Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Avoiding contact in front of Toyota boss pays dividends in GR Cup

Getting elbows out in front of the man that signs the cheques not the best of ideas.

My colleague and accomplished racing driver Mark Jones two years ago wrote that the worse thing you can possibly do in a Toyota GR Cup race is to crash your Toyota into the Toyota boss. Which he unfortunately didn’t manage to avoid.

Last Saturday there was a slight alteration to a script that came agonisingly close to being repeated during round three of the 2024 Toyota GR Cup at Zwartkops Raceway. While the big boss was not competing on the track this time, another boss that signs this racing series’ cheques was watching the action from the patio of the Gazoo Racing headquarters overlooking turn five and six.

At as things turn out, this is exactly where the … let’s just say kitty litter, almost hit the fan during race one of the Toyota GR Corolla shootout between six members of the motoring media.

ALSO READ: From wooden spoon to runner-up in Toyota GR Cup (VIDEO)

GR Cup thrills and spills

TV man Hannes Visser (La’t Wiel), that started behind The Citizen Motoring in fourth on the grid, decided to go for broke dive bomb me on the inside of turn five on the penultimate lap. It’s a 90-degree right turn which requires some hard braking at the top of the hill. After passing the GR HQ on the left, a 90-degree follows to lead you down the hill again.

During the split second I started turning into turn five, Visser came flying up the inside. Realising that he’ll outbrake himself through the turn, I braked harder than usual and delayed my turn. He went flying straight through the corner and into the kitty litter. Right in front of the Toyota boss.

ALSO READ: Toyota GR Cup opener proves to be a steep learning curve

Very surprised that I managed to escape in one piece driving out of a cloud of dust, I held on for third place behind Sean Nurse (AutoTrader) and Alex Shahini (Carmag). Behind me was Kumbi Mtshakazi (Kumbi-M on Cars), Visser and Bernie Hellberg (Driven).

The Citizen Motoring started race two third on the grid too, with Nurse and Shahini first and second again. After Shahini pipped me to third by 0.106 seconds for race one, he qualified 0.107 seconds faster than me for race two.

More argy bargy

The flying Visser got out the blocks in feisty fashion again and nudged me from behind early in the race, Guess where? Yip, in front of the GR HQ.

ALSO READ: The Citizen ready to burn rubber in the Toyota GR Cup again

I managed to keep my cool but a mis-shift on the next lap left the door open for him to take third from me where he stayed to finish behind Nurse and Shahini. I held on to fourth defending off Yarises off like a demon that helped keep the ever-improving Mtshakazi at bay, with Hellberg behind him.

Not only did we manage to stay out of trouble over at HQ, but we also consolidate out fourth place in the championship. Nurse leads on a perfect 42 points, followed by Shahini on 25. We managed to close the gap between Visser (20) and us (18) by just two points. A solid day by Mtshakazi (14) saw him overtake Hellberg (12).

Round four takes place at Aldo Scribante in Gqeberha on the last weekend in June.

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Motorsport Toyota Corolla Toyota gazoo racing