Preview: GTC Championship resumes in East London

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Michael van Rooyen
Michael van Rooyen
Reynard Gelderblom

Robert Wolk holds a slender lead over Michael van Rooyen.

The race takes place at the Border Motorsport East London Grand Prix Circuit.

Saturday's first 12-lap race will start at 12:00, with the 15-lap second race scheduled for 14:55.

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Following an extended break brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Global Touring Cars season resumes at the Border Motorsport East London Grand Prix Circuit this coming weekend (August 27-28).

This will be the first visit to one of South Africa's most historic circuits since 2019 for the GTC Championship, with Robert Wolk holding a slender lead over Michael van Rooyen. It is also the first appearance at the circuit for the GTC SupaCup, with the reigning champion Brad Liebenberg tied for the lead with the most recent race winner Jonathan Mogotsi.

Michael van Rooyen
Michael van Rooyen

Close contest for GTC Championship supremacy Robert Wolk (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) and Michael van Rooyen (Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota Corolla) battling at the top of the points table has been emulating their on-track tussles throughout the season. Wolk, with 103 points, leads Van Rooyen by seven points, but it is the latter who holds the race-win advantage with a victory in each of the season's three rounds.

While Wolk has only won a single race so far, he holds the better start-versus-podium conversation rate. Wolk also heads up the Dunlop Polo Position count, while Van Rooyen leads the Fastest Lap count. Being the only two drivers to have competed at the circuit in the GTC Championship previously, they are tied on six starts each. Neither of them have a race win to their name at the Eastern Cape circuit.

Tied for third place on 72 points are Julian van der Watt (Autozone Ford Focus ST) and Lee Thompson (Universal Racing BMW 2 GTC). Van der Watt is eager to add another race victory to his name following his maiden win on debut, while Thompson has emerged as a consistent points scorer who is looking more competitive in each round as the team develops the car.

Julian van der Watt
Julian van der Watt

Scott Temple (Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla) and Mandla Mdakane (Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla) conclude the points table with 65 and 57 points, respectively. While Temple already has taken a race win, Mdakane's hunt for his maiden victory continues. Both eager to improve their positions, they could also play a significant role in the battle between their teammates at the top of the points table.

All even at the top of the GTC SupaCup

After three rounds of the GTC SupaCup season, Brad Liebenberg (Sparco / Nathan's Motorsport) and Jonathan Mogotsi (Volkswagen Motorsport South Africa) are tied for the lead on 95 points. While this round will be the first outing at the circuit for the class, Liebenberg comes to East London with a superb record in GTC2. East London is the venue where he took his maiden double victory. Mogotsi has been consistent throughout the season and took his first step on top of the podium in Round 3.

Rui Campos
Rui Campos

READ | Wolk retakes GTC Championship points lead as Mogotsi celebrates victory at the home of VW SA

Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Racing), Jason Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Campos Racing) and season-debutant Saood Variawa (SV Safaris / Varia / Mariner) respectively have 79, 76 and 71 points to their names and would not like the duo at the top to extend their advantage any further. While both Kruger and Campos have won races, Variawa will be eager to take his first win, having already stepped onto the podium twice.

Further back, debutant Mikaeel Pitamber (Toys R Us / Creative Ink Media) accumulated 48 points. Since making his circuit debut, it has been a prolific rise for Pitamber, who has been competing in various top categories, including the South African GT Racing Association, in which he celebrated a victory at this circuit earlier in the season.

There is a Masters battle inside the GTC SupaCup class, which is headed up by Andre Bezuidenhout (Motul Team Perfect Circle) with 38 points to his name. Following his cameo appearance in 2020, Rui Campos (Turn 1 Insurance Campos Racing) has made a full-time return to the series and became Bezuidenhout's main rival for the Masters' title after Gqeberha with 18 points. Nick Davidson (Stu Davidson & Sons) with 16 points and Johan de Bruyn (Odorcure) with 12 points are also close contenders.

Robert Wolk
Robert Wolk

Manogh Maharaj (SMD Exotics) and teammate Shaun Duminy will be eager to step forward in this battle as well, while Dawie Joubert (Wild Rose Gin Rembrandt Racing) would like to add more points to his tally following the technical difficulties that kept him out of Round 3. Samuel Hammond will be making his championship debut.

Weekend programme and broadcast

Friday will see four practice sessions ahead of Saturday morning's qualifying session. Saturday's first 12-lap race will start at 12:00, with the 15-lap second race scheduled for 14:55.

There remains a prohibition on the in-person attendance of spectators at sporting events. Fans will be able to follow the entire day's racing via the Global Touring Cars Facebook page and 2 Wheels YouTube channel.

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