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Sasol GTC titles on the line at Zwartkops finale

2018-10-15 14:45

Reynard Gelderblom

2018 Sasol GTC Championship

Image: Reynard Gelderblom

One round remains in the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship, with defending champion Michael Stephen from Engen Audi in the box seat for a potential third title outright, as well as Keagan Masters from Volkswagen Motorsport vying for GTC2 honours at the season’s grand finale to be held at Zwartkops Raceway from 19-20 October.

Throughout 2018, the current top three in GTC have dominated the championship battle, initially with Sasol BMW’s Gennaro Bonafede and Engen Audi’s Simon Moss trading the lead of the championship.

Tight at the summit

While defending champion and Moss’ team mate Michael Stephen consolidating results to eventually take the lead after Round 5; a position he has not relinquished since. Heading into the season finale, Stephen leads on 331 points, Moss on 300 and Bonafede on 295.

READ: Preview: Three-way title battle to continue at Zwartkops BMW races

Even though there are 50 points available, it will require quite a few scenarios to play out for Bonafede to take the title. Second place could well be on the cards with only five points between himself and Moss.

2018 Sasol GTC Championship

                                                                          Image: Reynard Gelderblom

Previous 2018 encounters at Zwartkops Raceway (in May and August) saw Bonafede boasting with a better scoring record than Moss, taking four podium finishes from four starts including a victory. Stephen, however, still looks set to take his third consecutive title in the category.

Not without setbacks

Further back, Johan Fourie in the EPS Racing BMW is guaranteed of finishing the season as the top privateer in the class. This comes after Michael van Rooyen’s announcement on Wednesday, 9 October that he will not be piloting his RSC Racing BMW in the finale due to an injury sustained during a cycling accident.

2018 Sasol GTC Championship red mini

                                                                    Image: Reynard Gelderblom

Following a slow start to the season – including being a passenger in one of the biggest crashes to date at the season-opener – Fourie has shown good form during the second half and aims to stay ahead VW Motorsport’s Daniel Rowe in the points.

During their last visit to the circuit, an incident between the two prevented Fourie from taking a lights-to-flag victory. With only 5 points between them, this will be a battle to watch.

2018 Sasol GTC Championship

                                                                       Image: Reynard Gelderblom

In GTC2, reigning class champion Keagan Masters has continued his dominant form throughout the season, taking 10 race victories from 16 starts, and three rounds including double victories.

Impressive performances

With 339 points to his name, he finds himself with a healthy 36-point lead over the only man who can still prevent him from taking his second title, Devin Robertson in the Champion South Africa Mini by Signature Motorsport.

2018 Sasol GTC Championship

                                                                       Image: Reynard Gelderblom

In his debut season, Robertson has delivered a host of impressive performances which also saw him taking two race victories during the middle part of the season. His best run of form with seven consecutive podiums came while recovering from injuries sustained during a Round 3 practice accident.

The latter part of the season saw Robertson losing ground with a host of technical difficulties resulting in four consecutive fourth-place finishes. It might look good for Masters to take the title, but Robertson will keep him honest right to the end.

Robertson’s team mate Brad Liebenberg in the Ferodo South Africa MINI finds himself heading up the rest of the field in third position. Despite an early championship lead and with four race victories, Liebenberg also faced a host of challenges during the latter part of the season.

2018 Sasol GTC Championship

                                                                       Image: Reynard Gelderblom

With 279 points to his name, the title may be out of his grasp but it will not deter him from aiming for an outright podium finish at season’s end. He will also be motivated by the fact that he is within catching distance of Universal Racing’s Trevor Bland and Masters’ team mate Adrian Wood.

The season finale of South Africa’s premier motorsport championship will form part of a full Extreme Festival programme at Zwartkops Raceway.

The first Sasol GTC race of the day is scheduled to start on Saturday, October 20 at 12:10 following a short grid walk which will be open to all fans. The second race is scheduled for 15:35. Tickets will be available at the gate at R120.00 per adult, R90.00 per student and with children under 12 entering for free.


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