By GIFT NDOLWANE
JOHANNESBURG – REIGNING champion Michael Stephen has put a horrid start to his title defence behind him by claiming victory at the second round of the 2017 Sasol Global Car Touring Championship at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand, South Africa.
Having failed to finish the opening races in Cape Town last month, the Engen Xteme / Terry Moss Racing driver opened his championship points haul with a win in race two this weekend, his first race victory since the penultimate round last year.
With thousands of fans attending the Kyalami Motorsport Festival, South Africa’s premier circuit racing series delivered thrilling edge-of-your-seat racing with Stephen dominating early.
Setting the fastest time in qualifying of 1m50.765sec in his Audi A3 GTC racecar, the Port Elizabeth driver’s time was a full two seconds faster than his 2016 qualifying time at the same circuit.
Joining Stephen on the front row of the grid for race one was current championship leader Gennaro Bonafede (#32), who was in solid form in his Sasol-backed BMW 2 Series GTC.
Starting from third – and making three different manufacturers in the top three places – was Volkswagen Motorsport’s Mathew Hodges (#57) in his VW Jetta GTC, while the rest of the GTC grid all qualifyed within two seconds of frontrunner Stephen.
GTC2 saw 17-year-old Volkswagen works driver Keegan Masters (#18) continue his dominant form, claiming his first GTC2 pole with a 2m 00.727sec lap time around the world-famous former Grand Prix circuit located in Midrand, Johannesburg.
His teammate Mandla Mdakane (#44) took third in qualifying, while Trevor Bland (#5) – who is currently second in the GTC2 championship – took second to ensure Volkswagen locked out the top three places.
Stephen bounces back at Kyalami Grand Prix
By GIFT NDOLWANE