Volkswagen Motorsport in South Africa has unveiled its new Global Touring Cars (GTC) racing car, which is based on the Golf 8 GTI and generates in excess of 370 kW and 600 N.m.

Shown for the first time via livestream, the Golf 8 GTI GTC uses a highly tuned version of the Wolfsburg-based firm’s EA888 turbocharged 2,0-litre, four-cylinder engine, but driving the rear wheels.

The German firm’s local motorsport division will run two Golf 8 GTI race cars in GTC1 in the 2020 season. One will be driven by 2019 GTC champion Keagan Masters and the second by Daniel Rowe, who claimed the GTC2 title in 2016.

“For the past four years we have been racing with the Jetta. Since the Jetta is no longer offered in right-hand-drive markets, we had to find an appropriate successor and that is where the idea to use the Golf 8 GTI came from,” said Martina Biene, head of the Volkswagen brand in SA.

“Even though the Golf 8 GTI will only be officially launched and available from South African dealers in 2021, we wanted to use this opportunity to showcase the Golf 8 GTI’s performance attributes ahead of the local market introduction,” she added.

While it’s not yet clear exactly when the 2020 season will kick off, VW says it “hopes” motorsport events will be allowed to resume in August 2020, which would mean an opening round at Zwartkops Raceway in Johannesburg.

Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport SA, said the Golf 8 GTI racing car included “an all-new chrome moly tubular chassis, which is much stiffer and lighter than the previous generation GTC car”.

“Even with five manufactures competing in the GTC series, it is one of the most premier circuit racing series in Africa due to its competitive nature. It is a tough championship to win, so consistent scoring of points at every round is very important,” Rowe said.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we have not been permitted to race and as the Motorsport fraternity we are all hoping that by August, we can get the cars on the track, although it will most likely to be without any spectators,” he added.