ICYMI: Keagan Masters crowned 2019 GTC champ

<i>Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics</i>
<i>Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics</i>
Reynard Gelderblom

Volkswagen Motorsport’s Keagan Masters has been crowned the 2019 GTC Champion as the team added two driver titles to their manufacturer titles to conclude a dominant season at Red Star Raceway (October 25-26).

Masters added the Drivers Championship to his back-to-back GTC2 titles, while teammate Brad Liebenberg took over the reigns as GTC2 Champion in the production class.

Hunting pack

Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Michael van Rooyen also took a long-awaited maiden GTC race win to conclude the season. Changeable weather conditions arrived for Saturday morning’s qualifying session, but it was Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics BMW) who’s gamble on slick tyres paid off to see him grab pole position.

READ | Closest GTC title battle to date to conclude at Red Star Raceway

Behind him was the pack of five title contenders headed up by Masters (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) who bounced back after fuel pressure issues during Friday’s practice sessions.

Row 2 saw Simon Moss (Moss Racing / Audi / All Power) heading up Johan Fourie (EPS Courier Services BMW); the latter being one of only two drivers with extensive testing knowledge of the new circuit added to the 2019 season. Daniel Rowe (Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta) started in fifth place ahead of Michael van Rooyen (Gazoo Racing Toyota Corolla).

Race 1 saw Wolk and Moss involved in a Lap 1 accident which eliminated both drivers from the race. With the damage on both cars being terminal, this effectively put an end to Moss’ chances for the title after dominating the first half of the season.

A two-horse race

After the restart, it was Masters who took command to take his second win for the season. Fourie held off a persistent Van Rooyen with the pair filling the podium. Tschops Sipuka (Moss Racing / Audi / All Power) finished fourth with Rowe in fifth place; effectively ending the latter’s title hopes as well.

2019 GTC Championship

                                                               Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics

With Masters taking a second win for the season, this ensured that the battle for the title became a two-horse race between himself and Van Rooyen during the inverted grid Race 2.

The Toyota driver soon passed Rowe for the lead with the pressure mounting on Masters; especially after an incident which saw him slipping to fourth place. While Van Rooyen dominated up front, Masters benefited from an incident between Fourie and Sipuka to move up into third place.

2019 GTC Championship

                                                                  Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics

Van Rooyen took a maiden win for himself and the Gazoo Racing Toyota South Africa team in their debut season, with Fourie crossing the line in second place. Masters finished third; enough for him to take the title by two points with Van Rooyen and Fourie as runners up.

Standings decided

Rowe’s fourth place in the race was enough for him to secure fourth place on the points table ahead of Moss, while Sipuka finished fifth in the race and sixth in the championship in his debut season.

2019 GTC Championship

                                                                  Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics

In GTC2, Liebenberg (Volkswagen Motorsport Golf) merely had to record a finish in one of the races to secure his title and after dominating practice on Friday, he started his race day off by taking pole position ahead of Adrian Wood (Kyocera Volkswagen Motorsport Golf). Charl Smalberger (Universal HealthCare Volkswagen Golf) qualified third ahead of Paul Hill (Kalex Volkswagen Golf).

Wood took an early lead in Race 1 to finish with his second win for the season ahead of Liebenberg. Smalberger and Hill finished third and fourth respectively. The result was enough to see Liebenberg take the title with Wood as runner-up.

2019 GTC Championship

                                                                  Image: Reynard Gelderblom/RacePics

In Race 2, it was Liebenberg who added another win to his stellar season ahead of Wood and Hill. Smalberger did not start following gear selection issues; still taking third place in the championship.

While the weekend’s focus was on the title deciders, the event also saw the debut of the brand-new Volkswagen Super Polo to be campaigned in the 2020 season. This saw reigning triple GTC Champion Michael Stephen making his first on-track appearance for the 2019 season, giving the new racecar valuable track mileage.

For more information as well as announcements relating to the 2020 season, head to www.gtcafrica.co.za.

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