I attended the media launch of the GTC motorsport event at BMW’s all-new driver training academy situated at Zwartkops raceway in Pretoria. GTC stands for Global Touring Cars and that means that the rules are standardized across the grid. The racing will be close as driver skill and team strategy will be the only elements that set the cars apart.
All the cars must have the same engine capacity, in this case 2.0-litre turbocharged and they must develop the same sort of power, around 300kW or so. Big 8-cylinder engines were considered during the initial planning phase however according to race director Vic Maharaj, times have moved on since then and having a turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder is more reasonable now. The cars must be rear-wheel drive and must all have the same chassis, wheelbase, ecu, brakes and shocks to name a few. Teams will not be allowed to upgrade any components for five years. This rule ensures a level playing field and it pushes the teams and technicians to get the most out of what they have.
Another standard item is the tyres that the cars will be using. A specially designed Dunlop tyre has been developed for the series and a keen eyed viewer will notice that they are that same tyres used by the V8 supercars.
As far as racing goes, teams will have a few laps on a Friday to practice. Saturday, being race day will see them compete in two 50km stints. There will be no reverse grid as before, this is hardcore racing.
When will this new racing series take place?
GTC Director Vic Maharaj said; “Our primary objective in finalising calendar dates was that all ten GTC cars could make the first ever GTC race. We are right in the middle of trying to complete the mammoth task of building all the GTC cars and as you can imagine, that is no mean feat and we are literally working night and day to finish the cars. This is something that has never been undertaken before in SA and certainly not in such a short time frame. We are reliant on so many suppliers from around the world to deliver the exact orders to us and at the right time – the margin for error is very small.”
We can expect the event to get off the starting line within the next few months, if you can’t make it to the racetrack, don’t worry, as the event will be broadcasted on DSTV’s SuperSport channel 206.
As for the cars and teams, well we can confirm that Volkswagen, BMW and Audi will be taking part in the racing series. We can also confirm that the drivers for the cars are as follows:
Audi: Simon Moss
Audi: Michael Stephen
BMW: Michael van Rooyen
BMW: Johan Fourie
BMW: Gennaro Bonafede
BMW: Hennie Groenewald.
Volkswagen: Graeme Nathan
Volkswagen: Gugu Zulu