day Moss, with the other local team, Volkswagen Motorsport’s Mathew Hodges keeping home fans smiling in third.
GTC2 saw local wildcard Bryn High trounce the opposition to score an emphatic debut win in the opening race aboard his S&K Diesels/Brights Chevrolet Cruze, ahead of fellow privateers Trevor Bland (TB Volkswagen Golf GTI) and Charl Smalberger (iCorp Volkswagen Parts Golf GTI). The works gained revenge in that reverse race 2 as Christopher Shorter brought his Champion Mini in first ahead of Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI driver Keagan Masters and Charl Smalberger, whose second third on the day brought him overall honours too.
GTC - drama all the way
Stephen led the first race off pole position, but it was no simple task as the top five cars circulated in close company with Moss making his Engen Audi teammate work for his win, while keeping Bonafede’s menacing BMW at bay too, with Fourie and van Rooyen also in close attendance. The top three were ultimately split by just 0.8 seconds at the flag after Fourie and van Rooyen fell back to end three seconds off the pace and ahead of Rowe, Hodges and Wolk.
The second reverse grid race saw Wolk, Hodges and Rowe on the front of the grid with the first race winners at the back. Pole man Wolk made off at the start, never to be headed again as he left the drama in his wake to claim a delighted first victory. He initially led van Rooyen, Rowe, Bonafede, Moss and Stephen, but Stephen made it past Moss before he and Bonafede made contact and both cars fell off the track, dropping down the field.
That left Moss to catch and pass van Rooyen and chase after Wolk, while Fourie had come from behind to run fourth, but he retired to leave Wolk leading Moss, van Rooyen, Hodges, Stephen and Bonafede as the drivers managed their tyres on the super-abrasive Aldo Scribante surface. Not much happened until the dice for third became heated and van Rooyen and Rowe made contact on the penultimate lap, eliminating the Volkswagen, while van Rooyen limped home in the BMW allowing Hodges to steal third ahead the recovering championship contenders Stephen and Bonafede.
GTC2 - A shock Hiding
The opening GTC2 race was quite straightforward — pole man Christopher Shorter left the track on the opening lap leaving local hero Bryn High to command his debut GTC2 race from the front, initially leading Smalberger before Bland passed his fellow Golf GTI privateer to come home in that order in a garagiste 1-2-3. Keagan Masters was the best of the works in fourth ahead of another privateer, Iain Stevenson and the Minis of Shorter and Bradley Liebenberg with Mandla Mdakane eighth in the other factory VW.
Christopher Shorter made amends for his first race heartbreak to lead race 2 from lights to flag, leaving Masters to initially flight off Stevenson and then deal with the recovering GTC cars of Stephen and Bonafede en route to second. Charl Smalberger meanwhile drove a great race, picking off Liebenberg, Mdkane and Stevenson to end up third to steal the overall win for the day.
There was quite a lot of action behind Charl as Stevenson ended up fourth from race 1 winner Bryn High, who similarly picked off Mdakane, Liebenberg and Bland, but was prevented from doing anything about Stevenson when he was lapped by race winner Wolk just before the line.
GTC delivered another two great races in Port Elizabeth - one could cover the race 1 leaders with a blanket, while race 2 provided plenty drama as the championship leaders collided and then the battle for third erupted leaving a new winner to claim first victory.
Sasol GTC returns to Zwartkops for the sixth round of the championship Saturday 12 August - diarise that now - the Pretoria racetrack can be guaranteed to deliver fraught Global Touring Car action as always…
Sasol Global Touring Cars
Port Elizabeth Race 1 Results
1. Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) 10 laps - 11 min 05.543 sec
2. Simon Moss (Engen Audi GTC) +0.386 sec
3. Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) +0.813 sec
4. Johan Fourie (EPS BMW GTC) +3.110 sec
5. Michael Van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) +3.462 sec
6. Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) +5.305 sec
7. Mathew Hodges (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) +9.388 sec
8. Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) +9.694 sec
1. Bryn High (S&K Diesels/Brights Chevrolet Cruze) 11 min 54.073 sec
2. Trevor Bland (TB Volkswagen Golf GTI) +1.489 sec
3. Charl Smalberger (iCorp Volkswagen Parts Golf GTI) +2.414 sec
4. Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI) +10.067 sec
5. Iain Stevenson (Comsol Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI) +11.672 sec
6. Christopher Shorter (Champion Mini JCW) +14.760 sec
7. Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini JCW) +16.907 sec
8. Mandla Mdakane (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI) +18.593 sec
1. Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) 16 laps 16 min 56.172 sec
2. Simon Moss (Engen Audi GTC) +1.460 sec
3. Mathew Hodges (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) +7.607 sec
4. Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) +11.636 sec
5. Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) +12.581 sec
6. Michael Van Rooyen (RSC BMW GTC) +50.665 sec
7. Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) +1m 56.44 8 sec
DNF 14 Johan Fourie (EPS BMW GTC) 7 laps
1. Christopher Shorter (Champion Mini JCW) 16 laps 17m 53.004 sec
2. Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI) +0.283 sec
3. Charl Smalberger (iCorp Volkswagen Parts Golf GTI) +10.744 sec
4. Iain Stevenson (Comsol Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI) +12.731 sec
5. Bryn High (S&K Diesels/Brights Chevrolet Cruze) +1 lap
6. Mandla Mdakane (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI) +1 lap
7. Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini JCW) +1 lap
8. Trevor Bland (TB Volkswagen Golf GTI) +1 lap