National circuit racing action returns to the Eastern Cape for the second time in 2017, but this time, the Sasol GTC series will visit the famous Aldo Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth on Friday and Saturday 14 and 15 July. Not only will PE-based race fans get the opportunity to witness the spectacle created by SA’s premiere circuit racing formula, but loyal Volkswagen fans will get the chance to get up close and personal with their heroes.
“Our two Jettas are based in Gauteng, but Volkswagen’s factory in Uitenhage is not far from the Aldo Scribante circuit and Volkswagen have a lot of fans in the Port Elizabeth area,” commented Mr. Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “We as a company will also host what will be called the Volkswagen National Race Day, so it will be an important weekend for us.”
Unfortunately a phenomenon called the sponsor’s curse exists, which has proved to influence a sponsor’s results at their own events. It is said that a sponsor very rarely wins its own event. “We have most certainly proved the myth wrong by dominating many Volkswagen Rallies in our own backyard over the years, so there is no reason why we can’t do the same at the circuit,” continued Rowe. The team’s two factory GTC drivers have lots of positives to take with them into this crucial stage of the championship. Mathew Hodges completed a very tough Round 4 at the Zwartkops Raceway in Pretoria on the podium with a third position overall. “We set the second fastest time of all in qualifying, so we are happy that our pace is getting to where it should be,” said Hodges just days before taking the flight to Port Elizabeth. “Now it’s just a matter of standing on the top steps, and we would like nothing more than to do it in front of our fans and at the home of Volkswagen in the Eastern Cape.”
The last time the team raced in the Eastern Cape was two months ago in East London where Hodges’ teammate Daniel Rowe finished on the podium. He was however excluded from the results following a protest from a rival competitor for an alleged blocking incident. “We knew at the time that we didn’t do anything wrong,” said Daniel Rowe. After the evidence was analysed and the MSA rules were applied, Rowe’s podium finish was reinstated and his points were awarded. “After that we had a difficult weekend at Zwartkops, so I’ve never been as determined as I am now to perform in front of my home crowd in Port Elizabeth.”
Hodges and Rowe won’t be the only ones eager to perform at the Volkswagen National Race Day. In the very hotly contested GTC 2 category, Volkswagen’s Keagan Masters and teammate Mandla Mdakane will have their hands full in an effort to place their Golf GTi’s on the top steps once again. Masters is currently leading the championship following a series of victories, but he has been challenged by his own teammate as well as the competition of late. “Mandla as well as a number of other competitors are getting very fast, so I’m expecting a tough race as always,” said the youngster. “In the Golf GTIs, we do however have an excellent car and we also have a great team preparing them. We know how to win and it is our every intention to maintain our points lead by going for gold in Port Elizabeth.”
“Hosting an event and competing in front of your home crowd always adds a little pressure, but we’ve done our work and our team is ready to perform come race day,” concluded Mike Rowe.