Michael Stephen cements his Sasol GTC Championship lead after Killarney races

Cape Town, South Africa – Michael Stephen put himself in pole position to win his third consecutive Sasol GTC Championship after taking victory in both races at round eight of the touring car championship held at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town.

The Engen Audi GTC team dominated proceedings at the Cape circuit, setting the fastest time in all three free practice sessions, qualifying first and second on the grid and taking a one-two result in both races thanks to Simon Moss taking the runner-up position in both races.

Stephen now needs just four points from the final race to clinch his third consecutive Sasol GTC Championship, while Moss has moved into second place at the expense of Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW GTC).

The first race provided scintillating racing behind Stephen, with a five-way fight for second place raging throughout the 12-lap race. Moss, Michael van Rooyen (RCS BMW GTC), Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Jetta GTC), Bonafede and Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW GTC) traded places several times a lap. Fourie was in second place initially, and then tangled inadvertently with Bonafede three laps from home, causing the Sasol BMW to spin out on lap nine. With two laps, left, van Rooyen was mired in sixth spot, but by the time he crossed the finishing line, he was in third place.

Rowe shuffled his way through the pack to end fourth, followed by Fourie, Mathew Hodges (VW Jetta GTC) and a disappointed Bonafede. Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW GTC) circulated at the rear of the field after a boost pipe came loose.

The GTC2 race was equally intense; Charl Smalberger (Q20 Volkswagen Golf GTi) led from pole position and crossed the line for his first win of the season after fending off race-long pressure from championship leader Keagan Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTi). A post-race check saw Smalberger penalised for a technical infringement, handing victory to Masters, ahead of a resurgent Trevor Bland (Universal Healthcare VW Golf GTi) and Adrian Wood (Kyocera VW Golf GTi).

The Signature Motorsport MINI John Cooper Works pair of Devin Robertson (Ferodo) and Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo) ended fourth and fifth, ahead of Bob Neill (Delmon Mining Ford Fiesta ST).

The second race, from an inverted grid, saw Bonafede lead the opening three laps before succumbing to Moss, who scythed his way from the back of the grid. Fourie pushed his way past Bonafede while Wolk, who had started from pole position, retired with terminal engine damage. Looming large in Moss’ rear view mirror was Stephen, who took second place from Fourie, and then snatched first from Moss. Hodges retired from the race when a tyre came off the rim after a bump with Wolk on the first lap. Bonafede passed Fourie for third, followed by van Rooyen and Rowe.

The GTC2 race was a repeat of the first race; Smalberger made a demon start from the rear of the grid to emerge in first place by the end of the opening lap. Masters picked off his rivals one-by-won,

until he was once more right behind Smalberger. Trying different lines into Turn Eight, Masters eventually made his move for the lead stick, and opened a small gap which he held to the finish.

Wood and Bland followed the leading pair across the line, followed by Robertson. Smalberger was penalised for a jump start which dropped him to the back of the class results while Liebenberg was forced to retire after a clash with Smalberger, which damaged the MINI’s radiator.

The final round of the Sasol GTC Championship takes place at Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on 20th October.

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Championship Positions:

GTC:

Stephen – 331, Moss – 300, Bonafede – 295, Fourie – 242, Rowe – 237, van Rooyen – 234, Wolk – 191, Hodges – 172

GTC2:

Masters – 339, Robertson – 305, Liebenberg – 289, Bland – 269, Wood – 256, Smalberger – 208, Angel – 137, Neill – 108, Hill - 84