GTC title fight wide open after action-packed Port Elizabeth races

The 2019 GTC Championship has crossed the mid-season mark with four drivers taking wins and making their championship contentions known as Round 4 was held at Aldo Scribante Racetrack in Port Elizabeth.

Johan Fourie. Picture: Reynard Gelderblom

The June 14-15 weekend saw Johan Fourie and Simon Moss sharing the spoils in GTC while Volkswagen Motorsport duo of Brad Liebenberg and Adrian Wood took a win each at the manufacturer’s home city.

Twenty seven-year-old Moss (Allpower | Moss Racing | Audi) dominated throughout Friday’s practice sessions, followed by pole position at his home circuit on Saturday morning. Johan Fourie and Robert Wolk qualified second and third in their respective EPS Courier Services and Investchem BMWs. Keagan Masters headed up the Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta attack by taking fourth place on the grid ahead of the GA300 Racing South Africa Toyota of Michael van Rooyen. Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) and Tscops Sipuka (Allpower | Moss Racing | Audi) were the next to line-up.

Brad Liebenberg. Picture: Reynard Gelderblom

Race 1’s warm-up lap produced drama, with Moss’ Audi developing a misfire which forced him into pit lane prior to the start. This left Fourie with clean air in front of him off the line which ultimately produced his second win for the season. Wolk kept him in check through the first half of the race, but after developing power issues he slipped down the field and retired to pit lane after 10 laps. Masters and Van Rooyen had a good tussle for position throughout the 12-lap duration with the pair completing the podium. The pair closed up to Fourie in the closing stages with less than 1.5 seconds covering them as they crossed the finish line. A little further back, Rowe finished in fourth place ahead of Sipuka and Wolk was classified as the sixth-place finisher Moss made it back onto the circuit, albeit three laps down, but still managed to finish in seventh place and take home points from the race; importantly this saw him heading up the reverse-grid for the afternoon’s second race.

In Race 2, Moss was unchallenged to take his fifth win of the season. Again Wolk delivered a good show of pace and without any mechanical issues brought his car home in second place. Fourie made it two visits to the podium for the day with his third place finish. Sipuka made a solid start and kept the rest of the field at bay, but a Lap 2 incident saw him retiring from the race. This left Masters and Van Rooyen to continue their battle with the pair finishing in fourth and fifth positions. Rowe completed the top-six.

Simon Moss. Picture: Reynard Gelderblom

In GTC2, Brad Liebenberg was aiming to consolidate his position at the top of the points table. Friday afternoon saw him setting the pace in the class and it did not surprise many when he followed this up with pole position on Saturday morning. Charl Smalberger also showed good speed throughout the weekend in his Universal Racing Volkswagen Golf and lined up next to Liebenberg. Wood overcame Friday’s mechanical difficulties to start in third ahead of Mandla Mdakane in the Traction Off MINI John Cooper Works. Paul Hill qualified his Kalex Racing Volkswagen Golf in fifth place.

Liebenberg took the win in Race 1, and despite Wood making it into second place on the opening lap, on Lap 4 Smalberger reclaimed the position with the pair finishing as runner-up. Mdakane held off Hill to finish in fourth place.

Adrian Wood. Picture: Reynard Gelderblom

Race 2 saw a fierce contest between the Volkswagen Golf duo at the front. This time round it was Wood in the Kyocera-liveried car who held off the championship leader to take his first win of the 2019 season. Mdakane took his second podium of the season with his third place finish after making his way past Hill on Lap 5. Smalberger noticed a vibration developing on his car early during the race and despite his efforts too continue suffered a broken wheel stud which forced him into retirement on Lap 5.

Round 5 of the 2019 GTC Championship will see the field making their second visit for the year at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria from July 26-27.

Story by Reynard Gelderblom on behalf of Global Touring Cars

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