Engen Xtreme driver Michael Stephen heads into Round Seven of the 2017 Sasol GTC Africa at Killarney on Saturday, 9 September as the new championship leader, a healthy 51-points now separating the defending champion from second-placed Gennaro Bonafede of the Sasol GTC Racing Team.
Stephen grabbed the championship lead in the previous round’s racing at Zwartkops Raceway in August with a dominant display seeing the Port-Elizabeth resident take two race wins on the day.
With his early season mechanical gremlins now firmly behind him, Stephen will be looking to put some real daylight between himself and the chasing pack at Killarney, a track on which he enjoyed two race wins in the corresponding round last season.
“Michael’s start to the 2017 season was a bit of a rocky, but he's gone from strength-to-strength, and heads into Round Seven at Killarney as the inform driver and well on track to defend his title,” says Engen Xtreme team principal, Terry Moss of Terry Moss Racing.
Stephen has won seven of the last nine races and finished second once to appear on the podium eight times so far this season. The only other Sasol GTC Africa racer who can match him for podium appearances is his Engen Xtreme teammate, Simon Moss.
For Moss, Killarney is an opportunity to close the gap on Bonafede and move into second place of the nine round championship, as the Engen Xtreme team chases a 1-2 in the final standings.
“Simon started the year as a star racer, finishing second in each race and getting six points for his qualifying performance in the opening round. Since then he has also been on a strong upward track, able to pounce for second place overall in the championship,” says Terry Moss.
Moss has also produced eight podium results, seven of these for second-place finishes. It is a consistency that is paying rich dividends as Moss now trails Bonafede by just 47 points, despite still awaiting his first race victory of season.
With three rounds left of the 2017 season – Kyalami and Zwartkops on 4 and 25 November following Killarney - there are six races left, with 50 points per race win and bonus points for the top three qualifiers and fastest lap in each race.
“This provides significant opportunity for Simon to close the gap to Bonafede – and for Mike to further widen the gap to his opposition,” adds Terry Moss.
The Engen Xtreme team have proved themselves headline earners in the Sasol GTC Africa and won't be slowing down any time soon as they push their Engen Xtreme Audi A3s to the limit until the end of the season.