The new-look Volkswagen Motorsport Team had a weekend of mixed results with Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe getting their Sasol GTC Championship scoreboard ticking over after claiming fifth and sixth places in the opening round at Kyalami on Saturday.
After a troubled qualifying session that left Rowe in fifth place and Hodges in eighth position, Hodges worked his way through the field to cross the finishing line in a commendable second place after nine frenetic laps of racing. A post-race technical inspection found the #57 Jetta GTC to have over-boosted during gear-changes and was handed a penalty which knocked the Boksburg driver down to fifth place.
Rowe recovered from a practice accident that saw the youngster crash in session four on Friday after his throttle stuck open, cutting into his set-up time for the official qualifying session. From his fifth place grid position, Rowe was tapped into a spin by Simon Moss (Audi), dropping him to the back of the field. He raced hard over the remaining laps, setting consistently fast laps as he fought his way through the field, taking home eight points for his sixth place finish.
Rowe started race two from pole position and raced into the lead; going through the kink towards the end of the first lap he made a small mistake and put all four wheels off the track, colliding with Johan Fourie as he rejoined the circuit. Hodges retired with a mechanical issue on lap two.
On the GTC2 side of the Volkswagen pit, Keagan Masters rocketed his Golf GTi into pole position and after a feisty few laps, saw off all his competitors, racing to an untroubled victory to get his title defence off to a perfect start. In race two, Masters was forced to retire with suspension problems on lap four.
Volkswagen Motorsport newcomer Adrian Wood, driving with Kyocera support, qualified a superb second and held his position against more experienced rivals until his car went into limp mode, dropping the youngster to fifth at the chequered flag.
In the second race, Wood ran wide at the bottom of Mineshaft and lost control of his Golf, which slammed into the wall. Wood was unhurt in the brutal accident, testimony to the excellent integrity inherent in the Golf GTi.
Volkswagen Motorsport Manager Mike Rowe said:
“What we can take away is that we have a significantly more competitive package, a well presented professional team and determined drivers. We are in better shape than other teams who all go home with very badly damaged cars. We will spend the next three weeks preparing even harder for Cape Town”.
Volkswagen Motorsport heads to Cape Town’s Killarney International Raceway for the second round of the championship on 21st April.