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A fresh start for South Africa's premier circuit racing category

A fresh start for South Africa's premier circuit racing category

South Africa’s premier circuit racing series, Global Touring Cars will bounce back into a brand new era in 2021. With improvements under the cars’ skins, Toyota Gazoo Racing and Investchem Racing will each run a pair of Toyota Corolla GTCs, while a BMW 2 Series Coupe GTC will return to the track and a Ford Focus GTC makes its debut. Which means that GTC will meet its prerequisite six entries to be a South African national racing championship.

Those six are expected to be joined by two other cars at the start of the season, while Volkswagen’s plans with its stunning new Golf 8 GTIs remain to be seen. The most significant change however revolves around under the skin changes to the cars, to correct flaws that previously blighted GTC reliability over the years. These improvements are expected to rid the series of its former reputation of its cars being brittle.

“There were rumours doing the rounds over December that GTC was dead,” SA racing stalwart and Investchem Racing boss Ian Schofield explains. “Quite frankly nothing could be further from the truth. “One of the teams may have considered pulling out, but as they say, one team does not constitute a championship.

“Toyota Gazoo Racing and Investchem Racing remain fully committed to GTC — we will be running four Toyota Corollas — the biggest selling cars in history — between us, and there is a BMW 2 series coming back and a Ford Focus is joining the fray. “We hope to confirm another two cars very soon — those are not the new Volkswagen Golfs, which we also wait for confirmation on. “That will make for eight to ten cars driven by South Africa’s top drivers.”

The prospect of ten, if not more cars on the grid makes the premier 2021 South African GTC Championship a thrilling one. “Very seldom over the years were there ever six cars competing in a top class SA national tin-top series,” Schofield points out. “Even in the headiest days of Group 1, Group N and Modifieds, it was good to have five or six class A cars turn up. For 2020 we will have eight to ten, if not more closely matched GTCs on the grid.”

GTC was introduced to replace the old Production Cars in 2015 and went on to deliver some great racing over the subsequent seasons, albeit often blighted by reliability problems. In an effort to right those wrongs, GTC did not constitute a championship in 2020 as the teams collectively decided to rather utilise the lockdown pause to rectify those reliability issues.

“For whatever reasons, while they were mostly top class machines, the initial batch of GTC race cars were not built to the correct specification in two areas — their chassis were prone to crack and while their Life electronic control systems are the best, the original wiring looms were not,” Schofield elaborated. “Our cars now have the correct chrome molybdenum steel chassis and race-spec wiring looms to match those ECUs.

“We have now tested the equivalent of a full season without any real problems, so we're confident that those troubles are now a thing of the past. “For the rest, the GTC cars were always brilliantly put together — these are spectacular thoroughbred race cars and now that we have those issues addressed, we are sure GTC is on the threshold of a great new era.”

The 2021 South African National GTC Championship commences at the opening round of the Extreme Festival at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town on 20 March. The entry list, car and driver details will be confirmed closer to the time.