The Red Star Raceway near Delmas played host to the final and eighth round of the 2019 Global Touring Cars Championship (GTC), a series which receives great support from South Africa’s motoring giant Volkswagen.
As a result, the team from Uitenhage was on the edge of making motorsport history in Delmas with just two races standing between them and no less than four different titles.
The Volkswagen Motorsport team came to Delmas with very clear objectives in mind.
"Every team races to win. We came to the final round with a mission to win both the GTC and GTC2 Drivers as well as Manufacturers titles," said an elated Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport after the event.
"We knew that we were in a good position to reach most of our goals, but to achieve all four was fantastic," he added.
The overall success was a result of hard work, not only at the last event but throughout the entire season.
The team’s GTC drivers Daniel Rowe and Keagan Masters were in the mix on almost every event, and when the points were added before the last round, both were in with a chance to claim the title.
Masters had a slender lead of just 2 points over title rivals Simon Moss and Michael van Rooyen which meant that whoever finished ahead of the other ones on the day would be crowned the champion.
Clear of traffic
A rainstorm early on raceday caused the qualifying session to be declared a wet one, so the Jettas took to the track in wet weather tyres. The times were tumbling towards the end of the session as the circuit dried out but when the flag was waved, it was Masters who put his Jetta on the front row of the grid with the second-fastest time.
More importantly, he managed to out-qualify his main title rivals while Rowe’s fifth-place also forced title rival Van Rooyen down to sixth. Masters was very aware of the fact that he needed to stay out of trouble in both races to score points so the youngster was happy to steer clear of traffic on the opening laps of race one.
But an incident between one of his title rivals (Simon Moss) and the BMW of pole setter Robert Wolk on lap 2 cleared the way for Masters to race off into the distance and to a comfortable race victory. After the calculations were made, the new points table revealed that Masters’ only title rival with one final race to go was Michael van Rooyen.
The latter had to win the race and the Volkswagen driver had to finish fourth or lower to not win the title. Masters started from the back of the reverse grid but fought his way through the field and up into third where he stayed until the checkered flag was waved.
Meanwhile, teammate Rowe was leading the race until he got punted off by a competitor. Rowe recovered and went on to set the fastest lap of the race, confirming Volkswagen’s competitiveness in the process.
Hard work and effort
All eyes, however, were on Masters as his team welcomed him back in the pits to congratulate him on winning SA’s premier circuit racing title.
"It’s an unbelievable feeling and it hasn’t sunk in yet. I am fortunate to have a wonderful team and I would like to thank them for all the hard work they put in throughout the season that allowed us to win the title," said a very happy Masters.
Teammate Rowe was just as pleased.
"As a team, we had a very competitive season. Congratulations to Keagan who’s consistency throughout the season paid off. It’s a great team result and I’m already looking forward to next year," Rowe added.
With Volkswagen taking the overall GTC Drivers and Manufacturers title, the squad were well on their way to achieve all of their goals.
Thanks to the efforts of Bradley Liebenberg and Adrian Wood, the team already clinched the GTC2 Manufacturers award at the previous round, so all that remained was for Liebenberg to convert his dominance into the GTC 2 title, something which he managed to do after finishing second in Race 1.
The win went to teammate Wood while Liebenberg bounced back to celebrate his title with a victory in the final race of the season.
"It’s been an amazing season. We had the pace all season long and to finally be crowned champion is a fantastic feeling," said Liebenberg.
"We came here to win. Motorsport can be both cruel and unpredictable which makes all of these achievements bittersweet," added Mike Rowe.
"It’s a result of hard work from all involved and I would also like to thank Volkswagen for supporting motorsport. Whilst we are celebrating a great season this year, we have already started thinking about how to repeat our successes next year," he concluded.