Volkswagen's Golf 8 GTI races to victory on its debut at opening-round of 2020 GTC Series

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar (QuickPic)
2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar (QuickPic)

SA's Global Touring Car series finally got underway with three action-packed races at Red Star Raceway near Delmas.

• A race win each for Daniel Rowe and Keagan Masters - the team's two drivers.

Rowe declared overall winner.

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Volkswagen opened its 2020 Global Touring Championship (GTC) account in the best possible way by taking victory at the opening round of this year's championship. The race weekend, won overall by Daniel Rowe, was the first motorsport, globally, where Volkswagen showcased its new Golf 8 GTI racecar, and the car impressed wholly.

Volkswagen South Africa's racing team claimed the top two positions in qualifying, followed by a first and second in race one, a first and third in race two, and another second position in race three.

Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport, said: "There is a strong relationship between what we race and what we sell as a company. Volkswagen is the leading passenger vehicle brand in South Africa, and the success of the Golf over the years has been a massive contributor.

"The arrival of the Golf 8 later this year will be a significant moment for the company and to tie in with that we made it our objective to compete with a new Golf 8 and to win in SA's premier circuit racing formula."

Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar (QuickPic)

How the weekend played out

During the Friday practice sessions, it was clear that the Golf was going to be on pace. The names of the team's two drivers, Rowe and 2019 GTC champion Keagan Masters, were near or at the top of every timing sheet leading up to Saturday morning's qualifying session. Rowe and Masters then converted their good pace into an all blue front row, with Rowe edging out Masters by a mere 0.008 seconds.

It was a mad scramble to the first corner at the Red Star Raceway near Delmas when the lights turned green to signal the start of race one. When the train of GTC cars emerged from the other side, it was the two Golfs with Rowe and Masters behind the wheels who managed to stay out in front. The two team mates managed to fend off the attack from their rivals and eventually opened up a comfortable margin to cross the finish line in first and second position, respectively.

READ: Why using the new Golf 8 GTI as the GTC race car is a masterstroke by Volkswagen SA

Race two saw much of the same, but this time it was Masters who converted his starting position into a race win. The team missed out on another one-two finish when Rowe ended up third, less than a second behind the second-placed Toyota of Rival Robert Wolk.

It was all or nothing for both Masters and Rowe during the third and final race of the day. The race saw an inverted grid which meant that the two Golfs started at the very back of the pack. They were both quick to cut their way through the field until a technical problem with the power steering unit forced Masters to abandon the race. Rowe, on the other hand, fought hard and worked his way up into second position, missing out on another victory by just 0.8sec. His placings on the day were more than enough to secure the overall victory for the weekend.

Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar (QuickPic)

Team comments

Daniel Rowe: "Thanks to the team, we had a very good car underneath us, and it was great to reward them with a maiden victory."

Keagan Masters: "It was our aim to be the first two cars across the line, and that's exactly what we managed to achieve."

Mike Rowe: "It was a good day at the office. Race victories are hard to come by, but the entire team worked very hard to achieve these results. There is always room for improvement, but we already have our sights set at the next and final round of the shortened series, which will take place in Port Elizabeth during the final weekend of October."

READ: How awesome is this? South Africa's GTC series to host racing debut of VW's Golf 8 GTI

Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar

2020 Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI GTC racecar (QuickPic)

Compiled by: Charlen Raymond

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