Michael Stephen dominated Round 3 of the Sasol GTC series at East London. Picture: Paul Bedford
East London – Michael Stephen and his Engen Audi A4 stormed to an emphatic double win in Round 3 of the Sasol Global Touring Cars series at the historic East London Grand Prix Circuit in a weekend of surprises, as Bradley Liebenberg gave the Mini team its first GTC2 win.

Defending champion Stephen started the first race from third on the grid behind his pole-sitting team-mate Simon Moss and Johan Fourie in the EPS Couriers BMW, out-dragging Fourie off the line and out-braking Moss to take a lead he would not relinquish.

But there was drama behind them as both works BMWs pitted at the end of the first lap to drop out of contention and hand fourth to Daniel Rowe’s factory Volkswagen Jetta, while a little further back, Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW) reeled in and passed Mathew Hodges’ Jetta – only to pit on the penultimate lap.

That left Stephen to stroll to a comfortable win, 1.5s ahead of Moss, with Fourie a further 3.5s adrift. Rowe was closing on the leading trio at the end, well clear of Hodges and a lap ahead of the BMWs.

Kosie Weyers in the Chevrolet Cruze delivered the first surprise in an entertaining GTC2 ‘race within a race’ by grabbing the early lead, before being reeled in and passed by Liebenberg; sadly, the Cruze later developed clutch trouble and dropped back to third behind Golf GTI privateer Trevor Bland. Weyers managed to hold off Craig Shorter in the second Champion Mini, ahead of Iain Stevenson (VW Golf GTI) and the less than usually competitive works Volkswagen Golf GTI duo of Keagan Masters and Mandla Mdakane.

Race 2

The reverse grid second race meant that the Sasol BMW duo of Robert Wolk and Gennaro Bonafede started from the front row and Dayne Angel led the GTC2 contingent in his brand new Honda Civic Type R.

Bonafede made the early running up front from Wolk, but the Audis were soon up to third and fourth with Stephen chasing down the BMWs, passing Wolk and then dealing with Bonafede’s rough-sounding car for the lead. Stephen pulled slightly away in the closing stages to win by 1.6s from Bonafede, with Wolk making up for a tough weekend with a hard-earned third, but Moss was struggling with the second Audi and could not hold off Fourie, Hodges or Rowe as they came home in that order.

Angel led the GTC2 bunfight for the first lap until he was tagged by Mdkane, leaving Charl Smalberger (VW Golf GTI) to battle with Stevenson and Masters for the lead. But Liebenberg and Weyers were on the move, coming up from behind until the Chev slowed and eventually stopped with clutch trauma.

Liebenberg, however, soon passed all three of the early leaders to pull off an exciting come-from-behind win and take the double, while Bland also cut through the field to finish third behind a struggling Smalberger, ahead of Shorter, Stevenson, Mdakane and Angel.

Extreme Supercars

Ferrari 430 driver Jonathan du Toit took the first race, narrowly ahead of brothers Gianni and Ricky Giannoccaro in their BMW M3s, and Darron Gudmanz in a Nissan Skyline Turbo. The Ferrari stopped with burning brakes in Race 2, leaving Gianni Giannoccaro to win from brother Ricky, Paul Hill (BMW M3) and Gudmanz.

Thunderbikes

The first Bridgestone Thunderbike race was red-flagged after seven laps when Pierre Grobler’s Kawasaki pulled an unplanned wheelie on the pit straight, ran onto the grass and pitched its rider down the track at well over 200km/h. Grobler was taken to hospital with minor injuries and the race results were taken as at the end of lap six, giving the win to Dean Vos (Kawasaki) ahead of Shaun Vermaak (Kawasaki) and Gavin Upton (Yamaha).

Vos went on to win a slightly less dramatic Race 2 as well, followed home by Travis Naude and Pierre le Roux for an all-Kawasaki podium.

Polo Cup

Jeffrey Kruger won the first Engen Polo Cup race from Matt Shorter and Shaun La Reservee, with veteran Devin Robertson showing Kruger and Shorter the way home in Race 2.

Julian van der Watt (Mygale) won both Investchem Formula 1600 races, chased home in the first outing by Brad Benningfield (General Energy F1600) and Alex Gillespie (Mygale). Cameron O’Connor (Mygale) came up to take second in Race 2, with Benningfield completing the podium.

Kawasaki Masters

Veteran Graeme van Breda won the first one-make Kawasaki Masters race ahead of Jaco Gous and Pieter de Vos, while reigning champion Sven Grune, who dropped out of Race 1 with mechanical gremlins, returned to win Race 2 from Van Breda and Gous.

IOL Motoring

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter