Titanic Sasol GTC Championship battle in prospect at Sasol Race Day

Sandton, South Africa – The Sasol GTC Championship returns to Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria for round six of the touring car series with some epic door-handle-to-door-handle racing in prospect on Saturday, 12th August.

The two championship contenders, Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) and Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) have been trading blows throughout the series so far, going so far as to tangle with each other at the last round in Port Elizabeth.  Bonafede has four victories and four other podium finishes on his scorecard to head the title chase by 29 points from the current Sasol GTC Champion.

Stephen, with five victories and one second place finish to his credit will be aiming to reduce the points gap, while Bonafede is out to grow his margin.  The racing between these two modern-day gladiators is going to be intense and the winners will be the enthusiastic race fans who pack the grandstands come raceday.

The Sasol GTC Championship is anything but a two-horse race:  Robert Wolk, in the second Sasol BMW GTC, is the latest driver to win a round of the competitive series.  On his home track, he is confident of another good showing and aiming to move up from sixth in the championship order, while Simon Moss, in the sister Engen Audi GTC, has led races but has yet to cross the finishing line in first place.  His maiden GTC victory is not far away, and the 2.4km Pretoria circuit could be the venue where he delivers.

Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) is fourth in the standings. The popular Capetonian has been a consistent runner with five podium results. A non-finish at the last round brought him within reach of the first of the Volkswagen factory-entered Jettas GTCs driven by Mathew Hodges who is 11 points behind the BMW privateer.  Hodges is the only other driver to have won a round of the Sasol GTC Championship since the inception of the series last year.

Behind Wolk in the standings is Daniel Rowe in the second factory VW Jetta GTC. Rowe has endured a great deal of bad luck and is due a change in fortune to improve on his best result to date which is a fourth place.  Michael van Rooyen, aka the “Rustenburg Rocket” had his best GTC outing in Port Elizabeth last month in his brightly painted RSC BMW GTC  and came within one corner of his first-ever podium, something he will want to put right at the Sasol Raceday.

GTC2:

Close racing amongst the two-litre, turbopetrol-engined hot hatches is assured as a resumption of the VW Golf GTi vs. MINI John Cooper Works continues unabated.  GTC2 has seen the closest qualifying margin of the year, one-thousandth of a second and the closest race finish, two-tenths of a second so this class is likely to have the crowd on its feet.

Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi) has a comfortable championship lead although he has come under intense pressure from the Signature Motorsport-run Ferodo MINI JCW driven by teenager Brad Liebenberg. Between them they have won seven of the ten races to date, providing scintillating racing all over the country.

Trevor Bland, in his privateer VW Golf GTi has racked up six podium places and moved into second place in the GTC2 championship standings, a position the hard-charging youngster will be keen to maintain.

Liebenberg had a bad weekend in Port Elizabeth last month and will be out to reclaim his form and second place in the title race as he is now under a serious threat from his Champion MINI teammate Chris Shorter, who shone at Aldo Scribante last month with his maiden pole position and victory. Shorter is on a roll and will be at the sharp end of the action.

Seven points further back is Charl Smalberger (iCorp VW Golf GTi) who has five podiums to his name. Another consistent showing and a bad day for his rivals could see him jump up the leaderboard.  Mandla Mdakane took his first GTC2 win at Kyalami in April, but has been off form with a fourth place his best effort since then.  He is a proven winner though and cannot be discounted.

Newcomer Bryn High (S&K Diesel Chev Cruze) caused an upset on his debut last month. Unheard of in racing circles, he put his Cruze on the front row of the grid and romped to his first win, so the GTC2 brigade is wary of this unknown driver.

Moving up from regional saloon racing, Iain Stevenson (Comsol VW Golf GTi) is getting quicker and quicker, as his fourth place finish in PE last month shows.

Qualifying takes place on Friday at 15h55.

The Sasol GTC Championship features a Fan Grid Walk before race one where the public can join the cars and teams on the grid for photos or to chat to their favourite drivers at 11h55. There will be two 17 lap races; the second race features an inverted grid and provides ultimate excitement as the fastest drivers from the first race try to work their way through the entire field.

The Sasol Raceday will be a hive of activity with food stalls, live music, motoring themed stalls and a kids play zone in the pit area.  Tickets cost R 110 for adults and R90 for students and are available from iTicket or at the gate.

Join the conversation on social media using #SasolGTC and visit www.sasolmotorsport.co.za for the latest #Sasol GTC Championship news, broadcast schedules and so much more