Brian Joss – The second half of the 2019 Global Touring Car Series, South Africa’s premier circuit racing formula, is set to start on this weekend, 26 and 27 July, when the respective championship battles will take place at Pretoria’s Zwartkops Raceway.
Volkswagen’s drivers in the GTC category are currently second and third respectively on the points table thanks to consistent performances so far, but the focus will now shift to race victories in order to take over the top spot.
Multiple GTC2 champion, Keagan Masters currently has 153 championship points to his name after swapping his Volkswagen Golf GTi for the flagship GTC Jetta at the beginning of the 2019 season. Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe, himself a multiple GTC2 champion is only a further eight points back, but more importantly, both are still well within striking distance of the points leader (Simon Moss) who is currently sitting on 160 points.
“We’ve had a very exciting season to date that included race victories and a number of podium finishes as well as few results that we weren’t completely satisfied with,” commented Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “Yet, we find ourselves in the perfect position to attack over the second half of the season in our quest to win as many titles as possible.” The title that every driver is after is the overall Drivers’ championship and with 20 points up for grab for a race victory, there is certainly more than enough time for both Daniel and Keagan to close the gap and climb to the top of the overall standings. “So far, every circuit that we’ve been to this year was new for me from behind the wheel of the GTC Jetta,” commented Masters. “We now return to Zwartkops after racing there in April so I know exactly what to expect and I’m looking forward to fighting for a win.”
Teammate Daniel Rowe has tasted victory at Zwartkops before and is also looking forward to the challenge. “In a way, Zwartkops is almost like a home race for us. I like the circuit and I think we stand a good chance of winning races and closing the gap to the points leader in the process,” said Rowe. Since the last round in Port Elizabeth in June, the team worked hard to optimise the performance of the Jetta and to find those extra few fractions of seconds needed to be competive.
In the GTC2 category, Volkswagen continues to dominate with youngster Bradley Liebenberg leading the way on 180 points thanks to six victories from eight race starts. The sister car piloted by Adrian Wood has accumulated 153 points, but the Kyocera-backed driver managed to take his maiden victory at the last race making his intentions clear for the second half of the season. “Our season has been very close to perfect,” said Liebenberg in the week before the Zwartkops race. “The GTi runs perfectly week in and week out and with a great team behind us I can’t see why we shouldn’t be able to continue with that kind of form. And at the same time I am also looking forward to fighting it out with my teammate.”
Now that Wood has tasted victory, he will certainly want more: “We’ve been working very hard to try and close the gap to Bradley throughout the season so it was great to claim a victory in Port Elizabeth. The plan is now to obviously try and do it again at Zwartkops.”
While all of Volkswagen Motorsport’s drivers will be after race wins and maximum points, teamboss Mike Rowe will ensure that the Volkswagen brand stays at the top of the points table for manufacturers. “It’s a fine line to balance the need to win races but also keep the bigger picture in mind,”
added Mike Rowe. “I’m proud of the work the team has done behind the scenes and quietly confident that our drivers will deliver when the lights turn green at Zwartkops,” he concluded.
The action at the Zwartkops Raceway will include a number of practice sessions, qualifying and two races.
CAPTION: Keagan Masters: second on drivers’ points table. Picture: Motorpress