Having arrived at Killarney International Raceway undefeated and with a significant lead in the GTC2 Championship, confidence was very high. Brad picked up where he left off after the last round by again topping every practice session on Friday in his VW Motorsport Golf GTi.
Saturday’s qualifying was no different, setting the fastest lap and claiming his third consecutive pole position. In what can only be described as a fairly uneventful opening race, Brad went on to take a comfortable victory, more than four seconds ahead of the second placed competitor. The reverse-grid second race saw Brad starting at the rear of the grid. The reverse-grid races are normally the most anticipated race of the day because the winners of the first race have to start at the back with the entire grid being inverted. This makes for exciting racing.
Brad made a very good start and was very quickly up to 3rd position. He closely followed the two cars in front of him down the main straight towards Turn 1, in turn closely followed by his team mate. As a result of multiple slipstream he pulled out to pass but so did the car in front and behind of him. This resulted in 4 cars approaching Turn 1 side by side and something had to give. Brad tried to back out but unfortunately the two cars in the middle of the 4 car dice got squeezed together. In the process his left front suspension got damaged and he left the track at high speed into Turn 1 not being able to turn or significantly slow the car down. Despite the race being red flagged, the damage to the car was irreparable before the restart. This brought Brad’s winning streak to an unfortunate end.
Brad commented “I arrived in Cape Town very confident of winning. The car has been truly amazing since the start of the season and the support of the team the best. We used the practice sessions on Friday to test a few set ups and we were very quick. Saturday went as planned and we qualified pole. I made a good start in Race 1 and was able to control the pace from the front to win the race. With the inverted grid I started Race 2 at the back. I made a good start and was quickly at the front end. Going down the main straight I tucked in behind the Mini and Ford. Approaching Turn 1, I pulled out of the slipstream but so did the Ford in second position. I slowed down slightly being forced towards to outside of the turn direction and my team mate also pulled out of my slipstream towards the outside. At the braking point we were 4 cars abreast and the Ford and I were the meat in a 4-car sandwich. We had nowhere to go and got squeezed together resulting in an accident and car damage that forced me to retire. I am personally disappointed because we undoubtedly had the pace to win the race and I also feel bad for the team because both team cars had to retire. On the positive side, my VW Motorsport Golf GTi remains the car the beat and we retain our early championship lead. The season is still long and this will make us come back stronger.”
The next round of the Global Touring Car Championship is scheduled for the weekend of 15-16 June at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante Race Track.
Story by Raymond Cornwell on behalf of Brad Liebenberg Racing