|What||Global Touring Cars Round 3 Race Report|
|Where||Aldo Scribante, Gqeberha EP|
|When||Saturday 29 May 2021|
|Community||South Africa National|
Robbie takes overall win and championship lead
Investchem Racing’s Robert Wolk was the star of the Global Touring Car show at Gqeberha’s Aldo Scribante National Extreme Festival Nationals on Saturday. Wolk put his Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla on pole position before taking an emphatic first race win. He then fought from the back of the reverse grid second race grid to challenge for the lead in a dramatic finish, coming home second in the end to win the day and move back into a slender GTC championship lead.
Teammates, Julian van der Watt celebrated his new title sponsor in style when he fought his way to a fine second in heat 1 aboard the Autozone Ford Focus, with Scott Temple fourth in the second Chemical Logistics Corolla. Both drivers however fell victim to dramas in the half-hour second race off attrition.
The weekend started on the front foot for the Investchem GTC lads with Wolk on pole position, van der Watt third and Temple fourth on the grid. Lee Thompson was a happy second in the Universal Health BMW, but it was a tough start for Wolk's chief rival Michael van Rooyen, who was hit with an overboost penalty to slip from fourth to sixth behind Gazoo Toyota Corolla teammate Mandla Mdkane.
Wolk then charged off to an emphatic first race win, setting the fastest lap as he went. Behind him, van der Watt overcame Lee Thompson to keep Wolk honest throughout, with Thompson in chase from Temple, who crucially held van Rooyen at bay with Mdkane sixth. Those six started the 30 minute second race in reverse order, as van Rooyen took the lead at the start and made off up front.
Roadblock Mdkane did his best to keep the rest at bay, which played into Wolk’s hands. Robert managed to take advantage of the scrapping others and quickly found a way through to second, but van Rooyen was long gone. Mdkane meanwhile succeeded in keeping van der Watt, Temple and Thompson at bay until lap 13, when Temple made a move around the outside of the hairpin, but the two collided and Temple was left stranded in the dirt on the outside.
Van der Watt used the opportunity to pounce on Thompson, but a rear control arm broke on the Ford and he too spun wildly before joining Temple and Mdkane in the pits with the teams frantically trying to sort their stricken machines. Wolk had meanwhile whittled the lead down and was right on van Rooyen’s rear bumper into a dramatic final tour as the duo also dealt with lapped traffic. They were side by side into the final corner, but Michael held on to take a super close win.
“That was almost a perfect race weekend,” Robert Wolk admitted. “Special thanks to Ian Schofield, Stuart Thompson and the WCT Engineering team for a great car — that one was for you guys and the great effort we have all put in to make it happen. “I had great pace from the start of race 1 and the car was great throughout and now we have finally won a race too!
“The second race was a different challenge! “I managed to take advantage of the fight to pass Mandla and get up to second quickly enough from my reverse grid sixth, but Michael was long gone so I just put my head down and closed the gap right down. I got alongside into the final turn, but it was the wrong side! What a race! “Now we look ahead to East London early in July — this championship is turning into a huge fight and I'm enjoying every battle along the way."
Julian van der Watt was happy with race 1 in the Investchem Focus “My first race as an Autozone driver was great — I jumped Lee off the start and chased Robbie all the way to finish second. “The second race was a different story! “Mandla did a pretty good job of keeping us all behind! “Then when we’d finally got the cork out the bottle, I had a suspension failure and had a big spin. “The team did their best to try get me out, but that’s racing — thanks to the guys for a great effort.”
Scott Temple also enjoyed a positive weekend. “The first race was good,” Scott reflected. “I had a great dice under huge pressure from Michael but I held him off for fourth which was great for me and crucial for the team and the championship. “The second race was a challenge — it was difficult to find a way past Mandla. “Then we made contact, which hurt the car — it was a racing incident, but hats off to the team, which did very well to get me back out again.”
Team manager Stuart Thompson was delighted with pole position, a race win and an overall victory with the fastest laps, too. “Robert proved he’s the pick of the GTC bunch right now.” Stuart explained. “That was a brilliant win and tribute to a great team effort in the lead up to this weekend and we leave PE in the championship lead. “It was a good, tough weekend for Julian and Robert too, even though they made us work for our living in race 2! “A great effort all-round.”
“All that's left to do is to compliment every member of our team for an incredible effort this weekend,” Investchem Racing team boss Ian Schofield concluded. “Robbie was the star of the show — his second race charge was just brilliant and he comes away leading the title chase. He, Scott and Julian have now won three of the six races so far this year. “Now we start our preparations for East London where the fight will continue on 3 July. “Bring it on!”
Issued on behalf of Investchem GTC Racing
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