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The third season of the Sasol GTC Championship is set to begin in earnest this weekend as the first of nine rounds kicks off at the Kayalmi Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand (March 23-24).

Having last competed in November last year, the Sasol GTC Championship welcomes back reigning champion Michael Stephen from the Engen Xtreme Team, after taking his second consecutive Sasol GTC title ahead of rival Gennaro Bonafede from the Sasol GTC Racing Team, and third-placed fellow Audi driver Simon Moss who broke through for his first two wins in GTC at that final round of 2017.

Eight of the nine rounds this season will form part of the Extreme Festival, with another addition to the 2018 calendar being a championship around at the Festival of Motoring at Kyalami in August, where tens of thousands of people from around South Africa will come to celebrate all things motorsport and automotive.

“During every season, it is important that GTC grows from the last, and without doubt, our competitive standards increased exponentially in 2017 with more race winners than before and more intense racing that we will remember for seasons to come,” said GTC director Gary Formato. “We’re working harder than ever to ensure that we showcase GTC to huge crowds all around South Africa, and we’re excited to get the championship started at a world-class racing circuit like Kyalami this weekend.”

The existing eight-car Sasol GTC field returns in 2018, with Robert Wolk back in the second Sasol BMW GTC. Wolk claimed his maiden victory at round five last year and intends to fully exploit the lessons learned in his first GTC season and translate them into solid points-paying results.

The Volkswagen camp is bullish ahead of the new season after Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe powered their Jetta GTCs to the front of the field towards the end of the 2017 season. Off season development should see the Jettas provide top drawer motortainment for South African racing fans.

Johan Fourie became the first privateer to win a GTC race when he raced his EPS Couriers-sponsored BMW to the chequered flag at Kyalami in November last year. Consistent scoring and podiums last year saw Fourie finish fourth in the final standings and marks him as a real championship contender in the coming year.

Michael van Rooyen, affectionately racing the Rustenburg Rocket, claimed his maiden podium at the final round of the season and aims to bag more podiums and points during what would be an exciting 2018 season.

In the second-tier GTC2 class it’s Volkswagen Motorsport’s Keagan Masters who leads the way after taking his inaugural title in the production class in 2017.

New additions to the class include Masters’ new Volkswagen teammate Adrian Wood, while at Signature Motorsport, Polo Cup champion Devin Robertson joins Mini racer Bradley Liebenberg after his former teammate Chris Shorter – who finished second in class last year – stepped down from racing for the current season.

Golf GTI privateers Charl Smalberger, Universal Healthcare duo Johan Pretorius and Trevor Bland, Honda Civic Type R duo Dayne Angel (Autohaus Angel) and Iain Stevenson (Comsol), and Reno van Heerden (Hotwheels Ford Focus ST) all bolster a strong GTC2 field in 2018.

“We are very proud to enter our third season as the headline sponsor of the Sasol GTC Championship,” said Christopher Kabosha, Sasol Energy Senior Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs. “I am happy to confirm that this sponsorship provides us with a fantastic experiential platform for our technology and products. I wish all the teams competing in the 2018 championship a safe and successful season of racing.”

Round 1 of the Sasol GTC Championship kicks off on Friday March 23 with practice, followed by qualifying and two races on Saturday March 24 including the popular Fan Grid Walk prior to race one.

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