The new engine rules introduced for the 2018 Sasol GTC Championship season have injected a new lease of life into the Volkswagen Motorsport squad ahead of the opening round at Kyalami on 24th March.
Pre-season testing has left Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe confident that the 2018 season will see Volkswagen in winning form.
The task of preparing and running the cars has been given to Nathan’s Motorsport and the Jetta’s are now capable of delivering 500hp in qualifying trim which is significantly more than what the Jetta’s produced at the beginning of the 2017 season. The newly liveried Jetta GTCs will be a force to be reckoned with when the series hits the tracks for the first of nine rounds at the famous Midrand circuit.
During the first tests of the new generation Jetta GTC, both drivers arrived back in the pits very wide eyed. “The difference in handling and performance is marked and the racing is going to be a real spectacle”, enthused Hodges after his first run at the Zwartkops circuit.
“Everything happens a lot quicker and you have to be wide awake. It’s like going from slo-mo to fast forward and previously unexciting turns have become real corners. The Jettas will be competitive with anything out there and I’m looking forward to be racing at the front and fighting for victories”.
Daniel Rowe is equally bubbly about the year ahead. The 24-year old Biokinetic student said:
“I feel I have a race-winning car under me. The Volkswagen team has taken a significant leap forward over the break. The new Jetta is the most powerful car I have driven to date; it feels alive and agile but requires patience with the throttle with so much power available. I have to hit my internal reset button as my previous reference points to brake markers are no longer valid, as you arrive at corners carrying so much more speed. The team has made significant progress with the torque curve as well, which rockets the car out of tight corners. I‘m really excited about the whole team’s chances this year and look forward to fighting for my first GTC victory."
In GTC2 for two-litre, front-wheel drive cars, Keagan Masters returns to the track in his Volkswagen Advanced Driving Golf GTI to defend his championship title.
“It is not going to be a walk in the park this year. The competition has a year’s worth of experience and I expect the competition be a lot closer and the racing so much more competitive. We are racing on full slick tyres this year (as opposed to semi-slick tyres last year) which offer so much more grip; my times in testing are 1.2 seconds quicker than last year, which is an incredible gain”.
Joining the GTC2 Volkswagen factory squad is Adrian Wood, a graduate from the Polo Cup series. Driving a second factory Golf GTI in partnership with Kyocera, 22 year-old Wood is exciting about his new challenge.
“I was surprised by the power of the GTC2 Golf GTI on my first acquaintance with the car. I tested it with both the old and new specification tyres and the difference is remarkable. On slicks, the car feels very planted on the track which inspires a lot of confidence. I hope to be fighting for podiums by mid-year and challenging for wins by the end of the year”.
Volkswagen Motorsport Manger, Mike Rowe summed up his team ahead of the season:
“We have a great team of very talented engineers and drivers in our camp. The team has worked hard evaluating different engine configurations and I am confident that we have arrived at the optimal solution”.
“Testing has shown that Mathew and Daniel will be competitive; I’m not saying we’re going to go out and win everything, but we will be consistently in the mix at the front of the field. In GTC2, Keagan should once again be the one to beat while Adrian brings fresh new blood into the team running in the red and white Kyocera colours”.