SCENE SET FOR DRAMA AT WESBANK SUPER SERIES OUTING AT ZWARTKOPS
Some interesting points positions add spice to a recipe already full of potential drama when the WesBank Super Series swings back into action at Zwartkops on Saturday (August 15).
The event is round six of the WesBank national series with everyone champing at the bit following a lengthy break after the last meeting at Kyalami in June. The tight Zwartkops layout also lends itself to close racing and that adds to expectations on a day that could turn out to be a highlight of the season.
One or two competitors -- notably Marc Auby and Sheridan Morais in the WesBank V8 Supercar and Interfile SA Superbike categories -- find themselves in a comfort zone. For the rest there are some hugely interesting situations, and boardroom dramas to be played out between now and race day could influence already fluid situations.
WesBank V8 Supercars
The big banger WesBank V8 Supercar championship is currently the preserve of the Auby family.
Sons Marc and teenager Brandon, both in ELT International Jaguars, and father Deon, in the ELT Holden, currently hold down the first three places in the championship. It is a unique situation in South African motorsport with a third Auby son, Jimmy, also a winner this season in the Formula Volkswagen championship.
The elder Auby has a 19 point lead over his brother who leads Dad by 12 points. A cause for concern for the championship leader is that he has not won since Killarney in May, and it is consistency that has kept him at the top of the table.
For three time champion Hennie Groenewald, lying fourth in the series in the Timken Jaguar, the point of no return is rapidly approaching. Groenewald trails Marc Auby by 40 points and he desperately needs a brace of wins at Zwartkops if he is going to stay in line for an unprecedented fourth title.
Groenewald is only a point clear of Danie Correia (Liqui Moly Chev Corvette) and five points clear of Franco di Matteo in the Varta Batteries Jaguar. Correia and di Matteo, along with Marc Auby, are the only drivers with 100 percent finish records this season.
As usual the WesBank reverse grid system for race two is going to play a major role on the day. The return of two old timers in one off appearances also adds a little extra interest.
Veterans Ben Morgenrood and Willie Hepburn, who is in mid 60s, will be out in Chev Lumina entries. They could surprise a couple of the youngsters -- particularly if they find themselves handily placed on the grid for race two.
Bridgestone Production Car Championship
Tight points positions and boardroom drama to be played out before race day provide the Bridgestone Production Car Championship with a little extra needle.
The Class A championship is highly interesting. Reigning champion Johan Fourie (Indy Oil Audi A4) currently leads former champion Anthony Taylor, in the Afrox BMW 330i, by a solitary point.
Taylor is 10 points clear of Leeroy Poulter (SAM Racing/GP Windscreens Nissan 350Z) who has two points in hand over Melvill Priest (VMP Audi A4) and five points in hand over Michael Stephen in the Xtreme Team Audi A4. It sets up a situation where Zwartkops will be no place for the faint of heart.
Adding to the intrigue is Dawie Olivier in the new Sasol Subaru. Olivier has been the man to beat at recent Big Z outings, but is fighting a decision to drop him to the back of the grid for race one following a Kyalami indiscretion.
Also fighting officialdom is Class T championship leader Graeme Nathan in the Indy Oil/Kaye Eddie VW Golf GTi. Nathan was excluded from the results of heat one at Kyalami and for a race two incident was suspended for two races.
It is a situation that could be exploited by multiple South African champion Gary Formato in the Ford Racing/Nando's Ford Focus. Provisional results after Kyalami had Formato trailing Nathan by 16 points but by the time the flag comes down on race two at Zwartkops all that could have changed.
Engen VW Cup
Tight championship situations are no stranger to the Engen VW Cup and this year is no different.
Only four points currently separate young Devin Robertson (Champion VW Polo) and Matthew Hodges in the PG Glass VW Polo. For his part Hodges is 16 points clear of Gennaro Bonafede, in the second Champion car, and then there is a logjam.
Kosie Weyers (Xtreme Team VW Polo) and Bryan Morgan (Team Timken Polo) are locked together in fourth place with Miguel Pasqualli a point in arrears in the second Extreme Team entry.
The frontrunners in the championship will all fancy their chances at Zwartkops but the likes of Kieran Quarmby (Interfile VW Polo) and Kyle Barnes (Conti/Diesel Power VW Polo) could come up with upsets. For Bonafede and the rest of the chasing pack the main mission will be to prevent Robertson and Hodges from further opening up the gap.
The championship issue in the Formula Volkswagen series is also highly interesting with just two points separating Jayde Kruger (First Freight/Motul FVW) and former Rotax Max kart world champion Wesleigh Orr in the Global Consulting/Bravo Holdings FVW.
Kruger has not won since a double triumph on the opening day of the season, and has gradually been closed down by the talented Orr. There is a 16 point gap between Orr and third placed Gordon Connelly (Cowan Signs/Bravo Holdings FVW) who finds himself at the front of a bunch of four drivers separated by four points.
Cristiano Morgado (City of Durban FVW), Tasmin Pepper (VW Racing/PG Glass FVW) and Simon Moss (Southern Sun/Oakley FVW) are on Connelly's tail with Jimmy Auby (Crystal Pier Logistics FVW) also in the mix. Pepper scored a maiden win at Kyalami last time out and is probably the most improved driver in the series.
It is a field full of talent and picking a winner is risky. Orr and Morgado will probably be installed as pre event favourites but Auby, Connelly and Kruger will have plenty of smart money riding on them.
Interfile SA Superbike Championship
Talented former champion Sheridan Morais is on track for a unique double and at Zwartkops could edge closer to writing his name in the record books.
A recent run of three wins and two seconds and a dip in form by early pacesetter Clinton Seller (BMG Yamaha) has taken Morais, on the Emtek Racing Kawasaki, to the top of the championship. Morais is also leading the Interfile Supersport championship with 10 wins from 10 starts and is on track to score a unique double by winning both championships in the same year.
Seller's dip in form has also coincided with two wins and three seconds from a resurgent Lance Isaacs, on the Portable Shade Honda, who now leads Seller by a single point in the championship. Morais is 42 points clear of Isaacs and the obvious aim for the Cape rider and Seller is to make sure the championship leader does not increase the gap.
Morais, Seller and Isaacs will all be in the mix at Zwartkops but there are dangermen aplenty. Arushen Moodley, on a second PS Honda, is running into form after a late start to the season, Greg Gildenhuys (Race Nation Honda) is threatening a win and the likes of the experienced Shaun Whyte (Team Yamaha), talented youngster Chris Leeson (Team Yamaha) and Robert Portman on the second Emtek Kawasaki are all capable of race wins.
Whyte has a handy lead over Gavin Ramsey (Race Nation Honda) in the Masters championship, and there are some talented youngsters like Nicolas Grobler (PS Honda) and Julian Odendaal (Mitsubishi Electric Suzuki) who will also be closely watched.
Interfile SA Supersport Championship
A simple statistic -- 10 wins from 10 starts -- says it all in the Interfile SA Supersport Championship where they can start writing the name of Sheridan Morais on the trophy.
Morais, on the Emtek Kawasaki, has been totally dominant this season and leads the championship by 84 points from Dylan White, on the White Aluminium Yamaha. It is the battle between White and a string of other talented young riders that will hold the attention at Zwartkops.
Jacques Peskens (PS Honda), Eddy Alberts (Race Nation Honda), Steven Odendaal (Mitsubishi Electric Suzuki), James Egan (PS Honda), Graham Green (Leatt/Race Nation Honda) and Ronan Quarmby (Gallardo/Interfile Yamaha) are as talented a bunch of youngsters as you will find anywhere. Consistency has kept White at the front of the bunch and the race behind Morais will be interesting.