TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA is set to start the 2021 motorsport season with the opening round of the Global Touring Car (GTC) championship at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town this weekend. With the 2020 season stifled by die COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes will be on this first race, as the 2021 championship features not only the latest versions of all the race cars, but also an innovative new format.

The new format will see two races over the course of the race meet as before, with the first race consisting of 12 laps as usual. The second race, however, will be contested over a period of 30 minutes, with a final lap added at the end of the period.

“This will require a fair bit of strategy, and looking after your tyres during a race weekend will become paramount,” says TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s Michael van Rooyen, who finished as runner-up in the 2019 GTC season. “But we’ve historically done well at Killarney, and I’m very keen to get going with the season.”

Van Rooyen will again be partnered by Mandla Mdakane in a second Toyota Corolla for 2021. With very few races taking place during 2020, the team focused on the preparation for the upcoming season, and they made the most of the limited track time available to them.

“I had quite a bit of bad luck during the few races we had last year, but I’m feeling positive and well-prepared for the upcoming season,” says Mdakane. “I’ve always enjoyed racing at Killarney, and the new 30 minute race is sure to shake things up. My key challenge, however, will be to get used to the car on that circuit. With that said, my last pole position was at Killarney, so I’m hoping for another good weekend there.”

With very limited racing during 2020, the teams had no opportunity to gauge their performance against one another, and the first race at Killarney is sure to bring some indication of what we can expect for the rest of the season.

The weekend will see a multitude of racing formulas in action, with warm-ups and qualifying starting on Friday, 19 March. The main races will all take place on Saturday, 20 March.