Ready, steady: The media team raced GR86s that were equipped with race tires, big brakes, and a roll cage.
R.The first round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Cup at Zwartkops Raceway could not have gone better for the Association of South African Motoring Media team.
The build up to the race weekend was packed with introductions from the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa team, Fast Developments, who prepared the GR86s we would be racing with, and my fellow motorsport scribes with whom I hope I won’t swap paint. in the 2023 season.
The citizenMark Jones and BMW Car Club racer returns as a veteran of the 2022 season, Denis Droppa of TimesLiveBrendon Staniforth’s maroela mediaAutoTrader’s Chad Lückoff with a background in drifting, and freelance writer Reuben van Niekerk, representing the Jumping Kids initiative, were selected to battle for the title of Fastest Motorsports Journalist of 2023.
The new Toyota GR86 Automatic was selected for the automotive media campaign, while last year’s GR Yaris race cars, which mail and guardian the motorsport editor Lerato Matebese competed, they were given to the young graduates of the Toyota Karting Academy. Our GR 86 cars have been fitted with Dunlop Direzza 03G semi-slicks, large Powerbrake four-piston brakes up front, direct exhaust and a partially bare interior where a roll cage has been bolted on. Both standard seats were exchanged for comfortable OMP Sport Sport Seats.
Pre-season testing and familiarization with the car took place on the Monday before the race weekend, where my goal for the day was to overlay my simulated racing experience with the real world.
My lap times in the official practice sessions for the race on Friday suggested the connection clicked and I found myself with the second fastest times behind Thomas Falkiner, who replaced Droppa in this race. The skies opened up and turned the circuit into a skating rink, but the GR86’s relatively light weight, low center of gravity, and rear-wheel drive balance created a communicative, intuitive, and predictable racing platform.
Ominous clouds hung over Zwartkops on Saturday but brought no rain. I improved my best practice lap time by seven tenths to 01:14.6, just 0.4 seconds below the purple lap from the day before.
I made one more attempt to improve that time, but ended up overloading the car. The timing sheets showed that Falkiner had shaved another three-tenths off his practice time with a pole lap of 01:13.9, putting me 0.7sec behind and second on the starting grid.
A harrowing wait for the first race to start only made the nerves worse.
Falkiner began his charge into the distance. Staniforth filled my mirrors for three laps and forced a mistake that caused me to brake too late and hit the gravel at turn five. I closed the gate at right-hander six before Staniforth had any idea. He made a head mistake in the last corner. This took the pressure off and I cruised down to second place.
The second race greeted me with a much clearer head and much more confidence. I spent most of the lap watching a battle between Jones and Staniforth in my mirrors. I crossed the finish line, cementing my double second place on the podium.
It was a fantastic outing. I will be flying the South African Automobile Media Association flag high at the second round of the GR Cup at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town this weekend.