Review: Sasol GTC2 Championship, Rd 9 –Zwartkops Raceway, 20th October
Devin Robertson raced his Champion MINI John Cooper Works to a second-place finish at the final round of the Sasol GTC2 Championship held at Zwartkops Raceway, cementing his runner-up position in the overall championship standings in the final outing for the MINI team.
Brad Liebenberg added another third-place trophy to his collection in the final race of the season, the Ferodo MINI John Cooper Works driver retaining his third overall standing on the final points table.
The MINI pair started the weekend on a strong note, running in the top three during Friday’s free practice sessions. When the clocks were running in Saturday’s qualifying session, Robertson took a front-row slot with Liebenberg lining up fourth.
Robertson made a scorching start in the first 12-lap race, taking the lead from the fast starting Liebenberg, Keagan Masters (VW Golf) and Charl Smalberger (VW Golf). Liebenberg was passed by Masters and Smalberger but Robertson hung on to the lead for three laps before Masters wormed his way past the flying Champion car. He shadowed the leader for lap after lap, unable to find a way past, ending the race 0.76 seconds adrift.
In race two, from an inverted grid, Liebenberg muscled his way past Smalberger on lap three, racing hard in a pack of hot-hatches racing bumper-to-bumper. Although he lost a position on the track, Trevor Bland (VW Golf) was later penalised for a rule infringement which elevated him back on to the podium.
Running at the back of the pack from the inverted grid, Robertson’s MINI ran hot, forcing him to back off from the fight ahead to let the car cool down. Robertson see-sawed his way through the race to end in a strong fourth place.
“I made a great start and led the field for a few laps before Masters came past me. Second in the race was the best I could do today. It’s been a tough season but I have scored some decent results”, said Robertson. “I’ve had two wins and seven podiums and second in the championship in my first season in GTC2 is a fair outcome”.
“I missed one practice session as I was writing an exam. The car was quick through the corners but we were missing a little top end speed. I made a demon start in the first race and was alongside Devin going into turn one but I was on the wrong line for turn two so Keagan and Charl slipped past”, Liebenberg related. “I made another decent start in race two and stuck my elbows out to muscle past Charl. It was a fun race. Overall, the season was a mixed bag. We started well but had a mid-season slump before coming back in Port Elizabeth.”
Signature Motorsport has brought the curtain down on their GTC2 campaign as it focuses on other motorsport opportunities for 2019. Team Manager Ronnie Erasmus said: “Signature Motorsport would like to thank MINI South Africa for their support while representing their brand at the highest level. We are grateful to Federal Mogul for their continued support. I believe by running the MINI John Cooper Works, we have generated huge publicity for our partners. Without Shaun van der Linde, the campaign would not have gained traction. From building the cars in three weeks to his tireless efforts over the past two years he has been the anchor in the team”.