Round 2 of the 2024 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA GR Cup, which took place at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit on the weekend of 13 April, saw Sean Nurse (AutoTrader) extend his overall lead thanks to two race wins, despite CAR’s Alex Shahini outpacing the log leader during Qualifying.

Shahini, who finished third in both of the opening races at Killarney in Cape Town earlier this year, found surprising pace from the very first practice session for Round 2. Even so, Nurse was somewhat surprised to find himself starting from the second position for Race 1, as Shahini took pole, just 0.1sec ahead of Nurse.

Hannes Visser (La’t Wiel) was the next of the GR Cup media competitors, who are all driving GR Corollas this year. Jaco van der Merwe (Citizen) was in fourth place, with Kumbi Mtshakazi (Kumbi-M on Cars) and Bernie Hellberg (Driven) completing the starting grid. To make things more interesting, five GR Yaris joined the fray, in the hands of Toyota dealer representatives and other guests. These cars shared the starting grid with the media entries, adding to the excitement both for the drivers and the fans.

As the first race of the day got under way, Shahini found himself under pressure from Nurse early on, with the latter using the entry into Sunset to pass the CAR scribe on the inside. At the same time, Visser managed to squeeze past one of the GR Yaris drivers as well as Shahini, moving into second place behind Nurse.

A ding-dong battle ensued, with Visser pushing as hard as he dared to stay with Nurse, hoping to find an opening to take the lead. The La’t Wiel driver ran slightly wide after a particularly close encounter with the back of Nurse’s car, and dropped back as a result. This opened the door for Shahini, who romped into second place – a position he maintained until the finish.

Visser continued to push in an attempt to regain the position he lost to Shahini, but after six laps he had a big off in Turn 1. The GR Corolla rolled over and came to rest on a catch fence from where Visser emerged shaken but unhurt, underlining the value of the state-of-the-art safety equipment that is used in the GR Cup. A similar fate befell Shahini in the second race, and a subsequent investigation of both cars showed that they had both encountered technical problems with the braking system, which will be further probed prior to the next round.

In the end, Visser was classified in third place, as the race had to be red-flagged, which resulted in the standings from the previous lap being used for the results. This put Nurse in first place with Shahini in second. Van der Merwe, Mtshakazi and Hellberg completed the results for the media entries.

Race 2 saw Nurse and Shahini start side by side for the second time on one day, though this time it was Nurse who had the edge. The expected battle between the two came to an abrupt halt when Shahini left the tarmac, promoting Van der Merwe to second place. Mtshakazi was in third, with Hellberg in fourth. Shahini was classified in fifth, as he had completed four laps of the 6-lap race – enough to be included in the results.

This means that Nurse is provisionally on 28 points, with Shahini in second place on 17 points. Visser slipped down into third overall on 14 points, while Van der Merwe’s solid result in Race 2 promoted him to fourth, on 11 points. Hellberg (10 points) and Mtshakazi (9 points) round out the GR Cup results.

GR 86 Development Academy

Setshaba Mashigo, taking part in the GR 86 Development Academy for 2024, had a tough outing at Kyalami. The 2023 GR Cup winner qualified 2sec off the pace set by log leader, Dawie van der Merwe, and ended the first race in sixth place. He did not improve on this position during the second race, and will be hoping for a better outing at Round 3. At the same time, Van der Merwe showed his class, having made the leap from a front-wheel-drive formula in the past (Polo Cup) to the rear-wheel-driven GR86. Despite this fundamental change, he has been mixing it up with both the GR Yaris and GR Corolla in terms of pace.

Next up is the Zwartkops Speed Festival, which will take place on 17 and 18 May. Hosted at the Zwartkops Raceway, this event is a home race for most of the competitors in many ways, as the GR Cup cars are based at Zwartkops, and most of the practice and training has taken place at the Gauteng circuit.

GR CUP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2*

1. Sean Nurse – 28 points

2. Alex Shahini – 17 points

3. Hannes Visser – 14 points

4. Jaco van der Merwe – 11 points

5. Bernie Hellberg – 10 points

6. Kumbi Mtshakazi – 9 points

* provisional standings

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing South Africa Acknowledges Its Sponsors

Toyota enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with Toyota Financial Services, Garmin, Dunlop, Ferodo and Kinto.

STORY COURTESY OF TOYOTA GAZOO RACING

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