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2018 Sasol GTC Championship ready to thrill and delight

2018-03-20 12:14

Image: Supplied

Sandton – The 2018 Sasol GTC Championship is set to come of age this year featuring cars that pump out 336kW (450bhp) with a push-to-pass function that hikes power to 373kW (500bhp) which places GTC cars as some of the fastest in the country. 

The previous power cap was around 315kW and the cars are expected to be two seconds per lap faster on long circuits like Kyalami and East London and around a second a lap quicker at shorter tracks like Zwartkops and Killarney.  

The Sasol GTC Championship features nine rounds and 18 races starting at the legendary Kyalami International Grand Prix Circuit on 24th March.

Motorsport fans will be wondering if the double Sasol GTC Champion, Michael Stephen (Engen Audi GTC) can make it a hat-trick of titles or if someone else will rise to the top and mount a sustainable challenge. All questions will only be answered after the first round, as the new engine rules make predictions virtually impossible.

Michael Stephen. Image: David Ledbitter

Stephen’s team mate, Simon Moss ended the previous season with a double victory and third in the championship which will boost the youngster’s confidence going into the new season.

Sandwiched between the two black Audis, Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC) led last year’s series standings from the first race until the sixth round, ending the season in second place for the second year in a row.  Bonafede, an accomplished racer has his eyes set on championship honours, believing that his team has all the ingredients to field a competitive racing car.

Robert Wolk, behind the wheel of the second Sasol BMW GTC, claimed his maiden victory at round five and intends to fully exploit the lessons learned in his first Sasol GTC Championship season last year and translate them into results. 

Johan Fourie. Image: David Ledbitter

The Volkswagen camp is bullish ahead of the new season after Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe powered their Jetta GTCs to the front of the field towards the end of the 2017 season. Off season development should see the Jettas provide top drawer motortainment for South African racing fans.

Mathew Hodges. Image: David Leditter

Johan Fourie became the first privateer to win a GTC race when he raced his EPS Couriers sponsored BMW GTC to the chequered flag at Kyalami in November last year. Consistent scoring and podiums last year saw Fourie end fourth in the final standings and marks him out as a real championship contender in the coming year.

Micheal van Rooyen. Image: David Ledbitter

Michael van Rooyen, affectionately called the Rustenburg Rocket claimed his maiden podium at the final round of the series and is looking forward to bag more podiums and points during what would be an exciting 2018 season. 

The GTC2 class for two litre engine, front-wheel drive cars provided some entertaining racing last year, developing into a season-long Volkswagen Golf vs MINI JCW battle for honours and should continue. The cars will run on full slick tyres this year which offers more grip and has improved lap times by around a second during pre-season testing.

Brad Liebenberg. Image: David Ledbitter

GTC2 class champion Keagan Masters dominated the 2017 season and will return to defend his title, joined in the factory VW Golf team by Adrian Wood who migrates from the Polo Cup series with backing from Kyocera. 

Brad Liebenberg will continue in the Ferodo MINI JCW with Devin Robertson stepping into the Champion MINI JCW after Chris Shorter stepped down from the team for personal reasons.  Shorter ended the previous season as champion runner-up, leaving big shoes to fill for the newcomer. Robertson dominated the Polo Cup last year and is well up to the task of taking the fight to the fast VWs.

Keagan Masters. Image: David Ledbitter

Privateer Golf GTi drivers Trevor Bland and Charl Smalberger provided a number of upset results and were fighting for championship podium results all year.  Bland had a heavy accident during testing last week and is a doubtful starter at Kyalami as his Golf GTi was destroyed beyond repair.  A pair of Honda Civic Type-Rs should make an appearance in the hands of Iain Stevenson (Comsol Honda) and Dayne Angel (Angel Autohaus Honda).

Christopher Kabosha, Sasol Energy Senior Manger, Marketing and Corporate Affairs said: “We are very proud to enter our third season as the headline sponsor of the Sasol GTC Championship. This sponsorship provides us with a fantastic experiential platform for our technology capabilities and product demonstration. I wish all the teams competing in the 2018 championship a safe and successful season of racing”.


Join the conversation on social media using #SasolGTC and visit www.sasolmotorsport.co.za for the latest #Sasol GTC Championship news, broadcast schedules and so much more. 

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