STERN CHALLENGE FOR TGRSA’S VAN ROOYEN AT PENULTIMATE ROUND OF GTC CHAMPIONSHIP
This weekend will see TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Michael van Rooyen attempt to close the gap to the leader in the 2021 Global Touring Car (GTC) title fight, Robert Wolk (Toyota Corolla). The works driver goes into the penultimate round of the season just ten points shy of the leader.
“It really has been a tough fight between the two of us this year,” says Van Rooyen. “I tend to be fast in qualifying and the first race, but then I find myself at a disadvantage in the second race of each weekend, as the reverse grid comes into play.”
Van Rooyen has recorded by far the most wins (5) of any of the GTC drivers in 2021. However, he has struggled to score meaningful points in the second race of the weekend, as he often starts at the back of the grid due to the reverse grid rules of the championship.
“Robbie has scored only two wins, but he has backed that up with seven second-place finishes, which has given him a slight edge in the standings,” continues Van Rooyen. “I often find myself fighting not only Robbie, but also his teammate (Scott Temple), which makes it difficult to finish higher than third place in the second race.”
Despite the challenges, the Rustenburg Rocket is looking forward to this weekend’s rounds at the Zwartkops Raceway, near Pretoria: “This is our home circuit, and one that we know really well. We’ve traditionally done well here, and we’re hoping for a good result this weekend.”
At the same time, teammate Mandla Mdakane will be hoping for a better performance at Round 6. The Johannesburg-based driver has struggled with reliability and form all season, and will be aiming to improve on his sixth position in the championship by scoring meaningful points this weekend.
One more race follows after this weekend, with the season concluding at Kyalami during the first weekend of December, 2021.
Race 2 saw the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA driver start at the back of the grid, in the traditional reverse order. The experienced campaigner made no bones, passing one competitor after the other, though he eventually had to settle for third place, behind the Toyota Corollas of Robert Wolk and Scott Temple.
“My only disappointment was not being able to give my team the results they so richly deserved,” continued Van Rooyen. “I was desperate to push for a second victory on the day, but with two teammates ahead of me, this was always going to be a tough task.”
Van Rooyen entered Round 5 of the 2021 GTC Championship at Red Star eight points behind Wolk, and was hoping to close the gap before heading to the final round at Zwartkops during the last weekend of October. But Wolk’s victory in Race 2, together with a second place in Race 1, saw the Chemical Logistics driver extend his lead slightly, with one round to go.
“It certainly isn’t over yet, and we saw last year that a lot can happen during the final two races,” concluded Van Rooyen. “I simply won’t have a choice at Zwartkops: It’ll be maximum attack throughout the weekend.”
Van Rooyen’s teammate, Mandla Mdakane, had another tough outing at Red Star. The Johannesburger qualified in sixth place, and finished 5th in Race 1 of the weekend. Race 2 saw him in a tussle for a podium position, but the Toyota Corolla driver ultimately lost the fight, and was classified as 16th in the race; fifth place in the GTC category.
Only one round remains in the 2021 GTC championship, with the action set for the weekend of 23 October at the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors and Specialist Official Suppliers and Technical Partners
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Toyota Financial Services and the Innovation Group. Also Hallspeed, Motus Toyota, SKF, Spanjaard, OMP, Donaldson, Mastercraft, Edgecam, 3M, Shatterprufe, Supreme Springs, Smith’s Manufacturing, TRD, First National Battery, STR8-LIGN, Duxbury Netgear, Lumotech and Plan-C Productions.