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Michael Stephen and Keagan Masters retain titles at Sasol GTC finale

2018-10-29 11:40

Reynard Gelderblom

Sasol GTC

Sasol GTC

The Sasol GTC season finale at Zwartkops Raceway treated crowds to a host of close battles as both the 2018 category championships were decided at the last round of the season, with Engen Audi’s Michael Stephen taking his third consecutive Sasol GTC title, while Volkswagen’s Keagan Masters successfully defended his GTC2 crown.

The weekend started well for the Terry Moss Racing team with another front-row lockout during qualifying; Stephen taking pole position ahead of Simon Moss. Row 2 was an all-Sasol BMW affair with Gennaro Bonafede ahead of Robert Wolk.

Action aplenty

Matthew Hodges lined up in fifth position in the first of the Volkswagen Motorsport Jettas. Following a host of mechanical issues which saw him only completing three laps during Friday’s practice sessions; Johan Fourie in the EPS Racing BMW qualified in sixth position.

READ: Sasol GTC titles on the line at Zwartkops finale

In GTC2, Masters took pole position in his Volkswagen Motorsport Golf ahead of the only driver that could still beat him to the title, Devin Robertson in the Champion Mini.

Charl Smalberger was aiming for a good result in his Q20 Racing Volkswagen Golf from third ahead of Brad Liebenberg in the Ferodo Mini. Trevor Bland qualified in fifth position in his Universal Healthcare Volkswagen Golf; eager to chase down third position outright in the class championship.

Rounding out the top six was Adrian Wood in the Kyocera Volkswagen Golf. Like Fourie, Wood also missed the bulk of Friday with a new engine being fitted to his car.

Michael Stephen

                                                                        Image: Racepics

Saturday’s first race saw the field holding position around the narrow 2.4km circuit, with Stephen taking the title as he greeted the chequered flag first at race’s end, closely followed by Moss in second.

Hotly contested

Bonafede finished third ahead of Wolk, while Fourie – who had made his way past Hodges during the early stages – suffered a sudden loss of power which forced him to the back of the class.

Keagan Masters

                                                                         Image: Racepics

Hodges reclaimed fifth place in the process with the team opting not to execute team orders to let Daniel Rowe through to aid his bid for fourth position in the championship.

In GTC2, Masters held off Robertson to secure his title, with Fourie splitting the pair on track as they crossed the line. Smalberger, Liebenberg, Bland and Wood rounded out the top-six.

Adrian Wood

                                                                    Image: Racepics

With the champions decided, the battle was still on for the runner-up championship positions in the afternoon’s second reverse-grid race. Race 2 was initially aborted on the opening lap following an incident that eliminated Bonafede; effectively securing Moss as the Sasol GTC championship runner-up to make it an Audi one-two for 2018. 

At the full restart, it was Fourie who held the initial lead but Stephen gradually made his way through the field to take the lead on lap seven. Despite best efforts, Fourie had no answer to the power of the Audi, allowing Stephen to add another double victory to his list of impressive 2018 statistics.

Sasol GTC

                                                                          Image: Racepics

Fourie’s second place was, however, enough for him to secure fourth position in the championship. Further back Wolk did his utmost to hold back Rowe but contact between the two on the final lap saw Wolk relegated to the kitty litter at Turn 6 while Rowe rounded out the podium. Moss and Hodges finished in fourth and fifth places respectively. 

In GTC2 it was Wood who made his way to the front to take his maiden victory in the category. Bland finished second on-track, but a post-race time penalty saw him classified in seventh place.

Masters took second place ahead of Liebenberg; the latter thereby securing his third position in the championship. Smalberger took fourth place ahead of championship runner-up Robertson. Paul Hill in the Kalex Volkswagen Golf completed the top-six.

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