SA Touring Cars

Wolk, Liebenberg close in on titles at Zwartkops penultimate GTC round

Robert Wolk’s quest for a maiden GTC Championship title as well Brad Liebenberg’s defence of the GTC SupaCup title received a positive boost at Zwartkops Raceway this past weekend (October 22-23) while a host of different drivers celebrated the race victories in the penultimate round of 2021.

Round 6, which formed part of the Extreme Festival, also saw spectators returning to the circuit for the first time in just over 19 months.

GTC Championship

Lee Thompson (Universal Motorsport BMW 2 GTC) is one of the most experienced competitors around the Pretoria West circuit and made this count throughout Friday’s practice session; setting the fastest time in two of them. He followed this up with his first Dunlop Pole Position on Saturday morning while Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) set the second-fastest time. Scott Temple (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) lined up in third place on the grid with Wolk’s main rival Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla) in fourth place. The field was completed by Julian van der Watt (Autozone Ford Focus) and Mandla Mdakane (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Corolla)

Wolk, who had the inside line heading into Turn 1, quickly moved to the front at the start of Race 1 and retained the position to take his third victory for the season. He was closely pursued by Thompson throughout the race with the latter finishing as runner-up while setting the fastest lap. Just behind them, Temple retained his third place to complete the podium. A good tussle between Van Rooyen and Van der Watt lasted for the entire 12 lap duration. Van Rooyen kept Van der Watt at bay for almost half the race, but on Lap 6, Van der Watt made the pass that resulted in him finishing in fourth place. Mdakane completed the field.

This saw the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa pair head up the field in the reverse-grid second race. Van Rooyen quickly moved to the front and with his teammate riding shotgun, was able to build an early advantage over the rest of the field. He went on to take his sixth victory of the season, keeping his record of being the only driver to have taken a victory in each round intact. Wolk moved into second place on Lap 2 and finished the race as runner-up, a position that saw him extend his lead over Van Rooyen following both races. Temple, the reverse-grid race winner from Round 2, again completed the podium while also setting the fastest lap. Thompson had a good tussle with Van der Watt throughout the race. Van der Watt headed up the battle in the early stages but two-thirds of the way through the race Thompson passed the Autozone Ford Focus driver. After moving into fourth place, Thompson set off after Temple but was not able to pass him for the final podium position. Meanwhile, Van der Watt soon found himself having to defend his fifth place from Mdakane with the pair completing the results.

GTC SupaCup

Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa) also took a maiden Dunlop Pole Position on Saturday morning, clipping the points leader and his main rival Brad Liebenberg 0.008 of a second. Keegan Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Brokers Campos Racing) showed strong pace throughout Friday’s latter sessions and lined up in third place on the grid, while fellow 2021 debutant Saood Variawa (SV / Varia / Mariner) joined him on the second row. Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Motorsport), who set the pace on Friday, qualified in fifth place ahead of Jason Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Brokers Campos Racing). Danie van Niekerk (Wingfield Motors Van Niekerk Racing) made his debut in this round and impressed with seventh place on the gird in his first outing at Zwartkops Raceway in more than a decade. Nick Davidson (Stu Davidson & Sons) qualified in eighth place, ahead of Johan de Bruyn (OdorCure). Andre Bezuidenhout (Motul Team Perfect Circle) completed the top ten. Dawie Joubert (Wild Rose Gin Rembrandt Racing) headed up the sixth row and was joined by Stefan Snyders (Telerex), who had to repair damage overnight following an incident on Friday. Nicky Dicks (Curvent International and Sam Hammond (Trinity Protection Services) completed the grid.

Mogotsi held the early lead in a closely-contested threeway battle in the opening laps of Race 1 while beating Liebenberg to the fastest lap by one-thousandth of a second. Liebenberg took the lead just after the halfway mark and went on to build a comfortable margin on his way to his 10th GTC SupaCup victory. Mogotsi just beat Keegan Campos to second place in their close battle, but a post-race penalty saw the pair changing positions. Kruger held off Jason Campos for fourth place while De Bruyn completed the top-six ahead of Davidson. Variawa lost ground on the opening lap and fought his way through to eighth place again. Bezuidenhout and Joubert took the final two points-paying positions after their battle. Van Niekerk also lost ground on Lap 1 but climbed three positions to beat Hammond, Dicks and Snyders.

Race 2 saw Jason Campos wasting no time in moving to the front and building a gap between himself and the rest of the battles. He took his third career win at the same circuit where he took his maiden victory earlier in the season and also set the fastest lap. Kruger and Keegan Campos had a good tussle for the runner-up podium positions. Variawa delivered a good performance to finish in fourth place behind the podium battle. For Liebenberg, Race 2 marked the first occasion of him completing the full race distance and not finishing on the podium. In the early stages, De Bruyn headed up a battle with the two title contenders. After getting past De Bruyn, they continued their battle with Liebenberg beating Mogotsi to fifth place. Van Niekerk scored his first points in seventh place while De Bruyn held off Joubert for eighth place. Davidson completed the points-paying results. Hammond beat Snyders to 11th place in a battle that also included Bezuidenhout, but the latter spun onto the inside of the circuit on Lap 12, losing ground but making it back onto the circuit. Dicks retired after 12 laps but completed the required race distance to be classified as a finisher.

Next Event

The Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit will make its appearance on the GTC Championship and GTC SupaCup calendar for the first time since 2018. The circuit will host the seventh and final round of the 2021 season as part of the Kyalami 9 Hour event on December 2-4.

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