Pillay, Amlay make their mark

Winner of the inaugural programme, Jonathan Mogotsi, is a race winner.

Volkswagen Motorsport announced their two 2018 Driver Search Programme finalists at the Zwartkops Raceway
on Saturday evening.

After five gruelling days of both physical and mental testing, youngsters Bryce Pillay and Shaheen Amlay were invited to step up to the plate in the real motorsport world.

“Motorsport is an integral part of what we do,” commented Andile Dlamini, General Manager of Group Communications for Volkswagen South Africa.

“It is of vital importance to nurture the current talent but also to unearth new talent in order for the sport to survive and thrive. “For those reasons we will continue to support motorsport with initiatives such as the Driver Search Programme,” he added.

Now in its third season, the Driver Search Programme is certainly bearing fruit. Winner of the inaugural programme, Jonathan Mogotsi, is a race winner and regular front-runner in the hugely competitive Engen Volkswagen Cup.

Last Saturday he moved into second position on the overall 2018 championship standings after another successful outing at Zwartkops.

Zwartkops Raceway played host to the entire 2018 edition of the programme, with 16 hopefuls subjected to car control tests until the top eight were selected two days later.

Another full day of driving tests saw the top four emerge.

These four youngsters were then thrown into the deep end by completing a full race weekend in front of a live crowd as part of last Saturday’s Sasol Race Day.

The weekend consisted of practice sessions, qualifying and two race simulations.

“We were looking for a number of attributes,” said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.

“Speed is obviously one, but we were also looking at their ability to learn, apply their new skill sets to the racetrack and to be consistent,” he added.

The final phase will consist of more testing before the overall winner will be announced.

“The prize for winning the Driver Search is huge as the winner will basically become a Volkswagen factory driver for at least a year with the possibility of continuing with us like Jonathan Mogotsi is doing,” concluded Rowe.

Volkswagen Motorsport took the opportunity to reflect on their involvement and successes in local circuit racing.

For more than two decades, the Volkswagen Cup has thrilled crowds across the country and with the new generation of Polo GTIs so evenly matched, it should continue to do so for a long time.

The Engen Polo Cup category has long provided a ladder of opportunity to local and international motorsport stars, with the Van der Linde brothers, Kelvin and Sheldon, and Jordan Pepper the most obvious examples.

Locally, Volkswagen Motorsport currently leads the Sasol GTC2 championship, with Keagan Masters in a works Golf GTI.

The GTI is the most popular car in the series for turbocharged, two-litre front-wheel driven cars, with six drivers contesting the championships in such Golf models.

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