TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa (TGRSA) faced a thrilling and challenging weekend of racing at the iconic East London Grand Prix Circuit for Round 5 of the 2023 Global Touring Cars (GTC) championship. The action-packed weekend saw the team demonstrate their skill and determination, battling it out on the fast and historic circuit.
The weekend commenced with practice sessions on Friday, held under changeable weather conditions, setting the tone for an unpredictable race weekend. Saturday's qualifying session took place in dry conditions, with Saood Variawa showing impressive pace in his GR Corolla GTC. Variawa secured the second spot on the grid, just 0.105 seconds behind pole-sitter Robert Wolk, who campaigns a privately entered Toyota Corolla GTC. Michael van Rooyen secured the third-fastest time, only 0.310 seconds behind his teammate; while Nathi Msimanga, in the third TGRSA GR Corolla GTC, set the fifth-fastest time, trailing pole position by 0.512 seconds.
Race 1 proved to be a tough contest, with drivers navigating the fearsomely fast East London Grand Prix Circuit. Despite a valiant effort, Saood Variawa had to settle for a second place finish behind Robert Wolk. Michael van Rooyen had a disappointing outing, finishing as the last of the GTC competitors. Unfortunately, Nathi Msimanga encountered an electronics problem, leading to overheating and a pit stop, before completing the last four laps of the opening race.
The second race brought further challenges for Michael van Rooyen, as he struggled to make an impact on the results. Nathi Msimanga was forced to retire his car due to engine temperature issues that exceeded the safe limits, most likely a complication caused by his earlier problems. Nonetheless, Saood Variawa fought valiantly, securing a second consecutive second-place finish, trailing Robert Wolk to the chequered flag once again.
"The weekend didn't quite go according to plan, but I'm pleased to have secured valuable points with two consecutive second-place finishes," said Variawa after the weekend’s races. "The competition was fierce, and we faced some unexpected challenges, but as a team, we remain determined and focused on delivering strong performances in the upcoming rounds."
With Round 5 now complete, TGRSA is fully focused on the upcoming rounds of the championship, aiming to further improve their performance in the remaining races. The next round of the championship will take place at the Killarney Race Track, in the Mother City, early in September.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors
Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Toyota Financial Services, Netstar, Garmin, Dunlop and Kinto.