SA Touring Cars

Wolk, Fourie take GTC titles at Zwartkops Raceway finale

Robert Wolk took his second-consecutive Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship title this past weekend (14-15 October) at Zwartkops Raceway, while Leyton Fourie finished his successful debut GTC SupaCup season as the new champion.

This was after Nick Davidson was declared the GTC SupaCup Masters Champion in the week leading into the event. Manufacturer Toyota already celebrated its second-consecutive title earlier in the season.

GTC Championship

The action started before any cars even rolled out of their transporters at Zwartkops Raceway on Thursday afternoon. A Motorsport South Africa Court of Appeal overturned the penalty imposed on Wolk in the season opener. Subsequently, a penalty imposed for a second offence in Round 2 was also changed.

That meant that Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) arrived at the Pretoria racetrack even closer to a back-to-back South African Global Touring Car championship title. He needed only finish the first race to clinch the title, no matter what else happened on Saturday. His only championship threat, teenage rookie sensation Saood Variawa (Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa (TGRSA) Corolla), would need to win both races and Wolk not finish.

Qualifying saw a bit of a turn-up for the books when Michael van Rooyen (TGRSA Corolla) claimed the Dunlop Pole Position from Julian van der Watt (Chemical Logistics Ford Focus RS). Van Rooyen only recorded a single flying lap before a hair-raising spin, but this was enough to see him head up the grid for the first time in 2022. Brad Liebenberg (Hype Energy Drinks / Sparco / Universal Motorsport Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI started third ahead of Variawa. Some way off his regular front-row performance, Wolk, who set the fastest time in Friday’s practice sessions, followed in fifth place.

Andrew Rackstraw’s Investchem / RDSA Audi S3 and GR Cup Champion, journalist and former PlayStation Academy GT3 driver Ashley Oldfield followed, the latter having taken over the TGRSA  Corolla that Mandla Mdakane had previously raced.

The opening race was dramatic. Van der Watt ended up off the track and buried in the Turn 2 kitty litter, which resulted in the safety car being deployed for a couple of laps. Wolk had to take evasive action to dodge being impaled by his teammate Van der Watt as he left the track. That left Van Rooyen leading Variawa, Liebenberg, Wolk, Rackstraw and Oldfield. Liebenberg appeared in trouble as the Golf slowed and then stopped.

That left Gazoo Corolla duo Van Rooyen and Variawa well ahead, but Wolk’s blue Corolla chased his rivals’ similar red-and-white cars down. Variawa had to defend as Van Rooyen escaped up front. Wolk could not find a way past as Van Rooyen took the win from Variawa and a delighted new double champion Wolk. Andrew Rackstraw ended up fourth from Ashley Oldfield, who impressed on his GTC debut.

Oldfield led Race 2 for several laps off his reverse grid pole position under increasing pressure from Brad Liebenberg and the rest. Oldfield impressively stayed there until he made a small mistake under braking to drop back to sixth.

With the 40th-anniversary celebrations for Volkswagen’s Golf GTI taking place on the inside of the final corner, Liebenberg took a very popular win for the manufacturer in the last race of the season ahead of Variawa and Van der Watt. Wolk, Rackstraw, Oldfield and Van Rooyen completed the order.

Behind champion Wolk, Variawa finished his debut season as runner-up ahead of Van Rooyen on the points table.

GTC SupaCup

Fourie (Express Hire / Universal Motorsport), the fastest driver on Friday, added his first point of the day when he took the Dunlop Pole Position in Saturday morning’s qualifying session. The only other driver still in with a chance to win the title, Jeffrey Kruger (Universal HealthCare Team RED Racing), qualified in fourth place. The pair were split by Keegan Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Brokers / Campos Transport) and Jonathan Mogotsi (Sonax / Motul).

Arnold Neveling (PAGID Racing) lined up fifth alongside Jason Campos’ second Turn 1 Insurance Brokers / Campos Transport Polo SupaCup. Daniel Rowe (Team Perfect Circle), debutant Dominic Dias (Chemi / Dias Group), Tato Carello (Carello Auto) and Jean Pierre van der Walt (Platinum Wheels) completed the top 10 ahead of Trinity Protection Services’ Nathan Hammond. Calvin Dias (Chemi / Dias Group) and GTC SupaCup Masters’ pole man Stefan Snyders (Telerex) line up on Row 6 ahead of Rui Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Brokers / Campos Transport). Danie van Niekerk (Titan Stunts / Van Niekerk Racing) was next up from Masters’ duo Sam Hammond (Trinity Protection Services) and Nick Davidson (Stu Davidson & Sons). Sam Hammond was a late addition to the entry list, replacing his son Damian and making his first appearance in the series since Round 2. Davidson also wrapped up his GTC SupaCup Masters title before the event because Paul Luti opted not to make the trip to South Africa for the season finale; the latter redirecting his remaining 2022 budget into a full season campaign for 2023.

Fourie made no mistake to lead Keegan Campos away in Race 1, as the field reshuffled behind him through the first lap. That saw Arnold Neveling up to second ahead of Mogotsi, Kruger, Jason Campos and Rowe. A keen tussle had developed behind when the safety car was deployed to extract Van der Watt’s stricken car. The top six remained in that order for a few laps after the safety car returned to the pits.

There was a considerable amount of action behind them, that saw Van der Walt emerge eighth from Carello, Dominic and Calvin Dias. Nathan Hammond followed from Van Niekerk, while Rui Campos led the Masters’ charge from Sam Hammond, Snyders and Davidson. The race settled down at mid-distance, only for Keegan Campos to spin out of second and drop back to seventh behind Neveling, Mogotsi, Kruger, brother Jason and Rowe as Fourie took the title with a formidable 24-second race win.

This was Fourie’s third main circuit title in two seasons, with both his previous championship victories having come within the last 365 days.

Reverse grid Race 2 provided entertainment as always. Jason Campos quickly overcame Daniel Rowe to take a compelling lights-to-flag win. Mogotsi was soon up to second from Kruger, Rowe and Neveling. Keegan Campos meanwhile deposed new champion Fourie for sixth.

It was equally exciting behind them as Nathan Hammond emerged eighth from Masters’ winner Rui Campos, Carello and Van Niekerk. That after Calvin Dias, Sam Hammond and Snyders dropped down the order late in the race to allow van Niekerk up to 11th from Calvin, Van der Walt, Sam Hammond, Davidson, Snyders and Dominic Dias.

Behind Fourie on the points table, Kruger equalled his best end-of-season result of second place, while Keegan Campos took his best championship finish in third place.

GTC Championship
GTC SupaCup

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