Volkswagen isn’t a stranger to race tracks. In civilian trim, the GTI hot hatch loves to be tossed around on track days and tight autocross courses. In the world of Africa’s Global Touring Cars (GTC) racing series, VW has successfully campaigned a racing version of the Jetta. Now, it’s the GTI’s turn for chequered-flag glory as the automaker’s newest GTC entry.
“For the past four years we have been racing with the Jetta,” said Martina Biene, head of Volkswagen brand in South Africa. “Since the Jetta is no longer offered in right-hand drive markets, we had to find an appropriate successor and that is where the idea to use the Golf 8 GTI came from. Even though the Golf 8 GTI will only be officially launched and available from South African dealers in 2021, we wanted to use this opportunity to showcase the Golf 8 GTI’s performance attributes ahead of the local market introduction.”
As the photos below suggest, the GTC version of the GTI isn’t exactly showroom stock. VW doesn’t offer full details on the racing conversion, but the car does get a chrome-moly tubular chassis. To comply with GTC rules, all vehicles must have a common chassis and running gear, as well as suspension and tires. As such, the series emphasises driver skill over the capability of the cars.
Gallery: Volkswagen GTI GTC Race Car
The debut of the race car is also meant as a preview for road-going GTIs. The hot hatchback will offer drivers 242 bhp (180 kW) turning the front wheels when it goes on sale next year. A hotter TCR version is also in the works, fitted with aero tweaks and making a reported 296 bhp (221 kW). At the top of the food chain is the Golf R, which is also expected to go on sale as a 2022 model and could have as much as 329 bhp (245 kW) turning all four wheels.
As for the GTC series, coronavirus has delayed the start of the 2020 season as it has for pretty much every racing venue this year. An official date for the first race hasn’t been confirmed, but rumours say it could happen in August.
Volkswagen Motorsport to defend GTC championship in the Golf 8 GTI
Volkswagen’s new Global Touring Cars (GTC) racing car, the new Golf 8 GTI, was unveiled at a virtual event
The Golf 8 GTI will be officially launched in South Africa in 2021
Johannesburg – Today, Volkswagen Motorsport unveiled its new Global Touring Cars (GTC) racing car through a virtual event which was streamed live on social media.
Volkswagen Motorsport’s new GTC racing car is built using the Golf 8 GTI body. “For the past four years we have been racing with the Jetta. Since the Jetta is no longer offered in right-hand drive markets, we had to find an appropriate successor and that is where the idea to use the Golf 8 GTI came from. Even though the Golf 8 GTI will only be officially launched and available from South African dealers in 2021, we wanted to use this opportunity to showcase the Golf 8 GTI’s performance attributes ahead of the local market introduction,” said Martina Biene, Head of the Volkswagen Brand.
Global Touring Cars (GTC), which launched in South Africa in 2016, is the premier motorsport championship in South Africa and includes the main GTC Championship (GTC1) as well as the second-tier class, GTC2.
Volkswagen Motorsport will compete in the two Golf 8 GTIs in GTC1. They will be driven by 2019 GTC champion Keagan Masters and Daniel Rowe, the 2016 GTC2 champion. Volkswagen Motorsport will also be represented in the SupaCup, which replaces GTC2, by 2016 Driver Search winner and 2017 Polo Cup Rookie winner, Jonathan Mogotsi. Mogotsi will be racing the SupaCup Polo, which is a newly developed car for the second tier class within the GTC Championship. The new car is an exciting addition to South African motorsport and produces over 200kW coupled to a locally developed 6-speed M-Trac Sequential Gearbox.
In the GTC series all vehicles have to adhere to strict control measures which feature a common chassis, running gear, a single ECU to control performance, tyres, suspension and other components.
“New features in the Golf 8 GTI racing car include an all-new chrome moly tubular chassis which is much stiffer and lighter than the previous generation GTC car,” said Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.
“Even with five manufactures competing in the GTC series, it is one of the most premier circuit racing series in Africa due to its competitive nature. It is a tough championship to win, so consistent scoring of points at every round is very important,” added Rowe.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have not been permitted to race and as the Motorsport fraternity we are all hoping that by August, we can get the cars on the track, although it will most likely to be without any spectators,” concluded Rowe.
The start of the official 2020 South African Motorsport circuit racing season is still unconfirmed, but it is hoped that motorsport events can resume in August 2020 and the first round will likely start at Zwartkops Raceway in Johannesburg.