TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s GR Cup, driven by Netstar, drew to a close at the Zwartkops International Raceway on Saturday, October 14th 2023. The Cup, which is contested by a number of the country’s foremost motoring writers, driving GR86 road cars, was decided over seven rounds, each featuring a qualifying session and two race heats. In the end, it was ASAMM’s Setshaba Mashigo who walked away with the overall laurels, though the final race weekend will be remembered as one where Auto Trader’s Chad Luckhoff made his mark.
Mashigo set the fastest time during the qualifying session, just 0.104 ahead of Luckhoff. Mark Jones (Citizen) followed 0.331 further back, with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing SA’s (TGRSA) Riaan Esterhuysen in fourth place. TimesLIVE’s Denis Droppa and Toyota SA Motors’ Glenn Crompton completed the lineup. Brendon Staniforth, one of the regular racers in the Cup, was forced to miss out on the final race weekend, after the Maroela Media representative fell ill and elected not to compete.
Race 1 saw high drama in the GR Cup’s sister league, where competitors race the GR Yaris in the same races as the motoring writers campaign their GR86 cars. This time, a massive shunt amongst the GR Yaris drivers, who start ahead of the GR86 drivers on the grid, caused mayhem. Unfortunately for Mashigo, he picked up a puncture when driving over some of the debris from the crash ahead of him, and decided to retire his GR86 after dropping down the order.
This allowed Luckhoff to pounce, and pounce he did. Going into the final race weekend, Luckhoff was locked into a fierce battle for second place in the Cup, with Droppa just one point ahead of him, and Jones tied with him on points. So, there was all to play for at Zwartkops, and Luckhoff made the most of the opportunity. He finished just ahead of Jones, who lead Droppa and Esterhuysen across the finish line. Mario de Sousa made a short-notice guest appearance, driving Staniforth’s car on the Saturday. He finished just ahead of Crompton, after a spirited drive from both of them.
With just one race standing between Luckhoff and second in the championship, the Auto Trader representative knew exactly what he had to do. But there was still a glimmer of glory for both Jones and Droppa, so the final race of the season was always going to be a tough one.
As it turned out, Luckhoff pushed hard to make the most of his final race of the year, winning the second race as well. Esterhuysen finished second, while Mashigo came in third, with Jones and De Sousa behind him; and Crompton rounding out the results. Droppa was side-lined after a Turn 2 incident, which forced him to retire from the race.
“We are very pleased with this year’s GR Cup,” said Crompton, who serves as Toyota SA Motors’ Vice-President for Marketing, during the prize-giving event following the final race. “Toyota is back in motorsport with a vengeance, and there is more to come in the future. With that said, the GR Cup has proven a highly successful formula, and we look forward to hosting it again in 2024.”
As an added bonus, the Top 4 in the 2023 GR Cup’s final standings – Mashigo; Luckhoff; Jones and Droppa – will be competing in the 9-Hour endurance race, which takes place in Cape Town at the end of the year.
FINAL STANDINGS: 2023 GR CUP
Setshaba Mashigo – 77
Chad Luckhoff – 50
Mark Jones – 44
Denis Droppa – 41
Brendon Staniforth – 34