Pretoria - Volkswagen is investing in the future of South African motorsport with the establishment of a Motorsport Academy.

The academy will not only make driving courses commercially available to the public, but participants that show the most promise will be selected for a final shootout in November, where they will stand a chance to earn a place in the Volkswagen factory team.

“The Volkswagen Motorsport Academy’s main goal will be to ensure the sustainability of motorsport and especially circuit racing going forward,” Volkswagen SA said at its motorsport launch event on Feburary 1.

“Over the past three years, the company, through its motorsport division and associated Volkswagen Advanced Driving Academy, has successfully unearthed raw driving talent through an innovative talent-search programme. For 2019, Volkswagen is pleased to announce that it has expanded even more through the establishment of a dedicated Volkswagen Motorsport Academy.”

The Academy will be headed up by multiple circuit racing champion Michael Stephen, who is extremely upbeat about the new challenge.

“Motorsport has given me so much over the years, I am very excited to now be able to give something back,” Stephen enthused.

“South Africa has produced some great drivers over the years and I can’t wait to play a part in finding and developing the next batch.”

2019 driver line-up

Volkswagen also used Friday’s event to announce its 2019 driver line-up, as well as a new title sponsor for its Polo Cup, Falken Tyres. The series will now be known as the Falken Polo Cup.

Volkswagen’s 2019 works team for the Polo Cup will consist of Jonathan Mogotsi, who came “agonisingly close” to clinching last year’s title, and Raais Asmal, who has honed his skills in a regional series.

"Raais has come a long way in a short time and we believe that he is now ready for the big time,” Volkswagen SA said.

“He has a very mature approach to things and we are looking forward to seeing his progress in 2019."

The company will also field four cars in the GTC series, Bradley Liebenberg joining Adrian Wood driving Golf GTIs in the GTC2 category, while double GTC2 champion Keagan Masters moves to the premier GTC category where he will drive a Jetta alongside Daniel Rowe.

IOL Motoring