Round three of the Engen Volkswagen Cup championship for 2016 will see the national field contest a second coastal round for the season – this time in Port Elizabeth. Keagan Masters (18 – Champion) will enter the fray in Port Elizabeth as the overall championship leader again.
The Port Elizabeth event takes place on Saturday, June 4, with the Engen Volkswagen Cup competitors facing a three-race event, their second in the format this season. Just the third round into the season and the battle lines have already been clearly drawn.
Masters has produced winning performances at both of the rounds this season, making him the man to beat after the opening rounds. The Aldo Scribante Raceway event will, like the season's first race meeting, offer three opportunities for Masters to extend his lead – or for his opponents to close the gap to that championship frontrunner.
The format this season means five races have already taken place, but only one racer has managed to claim the chequered flag twice. Trevor Bland (M2 – Universal Health Care/Phoenix) won once at Zwartkops and once in Cape Town. He is placed second in the Masters category behind Juan Gerber (M8 – Glasfit/Ctrack/XCT).
The successful race winners so far this year have been Bland, Masters, Shorter (who won the first race of the season) and Shaun La Reserveé (M3 – Alpine Motors / Compendium Insurance). The Port Elizabeth round will have everyone wondering which of these will add another victory to their tally – or might it be time for Matthew Shorter (11 – Champion) to make it up the finishing order. He's had a rough start to the season, but most recently finished in second place in race two at Killarney.
With that second place result, he could present an unexpected threat to the frontrunners, making the outcome at this third round of the season impossible to predict.
Bland is second in the Masters and third overall in the championship. With Masters leading, Chris Shorter (33 – Payen/Hollard/Turn1) holds the middle position on the overall leaderboard, currently on identical points to third-placed Bland but with a deficit of 11 points to Masters.
With 16 points for each race win, both Shorter and Bland can make significant in-roads to Masters' lead. It is also an opportunity for Masters to get even further ahead of his rivals – although the narrow layout of the short Scribante circuit means whichever of the competitors has the better qualifying session, and grid position draw amongst the top six qualifiers, is likely to produce the best results in Port Elizabeth.
Gerber, as the leading Master will have to fight to stay ahead of Bland when the pair meet for the Scribante event. There are just two points between them, so the fight will be fierce as they challenge for every single point possible. Then there is third-placed Master La Reserveé who needs just one good race day to make a significant difference to that nine point gap and really mix things up in the championship fight this season.
For the local motorsport supporters, the three races from the Engen Volkswagen Cup national championship field will provide a day of thrills and spills as this action-packed series contests round three of their eight-round championship.
With the latest update to the Volkswagen Polo TSI used throughout the Engen Volkswagen Cup field, the Scribante event is just the third time the racers in this national championship will be behind the wheel. That means they are still finding their feet with these newer, faster race cars, raising the potential for unexpected results even further.