After no less than five outings in three provinces the name of Devin Robertson still tops the standings of the very competitive 2017 Engen Volkswagen Cup. In fact, Robertson who currently sits on 107 points has a fairly comfortable 23-point advantage over nearest title rivals Clinton Bezuidenhout and Juan Gerber who are tied for second on 83 points. Behind the top 3, it’s a real tight affair with only 22 points separating the names of Jeffrey Kruger in fourth, and Tasmin Pepper in eighth, with Shaun La Réservée, Matthew Shorter and Justin Oates currently occupying fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
But the man causing the biggest upset of the season so far is 2016 Volkswagen Driver Search winner Jonathan Mogotsi who claimed an emphatic victory during the second heat of Round 5 in Port Elizabeth just less than a month ago. Mogotsi started the race from the second position on the grid but quickly made his way past and into the lead. What followed was one the best races in recent Engen Volkswagen Cup history with a full field of talented and more experienced drivers making their intentions very clear. But the young man kept his head and managed to fight off the tough challenge in an excellent display that contained both race craft and exceptional driving skills. “Perhaps it’s not such a big upset,” commented Mr. Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “Our purpose with the inaugural Volkswagen Driver Search last year was to find a raw talent which Volkswagen can then nurture, and that’s exactly what we did. We always knew that Jonathan is fast, but the rate at which he developed into a race winner even exceeded our own expectations. Our strategy is clearly working,” continued a very satisfied Rowe.
“It feels like I am still dreaming, but at the same time I am living my dream,” said an elated Mogotsi shortly after winning his first ever race. “I just want to thank Volkswagen for the opportunity and the faith they showed in me, so there’s nothing better than returning the favour with a win.”
That is all in the past now, but importantly for Volkswagen Motorsport, Mogotsi’s name now ranks alongside potential race winners in one of the most competitive series in the world of South African motorsport as the attention shifts to the Zwartkops Raceway to the west of Pretoria. Championship leader Robertson didn’t have a good outing in Port Elizabeth, but during the last visit to Zwartkops earlier this season he dominated by taking both victories and setting fastest laps in the process. So Robertson, who just returned from a very successful outing in India will be hard to beat on home soil, but in Bezuidenhout, Gerber, Kruger and La Réservée, he will have more than his hands full in an effort to fend off their respective onslaughts. And that’s not even mentioning more potential race winners like Matthew Shorter, the resurgent Oates twins Darren and Justin, and of course Mogotsi.
A number of talented rookies will now also be eager to make their mark and to follow in Mogotsi’s winning footsteps. This list include names such as Benjamin Habig, Daniel Duminy and Giordano Lupini.
“Racing is always extremely close at Zwartkops, so irrespective of who wins on the day, race fans will most certainly be entertained,” continued Rowe. “Zwartkops is also home to Volkswagen Advanced Driving, and the circuit will play host to the next Volkswagen Driver Search later this year where we hope to unearth yet another talent and future race winner. So we are looking forward to a successful weekend on 11 and 12 August.”