Chasing the podium one lap at a time

Team Greatsoft CMR's Bryan Morgan tops the log in the C class division as well overall leaderboard of Killarney Raceway's GTI Challenge.

As he whips his Team Greatsoft CMR Volkswagen Golf around a corner, covered in its bright sponsor stickers, tyres screeching as they just avoid the red and white barrier line, the hairs on his neck prick up in anticipation of a full-throttle burst of speed as he hits the open stretch of tarmac in front of him, only one thing lingers in his mind – the championship leaderboard and maintaining his winning streak.

This is the world Bryan Morgan, 29, left behind for two years but the yearning for the racetrack was too much and since returning to Killarney Raceway earlier this year, the GTI Challenge Class C and overall championship leader has not missed pole position.

Although drivers race in different divisions based on the power outputs of their vehicles, they all clamour alongside one another on the same track on race day, making for some interesting tactical manoeuvring.

Despite missing the first race of the year, losing out on valuable log points, Morgan has worked his way to the top of the pile as he raked in win after win.

“I started racing karts when I was seven years old and did well at regional and national championships, with my best finish at a national competition being third place. In 2005 I moved to the Polo Club divisions and in my first year of racing I won Rookie of the Year. I raced the series for around nine years and in that time a highlight for me was getting to race on the Nurburgring, in Germany.

“Two years ago I decided to take a breather and stopped racing while I focused on things like buying a house but eventually I just missed the competition and the thrill of racing so I decided to get back into it. I missed the first race of 2016 but was up and running by the time the second one came around, in April,” he said.

It’s been quite a comeback. Morgan went on to snap up fastest qualifying times in the three subsequent series meetings and won all six races, across the three meets.

His consistency earned him a stack of points that saw him rocket to top of the Class C leaderboard, with a 20-point lead after last weekend’s races.

He also tops the overall leaderboard with 14 points in hand. In essence, he could miss the next two races and still be topping the pile, but he doesn’t anticipate that happening any time soon.

However, with five races still left in the series for the year, and the competition champing at the bit, things are looking to heat up on the track.

“One of the funny things is that you actually get penalised each time you end in pole position.

“I have two bright pink weights in my car, 40kgs in total, because I have been winning my races. It’s meant to even out the playing field and give other drivers a chance, which makes sense.

“The minimum weight for the car, including the driver, is 950kgs. I’ve been driving with 990kgs, with the maximum 40kg penalty, since my first two pole positions.

“Initially we just planned to race in the Class C division but now we are actually looking at getting a car for the Class A races and if the right car comes along at the right price we will probably be racing there next year,” he said.

Along with his teammate, Jarred Simpson, the Greatsoft team has made a formidable impact on the track this year. According to Morgan, the Cape Town racing scene is in a good space and, if you look at how our drivers fair against European counterparts, we have top-level racers itching to make names for themselves.

“Talent-wise I’d say we are definitely on par with European drivers and when they travel down here we give them a good run for their money. We have a few national level drivers doing great things on the international racing scene as well so the sport is alive and well.

“We also have top-class engineers and technicians like the guys who get my car ready for each race, Maunder Racing Development. Brian Maunder is one of the best in the business and the prep he does with the cars shows on the track. They run a few cars in Class C, have two cars in Class A and one in Class B. He is basically the engineer for the top three guys in each class.

“Of course, it all starts with a driver getting involved as soon as they can. For kids this usually means getting involved with karting and if they are interested, I’d suggest coming down to the track and chatting to the karting teams and getting a feel for the cars. If they like it they can look at getting their own kart and start racing at regional championships.

“It’s never too late to get involved, though, and there are always different avenues for people to get involved with racing. It might not seem like it but racing is actually relatively inexpensive and there are lots of people out there who are willing to help,” he said.

For more information, visit the GTI Challenge website, or have a look at their Facebook page.