Home / Social media / News / The first round of the 2024 GR Cup recently kicked off at Killarney International Circuit - and it rocked.


Toyota South Africa’s single-make race series, the Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Cup, enters its third year of competition this year, and the 2024 race season looks set to be an action-packed endeavour. The basic premise was to put local motoring journos into a fleet of GR Yaris cars and ship them around SA to race at all the most popular tracks as part of bigger race events. The cars are pretty much standard with just the safety improved by way of a series-approved roll cage and a race seat. The inaugural GR Cup was made up of a field of GR Yaris cars, the second season was made up of new GR 86 cars and for this year, the lucky journos were outfitted with a fleet of the new GR Corollas. Cars from previous years are also still seen on track in different classes and support races. For the 2024 race season, the powers that be invited six members of the media to compete over seven rounds, with the first race of the season taking place at Cape Town’s Killarney International Circuit. Excitement was high as the 2024 GR Cup, driven by Netstar, kicked off last weekend. The action-packed weekend commenced with practice sessions on Friday, setting the stage for an adrenaline-fueled showdown on the track. Saturday morning saw the drivers tackle the qualifying session under unexpected (or being in Cape Town, a little expected) rainy conditions, adding an extra layer of challenge to the mix. AutoTrader's Sean Nurse, who is a returning driver after being part of the first running of the series in the GR Yaris cars, emerged as the fastest qualifier, narrowly edging out La't Wiel's Hannes Visser by a mere 0.317 seconds, setting the stage for what would be an epic showdown. As Race 1 unfolded, the track had dried out nicely allowing for some rather impressive lap times and intense battles for position. Nurse showed his track experience dominated the proceedings from start to finish, fending off relentless pressure from Visser. While behind them, CAR Magazine's Alex Shahini showcased his on-track skills, securing a podium finish despite the fiercest of competition. The race witnessed a series of exciting exchanges among the midfield drivers, with positions constantly shifting until the checkered flag waved.

Race 2 saw Nurse and Visser once again reprising their hard-fought front-row positions, with Nurse again leading the charge. Setting his best lap time of the weekend, Nurse cemented his dominance, but Visser did put up a valiant effort to secure a second-place finish. Behind them, newbie Shahini managed to maintain his composure to secure the last podium spot, demonstrating consistent performance throughout the weekend. For Driven's Bernie Hellberg and The Citizen's Jaco van der Merwe, Race 2 posed its own set of challenges, with Hellberg edging past Van der Merwe in a great battle for fourth place. Despite the ups and downs, all drivers displayed remarkable resilience and sportsmanship, with birthday boy Kumbi Mtshakazi from Kumbi on Cars reflecting positively on his debut outing. "I've learnt so much from this weekend, and while the wet qualifying session was a bit of a spanner in the works, I really enjoyed every moment. Now, I'm looking forward to the next round!" recounts Mtshakazi. The GR 86 Development Academy was also seen in action. Setshaba Mashigo, the reigning champion of the 2023 GR Cup, returned as a member of the esteemed GR86 Development Academy. He was joined by five other driver candidates, facing stiff competition from seasoned ex-karters in a brilliant battle on the tarmac. Leading the charge was Dawie van der Merwe who transitioned from the PoloCup and used his experience to dominate the class for the weekend by clinching pole position and securing victory in both races. With van der Merwe setting the pace, Mashigo focused on securing the 'best-of-the-rest' title, showcasing his trademark determination. Qualifying saw Mashigo securing the third-fastest time, trailing van der Merwe by just 1.24 seconds, with Niko Zafiris narrowly edging him out by a mere 0.002 seconds. The three ended Race 1 in the same order. Race 2 saw Mashigo making impressive moves, overtaking both Zafiris and Ryan Naicker to secure second place, with van der Merwe remaining out of reach. Engaging in a thrilling battle with Zafiris, Mashigo showcased his skill and determination, ultimately clinching third and second place in the opening round of the season.

Take a look at the YouTube video from the chaps at 2WheelsTV who covered the full round of the racing that took place at Killarney International Raceway. Many series raced on the day, including GR Cup, which you can see if you FFW to around an hour and half in: 2024 National Extreme Festival - Round 1 | 2WheelsTV

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