Port Elizabeth – Aldo Scribante Race Track. In the few races since its debut, the locally designed and built Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI has proved itself as the car to beat in South Africa’s premier circuit racing formula, the Global Touring Cars (GTC). The car won during its first ever outing at the Red Star Raceway in September and followed it up with two more race wins at the home of Volkswagen in the Eastern Cape.
“We are very happy with the performance of our new car and we are very proud of what the team achieved in a short space of time,” commented Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport shortly after another successful race weekend. “Thanks to the efforts of everyone involved, from the technicians to our team drivers, the new Golf 8 GTI has now won four of the six races that it started.”
It was clear from Friday’s practice sessions that the Volkswagen was going to be competitive on the tarmac of Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit and when Saturday’s qualifying session arrived, the team was determined to convert the pace into good results. That’s exactly what they did when Daniel Rowe recorded a fastest time of 1:01.450 seconds. Teammate Keagan Masters set a time just 0.003 slower than Rowe, ensuring an all-blue front row for the first race. Rowe then went on to convert his pole position into a flag to flag victory after controlling the race from the front while Masters was forced to relinquish his second position late in the race.
Race 2 saw a very similar result, but this time it was Masters who controlled it to claim his second victory of the season while Rowe ended up on the final step of the podium in third. The two Golfs started the final race of the day from second and fourth on the grid respectively. Masters and Rowe were quick off the line but on the outside line for turn one where contact between Masters and another competitor sent the Golf onto the grass and seemingly out of the race. Two turns further and more contact ensued. This time between Rowe and one of the rival competitors. The organisers had no choice but to stop the race to allow the marshals to retrieve the stricken cars. The race resumed a few minutes later with both Golfs forced to start from the pitlane. Both Masters and Rowe were soon near the front of the field before smoke inside the cockpit of the Masters car forced the young driver to return to the pits in order for the team to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, Rowe maintained his pace to record a second place finish to complete a successful day for the team.
“We have definitely established ourselves as the team to beat,” said Daniel Rowe shortly after the last race. “The team did a great job with the car and it is a privilege to be a part of the entire team effort.”
Behind the leading GTC cars, the new SupaCup category is also proving extremely competitive. The series has turned into a tough battle between 2019 Polo Cup champion Bradley Liebenberg, 2018 Polo Cup champion Jeffrey Kruger and 2016 Volkswagen Driver Search winner Jonathan Mogotsi. Here in Port Elizabeth, it was Liebenberg who stamped his authority on the series by claiming three consecutive victories. Kruger finished right on his rear bumper on each occasion with Mogotsi in hot pursuit.
The SupaCup category of the GTC series will now head for Gauteng where they will do one more battle at the Zwartkops Raceway to the west of Pretoria. All eyes will be on Kruger and Liebenberg. Since the SupaCup competitors will complete four rounds of racing in 2020. Motorsport South Africa’s regulations will allow for a champion to be declared and both Kruger and Liebenberg will want to add another title to their already long list of motorsport achievements. The race is scheduled for 6 and 7 November 2020.