Stars align at Zwartkops Raceway! After a dream debut resulting in two podiums at the same venue in Round 1, a baptism of fire at Killarney in Round 2, round 3 of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Cup was the breakthrough weekend I had been looking forward to for a long time!
The first practice session saw me set the second best time behind Chad Lückoff, who seemed to have finally found his footing behind the wheel of the Toyota GR 86. The lap times weren’t especially stellar as we were the de facto track sweepers going out onto a very green, cold and moist surface.
Free practice 2 and 3 were a return to form for me, topping the timing sheets in each session. It was looking good, very good. Friday evening was spent pouring over my onboard footage and data to extract a monster lap in qualifying the next day. Conditions were as perfect as can be on Saturday morning – cold crisp air and a dry track with plenty of traction aiding rubber embedded into the surface.
After battling traffic for most of the quali session, the timer indicated one lap remaining and urged me to throw caution to the wind and lay down the gauntlet. Boom, 01:13.87, a new GR 86 record that put me in pole position for Race 1!
Lückoff was siamesed to my bumper the moment the lights went out, eventually capitalising on a mistake I made at turn 2 on the final lap. It seemed like a certain victory was snatched away, but a race is never over until you cross the finish line. I tidied up my lines, laid on the pressure and Lückoff, whose luck has so far constantly evaded him, entered turn 6 a touch too hot and lost the rear of the 86, compromising his exit and opening the door for me to claim back first place with seconds to spare! Denis Droppa of Times Live snuck past Lückoff to snatch second place.
Race 2 was a much less eventful cruise to the finish line, for me at least. Cunning silver fox Droppa gave Lückoff a massive headache for the entire race with the two ultimately trading paint and leaving Droppa worse off with broken front left suspension and retiring with a lap to go. It was chaos and entertainment between Brendon Staniforth, Mark Jones and Reuben van Niekerk bringing up the rear.
The brilliant Toyota GR Cup’s second outing to Zwartkops was an absolute blast, and securing a double victory to establish a championship lead is more than I could ever ask for. See you in Gqeberha for Round 4 at the Aldo Scribante circuit!