Notes from a GR Cup rookie racing driver: raising the game at Kyalami

The Toyota GR Cup for motoring media has dished up an exciting season so far. Picture: Toyota SA.

The Toyota GR Cup for motoring media has dished up an exciting season so far. Picture: Toyota SA.

Published Apr 17, 2024


Motoring journalist Kumbi Mtshakazi reflects on his second round of the Toyota GR Cup baptism of fire:

After my intense and disappointing run at Killarney in Cape Town last month (read about that here), I was revved up to revitalise my game at Kyalami. After clocking in over 300 kilometres on Assetto Corsa, I was itching to put my skills to the test on South Africa’s most famous racetrack.

Sim racing might prepare you mentally, but nothing beats the rush of actual track action. Kyalami promised a new level of challenge with the addition of five dealer-driven Toyota GR Yaris' joining us on track.

Practice day kicked off on Thursday, and while I started strong with a couple of quick laps, a clutch failure forced me to cool my heels for the rest of the session. Lesson learned: pushing too hard too soon only burns rubber and breaks parts.

The afternoon turned into a hustle as the mechanics worked to swap out the clutch, ensuring I'd be geared and ready for race day.

Friday dawned with the scent of adrenaline for qualifying. We hit the track at the crack of dawn, hungry for speed. The competition was fierce as we gunned for those precious milliseconds.

Alex Shahini (Car Magazine) and Sean Nurse (Autotrader) were trading blows for the top spot, leaving myself, Jaco vd Merwe (Citizen) and Bernie Hellberg (TCB Media) to eat their dust. I locked down fourth place after some pointers from the Shahini and Nurse.

I held my ground in fourth, eyeing those GR Yaris' ahead like a predator sizing up its prey. But a slip-up on lap four let vd Merwe snatch my spot, reminding me that in this game, focus is key.

At the front, Hannes Visser (Laat Wiel) had a heart-stopping moment when his Power brakes failed at Crawthorne, a stark reminder of the razor's edge we dance on. The race was red-flagged, and I crossed the line in fifth, hungry for redemption in the second race.

Starting fourth, I knew I had to bring my A-game.

Nurse and Shahini were fighting it out up front, leaving me to tangle with the likes of Johann Snyman (Toyota Dealer) in his GR Yaris and vd Merwe in his GR Corolla. A brake failure on Shahini’s car caused him to crash into the tyre barriers at Crawthorne and I seized my chance, snagging third and my first podium in the GR Cup.

With five rounds still to go, I'm revved up and ready to roll.

Zwartkops, our home race, is next on the calendar, and you can bet your last dollar, I'll be there hungry for another podium.

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