The Sasol GTC Africa Production title was claimed by Daniel Rowe and his Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI at a very unpredictable Zwartkops Raceway event on Saturday. Rowe, a dominant presence in the GTC Production category since round one continued with that form, winning both GTC Production races on the day to claim first place – and his first national motorsport title.
“I’m very happy right now,” says Daniel Rowe. “My first national motorsport title and really grateful I could win this for Volkswagen. I think we’ve done it in style this year, winning just about every race and claiming most of the pole positions as well.”
“I put in a lot of effort, a lot of training, both physical and mental and watched the race footage over and over to analyze every moment in the car,” says Daniel. “Preparation has been the key and I think I put in more effort than the other drivers to ensure better results.”
While Rowe has already won the championship, he will compete in the final round of the series at East London Raceway in one week. This will be his final run in the Volkswagen Motorsport Golf GTI before he hands the wheel to Keagan Masters who will take over from 2017 as third-place finisher in the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship this year.
“The Volkswagen Motorsport effort to encourage group and progression is already reaping rewards,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “We have one national title, a promising new driver taking over next year and an opportunity to encourage more competitors into the sport as they see a clear progression develop and a chance to build on their motorsport careers.”
“We are very pleased with the programme for this year and it shows promise going forward.”
While Rowe finished at the top of the podium in GTC Production this weekend, he was not alone in achieving. Mandla Mdakane started the weekend with the second-quickest time in qualifying, finished fourth in race one, second to his teammate in race two and took third place for the day overall.
Another good result for Mdakane at the final round in East London next week could result in a one-two championship season finish for Volkswagen Motorsport.
Mathew Hodges used the Zwartkops event to move up to third place overall with his Volkswagen Jetta GTC, getting Volkswagen Motorsport on the podium in the overall championship and in contention to finish the year on a strong footing in this new category.
“I started the weekend with a bad qualifying session,” says Hodges. “That put me on the back foot on probably the worst circuit in the country to qualify badly. I still managed to get through to fourth place in that first race, which was a really good outcome. Race two it looked very promising again, up to fourth in the opening laps and when the rain started it looked like it would be a potential second place, until I got taken out of the race.”
Hodges and his teammate Graeme Nathan are looking forward to the fast pace of the East London circuit, even though it can be very bumpy, which is a real challenge in the GTC cars which are very reactive on bumpier circuits.
The East London event will be the final round of the Sasol GTC Africa championship for 2016, rounding off the first season of one of the most-anticipated new national formulas in South Africa. Volkswagen Motorsport has been a dominant player in the series this year and also a strong supporter of the new national format.