SA Touring Cars

Global Touring Cars heading to Gqeberha for mid-season action

  • Saood Variawa holds a nine-point lead over Robert Wolk in the GTC Championship.
  • BMW returns to the GTC grid.
  • Keegan Campos leads Brad Liebenberg by six points in the GTC SupaCup.
  • GTC SupaCup competitors to debut Dunlop semi-slick tyres.

The Global Touring Cars (GTC) Championship and SupaCup will cross the 2023 mid-season mark at Aldo Scribante Racetrack this coming weekend (16-17 June).

Saood Variawa and Keegan Campos lead the respective points tables heading into Round 4, but both will face fierce competition. The weekend will also see the return of the BMW marque to the GTC Championship, while the GTC SupaCup will switch from Dunlop slick tyres to semi-slicks.

GTC Championship

It is perhaps poignant that this race weekend is on the anniversary of the tragic events that dealt the series a body blow on the road home, as much as the man driving the new car makes his return following a frightening accident at the opening round at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit. Julian van der Watt is training hard in his recovery and is expected to take the wheel of the first of two long-awaited Chemical Logistics BMW 128ti models for his Aldo Scribante comeback.

Van der Watt’s BMW replaces his destroyed Ford Focus, while a second 128ti is among several other cars still in build as Global Touring Cars fight back from its difficult times. They will soon join the rest of the grid, which will continue its fight at Aldo Scribante this weekend. The world is also waiting to see how points leader Saood Variawa (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) squares up to double reigning GTC Champion Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) following the shenanigans of Zwartkops.

Variawa will be backed by his Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla teammates, impressive rookie Nathi Msimanga and veteran Michael van Rooyen. Wolk has three fellow Investchem Formula 1600 champions as his henchmen. Andrew Rackstraw will be back after his disastrous Zwartkops outing when his Sparco / RDSA Volkswagen Golf 8 GTi suffered a qualifying engine failure that sidelined him for the day. Josh Le Roux races his Master Stairs / Investchem Audi S3, and Van der Watt is scheduled to debut his BMW 128ti.

Variawa, with 80 points, leads Wolk by nine points, with recently awarded maiden race winner Msimanga just six points adrift. Van Rooyen heads up the second group with 48 points, with Rackstraw seven adrift and Le Roux a further four behind. With Van der Watt’s Round 1 incident in the second practice session, he has yet to open his 2023 account.

GTC SupaCup

The weekend promises to be a championship shake-up, as much as it is a trip into the unknown for every competitor, as a new Dunlop semi-slick tyre comes into play while points leader Keegan Campos (Veloce Automobili) bears up to the rapidly closing Bradley Liebenberg (Hype Energy Drinks) on track.

Liebenberg suffered a weekend to forget at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit season opener but bounced back to dominate at Killarney International Raceway and Zwartkops Raceway with four race wins. Campos won both Kyalami races, but his consistent run of points-scoring finishes still sees him leading the way heading to Gqeberha.

Campos and Liebenberg will have plenty to keep them busy on the all-Volkswagen Polo SupaCup grid. Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa) took his maiden Polo Cup and GTC SupaCup at the circuit and is eager to challenge the pair. Arnold Neveling (GOSCOR Lift Truck Company) was made a late GTC SupaCup start this season and is chasing his maiden victory.

Rookie Tate Bishop (ANGRi Racing Academy) and Jean-Pierre van der Walt (Platinum Wheels) have points to prove for various reasons after having a tough Zwartkops story to tell. Danie van Niekerk will look for another good points haul in his Titan Stunts Van Niekerk Racing entry. Teammate Paul Luti, in his Finishline UK liveried car, missed the 2022 visit to the circuit and is relishing his first visit to Aldo Scribante Racetrack. Karah Hill (Kalex) made a level-headed debut at Zwartkops Raceway and is keen to impress at Aldo Scribante Racetrack, where she tasted success in other categories.

However, that GTC SupaCup form book could mean very little at Aldo Scribante. The series switches to a new Dunlop Direzza semi-slick tyre for the first time after several seasons of racing on full-slick Dunlops. Not only will this bring a subtle change of pace, but teams will also need to find a new set-up that best suits their cars, tyres and driving styles. And that means that the quickest to adapt may very well find an advantage.

Campos has 101 points to his name, with Liebenberg and Mogotsi six and nine adrift, respectively. Neveling leads the midpack with 57 points. Tato Carello, who will not make the Gqeberha trip, is tied on 48 points with Bishop. Dominic and Calvin Dias, with 42 ad 20 points, respectively, will also not compete this weekend. Van der Walt has 13 points, one more than Van Niekerk. Luti has six points, while Hill scored two.

Weekend programme and information

Saturday’s Extreme Festival, hosted in partnership with Volkswagen South Africa, will see two GTC Championship & SupaCup races, scheduled for 13:10 and 16:40. The respective lap counts will be 12 and 15. Prior to Race 1, There will also be a GTC Championship and SupaCup grid walk on the main straight.

Spectator tickets can be purchased directly at the Aldo Scribante Racetrack entrance gate. The full race day programme will be broadcasted live on the Global Touring Cars Facebook page and 2WheelsTV YouTube channel.

GTC Championship
GTC SupaCup

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