SA Touring Cars

Liebenberg takes GTC SupaCup crown at Zwartkops, while GTC Championship remains undecided for now

Brad Liebenberg

Brad Liebenberg took his third Global Touring Cars (GTC) SupaCup title in as many attempts this past weekend (13-14 October) at Zwarkops Raceway, while the GTC Championship crown’s destination will only be determined at a later stage following a dramatic season finale.

While Liebenberg beat Mogotsi to the title with the Dunlop Pole Position and two race wins on the circuit, there are still outstanding appeals from previous rounds and the past weekend that will need to be concluded before a GTC Champion can be announced.

GTC Championship

GTC Championship

Two days before the event, Robert Wolk’s (Chemical Logistics BMW 128ti) lead increased to nine points over Saood Variawa (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) following a successful appeal against the Round 5 decision that stripped him of the Race 2 win.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session was an ultra-competitive affair with just under 0.9 of a second between the fastest and slowest drivers around the 2.4-kilometer circuit. Wolk secured the Dunlop Pole Position to lead the title challenge from the front. Variawa, who recorded the quickest time in Friday’s practice sessions, joined him on the front row. Julian van der Watt (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) headed up the third row with Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) for company. Andrew Rackstraw (RDSA / Sparco Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI) secured fifth place on the gird, ahead of Nathi Msimanga (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla). Josh le Roux (Vitro Frameless / Master Stairs Audi S3) completed the grid,

Variawa made a superb start off the line to move into the lead as the pack exited the Turn 2 hairpin ahead of Wolk. With the pack in close contention, contact ensued between Wolk, Variawa and Van Rooyen through Turns 3 and 4, resulting in all three taking a tour into the kitty litter outside of Turn 4. However, despite finding themselves at the back of the field, all three drivers could continue, with Wolk being the first to return to the circuit ahead of Variawa and Van Rooyen. Meanwhile, Le Roux retired due to mechanical issues.

This saw Msimanga lead the pack ahead of Van der Watt and Msimanga’s rival for third place in the championship, Rackstraw. Those involved in the opening lap incident worked their way through the GTC SupaCup field. In doing so, Wolk, with steering damage to his car, made contact with one of the class leaders.

The cat-and-mouse battle at the front delivered its own dramatic climax when contact between Van der Watt and Msimanga forced the latter to stop in a cloud of dust outside Turn 8 on the penultimate lap. Van der Watt crossed the line first with Rackstraw in tow. Further back, Wolk finished ahead of Variawa and Van Rooyen.

However, the results were far from finalised as a series of post-race enquiries followed in the Race Control office. Wolk received a three-place penalty for his part in contact with Van Rooyen in Turn 3, with a further five-place penalty added for the contact made with Variawa in Turn 4. Van der Watt also received a three-place penalty based on the original finishing order for his contact with Msimanga.

This saw Rackstraw taking his third win of the season, while the penalties for Wolk and Van der Watt promoted Variawa to second place. Wolk’s demotion saw Van der Watt complete the podium, with Van Rooyen fourth. At the time of publishing, the matter of fifth and sixth places between Msimanga and Wolk, remains unresolved and will be communicated at a later stage.

Race 2 saw the Toyota Gazoo Racing trio make a magnificent start. Mindful to ensure maximum points in their battles for the title and third place, it did not take long for Variawa to assume the lead with Msimanga in tow. Van Rooyen held Wolk off throughout to ensure a podium lock-out for the Toyota Gazoo Racing team. Behind them, Van der Watt passed Rackstraw on Lap 4 to move into fifth place.

GTC SupaCup

GTC SupaCup Brad Liebenberg (Hype Energy Drinks) took the Dunlop Pole Position ahead of Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport), who set Friday’s fastest practice time in the all-Volkswagen Polo SupaCup field. Arnold Neveling (GOSCOR Lift Truck Company) was just behind him, while Tate Bishop (ANGRi Racing Academy) completed a top-four covered by just over 0.31 of a second. Karah Hill (Kalex) recorded her best grid position in fifth, while David Franco (Graphix Supply World) did the same in his first event away from his home circuit, Killarney International Raceway.

Returning former GTC SupaCup Masters Champion Andre Bezuidenhout (Team Perfect Circle) headed up recently crowned GTC SupaCup Masters Champion Danie van Niekerk (Titan Stunts Van Niekerk Racing) on the fourth row. Debutant Nicholas Vostanis secured ninth place ahead of GTC SupaCup Master Roberto Franco (Graphix Supply World), who, like his son David, competed in his first event away from home.

Liebenberg kept a cool head while negotiating the GTC Championship carnage further up the road to retain the lead with Mogotsi in tow. The pair resumed a cat-and-mouse battle to the line, with Liebenberg taking a lights-to-flag win. Neveling held off Bishop for fourth place, while Van Niekerk led Bezuidenhout to the GTC SupaCup Masters win and fifth and sixth place in the combined GTC SupaCup field. David Franco crossed the line in seventh place, with Hill further back in eighth, but both competitors were excluded from the final results after the driver/car combinations were found to be underweight. This promoted Roberto Franco and Vostanis up the order after their entertaining tussle.

Race 2 saw Liebenberg cement his title with another lights-to-flag victory. Neveling led Mogotsi in the early stages, but the pair traded positions on Lap 2 for the latter to finish the race and season as runner-up. After an early tussle with Van Niekerk, Bishop slotted into fourth place before passing Neveling for the final podium position on the third-from-last lap. Neveling and Van Niekerk finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Karah Hill made her way up from the back of the grid to record her best finish, sixth place, at the circuit where she debuted earlier this year. Bezuidenhout, Vostanis, David Franco and Roberto Franco completed the field.

Final Championship Positions

Motorsport South Africa (MSA) will hear the aforementioned GTC Championship appeals before the final Drivers’ Points Table will be communicated. Toyota secured the Manufacturers’ title earlier in the season already.

Liebenberg took the GTC SupaCup title from Mogotsi and Campos. However, the rest of the positions will be communicated later, as an outstanding appeal will influence the places outside the top three. Van Niekerk took the GTC SupaCup Masters title, while Bishop won the Driver of the Year award.

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