WhatGlobal Touring Cars Round 4 Report
WhereRed Star Raceway, Delmas
WhenSaturday 2 July 2022
CommunitySouth Africa National

Bradley bounces back with dominant double win

Bradley Liebenberg shone a little light at the end of Volkswagen’s GTC tunnel following the tragic events in the aftermath of the previous round. He stormed to a dominant double victory in Saturday’s Red Star Global Touring Car races moments after a minute’s silence for the VW team members lost in a road accident last month.

It started with Liebenberg’s Hype Energy VW Golf 8 GTI GTC squeaking onto his maiden GTC pole position on Saturday morning. He ended up just 0.095 seconds clear ahead of Robert Wolk’s Chemical Logistics Toyota Corolla GTC, with his teammate Julian van der Watt’s Ford Focus RS CTC close behind in third.

Fourth man Michael van Rooyen was within a second of the leader in the quickest of the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Corollas with Andrew Rackstraw’s Investchem RDSA Audi S3 next up. He ended up a sliver in front of Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla GTC duo Saood Variawa and Mandla Mdakane.

A first race win is always a great moment for any driver but, doing it by leading from lights out off the front of the starting grid, and staying there to the flag is even better. Which is precisely what Bradley Liebenberg achieved in the opening encounter of the GTC clash.

He grabbed the holeshot into turn 1 and was never headed as Robert Wolk hung on in second place for the duration from Julian van der Watt. Michael van Rooyen spent the initial part of the race all over van der Watt’s tail, but the Gazoo man’s Corolla ground to a halt to let Variawa, Rackstraw and Mdakane and up to the top six.

The interest was now on GTC rookie Rackstraw and Mdakane, with the Audi driver having gamely held the Corolla man at bay.  Mandla’s perseverance paid off a lap after van Rooyen stopped, to see him gain two places to fifth and it stayed that way through to the finish.

So, the reverse grid second race as always saw the first six places inverted. Which meant that Andrew Rackstraw sat on pole position from Mdkane, Variyawa and van der Watt. Wolk and Liebenberg occupied the third row ahead of van Rooyen’s repaired machine as the safety car led them away into a fiery Delmas sunset.

Rackstraw made the perfect getaway and was aided by a fair amount of jostling behind as Mdkane got hustled down the pack. Wolk soon put one on Variawa for second and van Rooyen muscled his way up to third in the gloom of dusk. Wolk quickly closed on Rackstraw, bringing van Rooyen, Variawa and Liebenberg in his wake.

It all came to a head at the bottom of the short straight on lap 4 when Rackstraw and Wolk came together and got clobbered by van Rooyen. Liebenberg saw a huge gap, took it, and sped off. Wolk, who was clearly now struggling in second from Variawa, Mdkane, Rackstraw’s sick Audi and van Rooyen way back.

Nothing would stop Bradley Liebenberg and his Hype Energy Golf GTI from not only taking a hugely popular Volkswagen double victory, but also a grand slam with pole position and both fastest race laps. Variawa duly picked Wolk off for second with Mdkane fourth from van der Watt and the touring Rackstraw and van Rooyen.

Overall, Liebenberg took the day from Wolk, Variawa, van der Watt, Mdkane, Rackstraw and van Rooyen. Wolk meanwhile did enough to eke out a tiny extra championship advantage over Variawa with van Rooyen third from van der Watt and Liebenberg the big mover behind. 

The Next Global Touring Car outing is at the East London Grand Prix Circuit’s fifth round Extreme Festival races, Saturday 6 August.


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