Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria.
The dreams of 8 young prospective racing drivers stay alive while it’s game over for the other 6 who didn’t make the cut after the first round of the 2017 Volkswagen Driver Search was completed at the Zwartkops Raceway to the west of Pretoria. “It’s been a tough two days for the 14 candidates who were selected to compete in this year’s event,” said Mr. Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport shortly after announcing the names of the 8 who will go through to the next round of testing. “We most certainly threw them into the deep end, but then again, the reward is massive so we want to make sure we get the right man for the job.”
Rowe is quite right in saying that winning the Driver Search is a life-changing event. 2016 winner Jonathan Mogotsi’s racing experience prior to last year’s event was limited to gaming. “Volkswagen is all about people. With that in mind, this programme was designed to unearth raw driving talent and with Jonathan we certainly managed to do that,” Rowe continued. The prize for winning the event was a full factory-drive with Volkswagen Motorsport in the Engen Volkswagen Cup. “It is the most competitive racing series on the circuit where nearly 20 cars are often separated by less than a second. In this company, Jonathan has developed into a real racing driver and has even claimed a maiden victory in his first year.”
The winner of the current programme could potentially end up as Mogotsi’s teammate for the 2018 season. “He will first have to beat the other seven finalists over the next two days and hopefully impress the judges in the process,” continued Rowe. The 14 hopefuls were put through a number of challenges over the first two days of the event that included a series of fitness tests concluded at the University of Pretoria’s High-Performance Sports Centre, as well as the first taste of competitive driving at the Zwartkops Raceway to the west of Pretoria. The programme also consists of other racing-related elements such as lectures on media and sponsorship, sport psychology, and the theory of driving.
“Over the next two days, the focus will be more on their driving skills. Essentially, we are looking for a person who can ultimately become a racing driver,” concluded Rowe. At the end of the initial four days of the 2017 Driver Search, Volkswagen will end up with two finalists who will then join forces in a 3-hour endurance race in Port Elizabeth in November. The overall winner will be announced a week later at the final race meeting of the year scheduled at Zwartkops on the 25th of November.
The names of the 8 finalists moving onto the next phase are: Raais Asmal, Terrence Khalo, Sudev Singh, Prince Ndiweni, Austin Zungu, Moses Mahlangu, Talha Moosajee, and Keshave Erriah.
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) September 26, 2017