A podium finish apiece for Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe as well as a dominant display of driving skills by Keagan Masters characterised Round 6 of the Sasol GTC Series for the Volkswagen Motorsport Squad. Mathew Hodges steered his Volkswagen Jetta to a third place finish after the 17 laps that made up race one at the Pretoria-West circuit, while teammate Daniel Rowe emulated the performance by crossing the line third in the second race.
“The Sasol GTC Series is billed as the premiere circuit racing formula in Africa,” commented Mr. Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “As such, racing can be very close and podium positions are hard to come by. So as a team we’ll always be happy when we earn the opportunity to spray champagne from the winner’s podium.” GTC qualifying proved once again how close it can be, with just a half a second separating the top 7 drivers. “When it’s this close, anything can happen,” said Mathew Hodges who qualified his Jetta just 0.3 seconds slower than pole position. “And that’s exactly what happened when the lights turned green.” Hodges steered his way clear of danger to cross the finish line in a fine third position overall, but teammate Daniel Rowe was not so lucky. The youngster from the Eastern Cape set the fastest lap of the race before making contact with a fellow competitor while aiming for the same piece of Zwartkops tarmac that makes up turn 7, an incident that dropped him down the order.
Sasol GTC rules state that the finishing order of Race 1 is reversed to determine the starting order for Race 2, which meant that Daniel Rowe would start the race from second on the grid while Hodges had it all to do from further down the field. This time it was Hodges who had the misfortune of a coming-together with a rival in turn 4 while trying to fight his way through the field, bringing a premature end to his race on the second lap. With all eyes now focused on the remaining Jetta, Daniel Rowe did not disappoint and brought his car safely home in third place. “It was a tough day’s racing, so it’s always satisfying to be able to spray champagne from the winner’s podium,” said Daniel Rowe after the race. “We have three more rounds to go and our team will be hoping to have more good results in Cape Town next month.”
Just behind the two GTC Jettas of Hodges and Rowe, Keagan Masters was having another brilliant outing in his Volkswagen Golf GTi. The youngster from Hartebeespoort was already leading the GTC2 championship coming into Round 6 at Zwartkops, but knew that another good performance at his home track could go a long way. “I really wanted to make this event count,” said Masters. And he did. He qualified his Volkswagen Golf GTi in pole position with Mandla Mdakane just a few tenths of a second back in third place. Masters then went on to fend off a fierce challenge from his rivals to cross the line first in race one, extending his championship points lead in the process. Mdakane on the other hand had a less successful first race, but with the order reversed to determine the grid for race two, the young man from Johannesburg was thrown back into the mix. In fact, Mdakane led the race for most of the first half until an incident involving a GTC car up at turn 5 left him with nowhere to go and cost him the lead. Fortunately for Volkswagen, teammate Masters was at hand to take over the reins and claim his second victory of the day, a result that did his championship aspirations no harm at all.
“Two GTC podiums and consecutive GTC2 victories on the day was a good result for the Volkswagen Motorsport team,” said Mike Rowe. “It’s always good to spray champagne and even better to know that we are now favourites to win one of the GTC titles. So we are looking forward to the last few rounds to see what it will bring.”
The next round of the Sasol GTC championship will take place at Cape Town’s Killarney circuit on 8 and 9 September.