TGRSA finish strong in 2022 Global Touring Car fight
  • Pole position for Michael van Rooyen
  • 1st overall in Race 1 for Michael van Rooyen
  • 2nd overall in both race for Saood Variawa
  • Saood Variawa finishes debut season as runner-up
  • Successful GTC debut for Ashley Oldfield

The final race event of the 2022 Global Touring Cars (GTC) season saw TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA (TGRSA) young gun, Saood Variawa, in a battle for the title, but in the end this proved a bridge too far for the youngster, who had to settle for the runner-up position in his GTC debut season. Even so, Variawa impressed with his pace and race craft this weekend, and will certainly be a talent to watch in the future.

The weekend started with a bang for TGRSA, racing on their home circuit at Zwartkops, near the Gauteng capital of Thswane. Michael van Rooyen has long been a stalwart for the team, and the Rustenburg Rocket showed his class by outpacing the competition during qualifying, putting is GTC Toyota Corolla on pole position by 0.248sec. At the same time, Variawa went 4th-fastest, while Oldfield recorded the 7th-best time.

When the first race got under way, Van Rooyen made the most of his starting position, holding onto the lead for a flag-to-flag victory. Teammate Variawa improved on his 4th place on the grid to finish 2nd, ensuring that his championship hopes – though only mathematical – remained alive to the final heat of the year. Oldfield completed his first ever GTC race in 5th position.

The final heat of the season again featured a reversed grid, based on the results of the previous race. This meant that Oldfield started in front, and the debutant was keen on retaining this position throughout the race.

“Unfortunately, I spotted the flag denoting a slippery surface just a touch too late, and by the time I got on the brakes, the slippery stuff was under my tyres,” said Oldfield after the race. “I went off into the gravel at the Turn 2 hairpin, and that put paid to my lead. Even so, I’m grateful to Toyota for offering me the opportunity to drive one of their GTC Corollas this weekend, and it was an experience I will cherish for many years.”

In the end, Variawa was the best of the TGRSA drivers in the second heat, finishing in second place: “It was an exciting weekend, with plenty of action. In the end, I finished second in both races on the day, and as a result finished second in the championship, just behind Robert Wolk (privateer Toyota Corolla).”

For Oldfield, the Zwartkops race was an opportunity to experience the exciting world of GTC racing. Having sewn up the inaugural GR Cup with a round to spare, Oldfield drove TGRSA’s third GTC car in the final round of the season, and while he acknowledged that the car was harder to drive than anticipated, the Capetonian was proud of his performance, considering that the GTC championship is one of the toughest championships in Southern Africa. The motoring writer and parttime racer will be hoping for a regular seat in the championship, and based on his first performance, this possibility cannot be ruled out.