TOP ENTERTAINMENT AT WESBANK SUPER SERIES AT KYALAMI
With one exception championship issues are still finely balanced and this should lead to some top entertainment and the possibility of high drama at round five of the WesBank Super Series at Kyalami on Saturday (June 27).
The Kyalami meeting also represents the halfway mark in the season and, for the most part, clear cut championship contenders have emerged in the various car and motorcycle classes. There are still one or two drivers and riders, considered prime championship material at the start of the season, who are under achievers and it is around this time of the season that their plight becomes desperate.
The race programme features a full house of national championship categories with WesBank V8 Supercars, Bridgestone Production Cars, Engen VW Cup and Formula Volkswagen catering for saloon car and singleseater enthusiasts. The programme is rounded out with the Interfile SA Superbike and Interfile SA Supersport brigades again waiting in the wings to steal the show.
The action will get underway on Friday with timed practice sessions for all categories. Qualifying will be run on Saturday morning with 15 minutes allocated to each category.
Gate entry at Kyalami is R50 per adult with children under 12 free.
WesBank V8 Supercars
Marc Auby, in the ELT International, continues to lead the WesBank V8 Supercar series with a comfortable 25 point lead over teenage brother Brandon in a second ELT Jaguar.
The Auby's, however, are probably a little concerned by the fact that triple champion Hennie Groenewald (Timken Holden Commodore) got his season back on track with a pair of wins last time out at East London. It was Groenewald's first trip to the winner's enclosure since the opening race of the season, and rocketed him into third place in the championship.
Groenewald is still a whopping 40 points behind the elder Auby, but will be in a far happier frame of mind. Two more good results at Kyalami would set the cat among the pigeons.
One other factor that could also be worrying the Auby clan, with dad Deon fifth in the standings in the ELT Holden, is the pace shown by Mackie Adlem since his return to racing. Adlem has quickly found his rhythm and will be a major contender for race wins.
Only 10 points separate Groenewald from Jaco Correia (Liqui Moly Chev Corvette), the elder Auby, Danie Correia in a second Liqui Moly Corvette and Franco di Matteo in the Varta Batteries Jaguar. That points to some hectic midfield duels with the action not confined only to the front of the field.
With championship issues now at breaking point the WesBank system of a reverse grid for race two simply adds to the likelihood of high drama. Wins are important for the likes of the Auby's, Groenewald and Adlem and dealing with the heat two traffic, adds to the pressure and provides a platform for more action. Bridgestone Production Cars
Former champion Anthony Taylor continues to keep the rest of the Class A pack at bay in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship.
The experienced Taylor, in the Afrox BMW 330i, has been a model of consistency this season and has gradually eked out a 16 point advantage over reigning champion Johan Fourie (Indy Oil Audi A4). Another former champion, Leeroy Poulter, in the SAM Racing/GP Windscreens Nissan 350Z, is only a point behind Fourie with the scene again set for some muscular racing.
Taylor will again be looking to Robert Wolk, in the second Afrox BMW, to ride shotgun and run a little interference. The danger man could be Melvill Priest (VMP Racing Audi A4) who bristled with aggression on his way to a race two win in East London.
Priest invariably goes well at Kyalami and will be full of confidence after his impressive race two performance at the daunting east London GP circuit. Poulter will also fancy his chances and Marco da Cunha, in the SAM Racing/Tubular Nissan 350Z, came up with a strong performance in East London.
Michael Stephen and another former champion, Shaun Watson-Smith, will be looking for a change of fortunes in the two Xtreme Team Audi A4 entries. Watson-Smith has been plagued by a wrist injury, and mechanical gremlins have also not helped the pair.
Dawie Olivier (Sasol Subaru STi) has a 100 percent finish record this season but has not threatened a win.
On recent form the Class T battle will again be a straight fight between current championship leader Graeme Nathan (Indy Oil/Kaye Eddie VW Golf GTi) and Gary Formato in the Ford Racing/Nando's Ford Focus. And, on recent performance, the odds would tend to favour Formato.
The multiple SA champion has reeled off four wins in a row to close the gap between the pair to just 10 points. Nathan is a street fighter and will come out with guns blazing in what is sure to be an interesting cameo performance.
On the Class B front Kosie Swanepoel (Barnett's Toyota RunX) has had it all his own way this season with Gary Green (Green Auto Alfa Romeo) his closest challenger.
Engen VW Cup
Once again the Engen VW Cup is developing into a close contest.
Only five points separate Mathew Hodges (PG Glass VW Polo) and young Devin Robertson (Champion VW Polo) at the top of the championship standings. Only 10 points separate the next three drivers, Gennaro Bonafede (Champion VW Polo) and Xtreme Team VW Polo team-mates Kosie Weyers and Miguel Pasqualli, and Kyalami is again likely to produce a pair of hard fought races.
After missing the last outing in East London reigning champion Jared Mortimer (Formsfit/Liquid Lounge VW Polo) has a little ground to make up. Kieran Quarmby (Gallardo VW Polo) and Bryan Morgan (Timken VW Polo) are in the same boat while Robyn Kruger (Steamsure VW Polo) will be looking to continue her recent run of good form.
Consistency is keeping Jayde Kruger, in the Motul/First Freight FVW), at the top of the Formula Volkswagen standings.
Kruger hasn't won since picking up a double on the opening day of the season but, like Anthony Taylor in the Bridgestone Production Car category, has eked out a 13 point advantage over Wesleigh Orr (Bravo FVW) who was a winner last time out in East London where he shared wins with Jimmy Auby in the Crystal Pier Logistics FVW. Next up are Gordon Connelly (Bravo Cowan Signs FVW) and Cristiano Morgado (City of Durban FVW) who are locked together five points behind Orr.
Accidents and mechanical failures all combined to produce two interesting heats in East London. Auby's maiden victory marks him as a future winner and there were good results from Tschops Sipuka (Southern Sun/Oakley FVW) and Tasmin Pepper (PG Glass/VW Racing FVW) who quietly and unobtrusively is starting to challenge the frontrunners.
There are now half a dozen drivers capable of winning and it appears there is a little needle creeping into the series. That could spark a pair of interesting Kyalami races.
Interfile SA Superbikes
The Interfile SA Superbike brigade look set to again steal the show.
It does not need much to spark the Superbike fellows into producing hugely competitive and entertaining racing. There is a competitive streak in the nature of motorcycle racers, but when you add to the mix an interesting championship situation and personal rivalry you have a potentially explosive situation on your hands. Two runaway victories for veteran Lance Isaacs, on the Portable Shade Honda, in East London lifted him into third in the championships and there are now only 19 points between the Cape rider and championship leaders Sheridan Morais and Clinton Seller.
Morais (Emtek Racing Kawasaki) and Seller (Badger Yamaha), along with the rest of the field, had no answer to the grip Isaacs planted on proceedings in East London. Whether the Honda will be as dominant on the more technical Kyalami layout is open to debate.
After a somewhat shaky start Morais has settled into a rhythm and it is Seller, the early pace setter, who has gone a little off the boil. Seller is, however, fiercely competitive and the battle up front will be one to relish.
Also in the picture are veteran Shawn Whyte, who leads the Masters category, and Yamaha team-mate Chris Leeson. Greg Gildenhuys, on the Race Nation Honda, is also threatening a win and Robert Portman, on the second Emtek Kawasaki, has yet to produce his best form.
Interfile SA Supersport
The Interfile Supersport championship is the one series where bookies would probably already be displaying the "no more bets" sign.
Eight wins in eight starts have given Sheridan Morais (Emtek Racing Kawasaki) a huge lead over Dylan White on the White Aluminium Yamaha. Morais is looking to become the first rider to win both the Superbike and Supersport championships in one season -- and has his foot firmly in the Supersport door.
Behind Morais a horde of talented young riders will fight it out with flying instructor Jacques Peskens (Portable Shade Honda) now on White's tail in the championship. Only two points separate Steven Odendaal (Mitsubishi Electric Suzuki) and Eddy Alberts (Race Nation Honda), and James Egan (Timefreight Honda) and Ronan Quarmby (Interfile Yamaha) are also in a mix that promises some superb racing from some highly talented youngsters.