Formula Ford Championship - Round 1, AA Kyalami, Midrand -- 28 February.
The opening round of the Vodacom Power Tour at AA Kyalami on 28 February marks a new beginning for the South African Formula Ford championship with a new face in charge of the administration and a host of new drivers contesting the series.
Long serving Formula Ford Association chairman Nino Venturi has resigned his post after over 20 years at the helm, to be replaced by the existing Association committee headed by vice chairman Allen Meyer, who now takes over the chairmanship.
The series enters its 37th year as a racing category this season, and the fifth year since the introduction of the Ford Zetec engine.
This season also marks the entry of Ford Credit as a sponsor to the category for the first time, with the company co-sponsoring the category's development programme with Ford South Africa.
Last season saw Formula Ford show an increase in the number of competitors, and it is expected that further growth in the size of the grid will be shown this year. Fifteen cars are expected to line up on the grid for the opening round at AA Kyalami.
Predicting the on-track action and winners is always virtually impossible due to the competitive nature of the racing, but with double champion Morne Jurgens moving onto pastures new, the field is more open than for many a year.
Recently crowned World Max Challenge Karting Champion, Christiano Morgado (Mygale), will start the season as one of the hot favourites. His drive to victory in the Max Challenge final in Egypt earlier this year was spectacular and showed that the youngster, in addition to his natural speed, has a cool and intelligent head on his shoulders.
Of the locals, Armani Jamrozinski (Diesel Van Diemen) will start as one of the favourites following his strong end to last season that saw him taking three wins in the last four races. He is wanting to race in England this year, so it is unsure as to how many races he will contest locally, but he will be one of the favourites to win this weekend.
Reigning Formula Vee Champion David Veringa (SABAT Mygale) will also be a strong contender for victory after his Formula Vee successes and a strong Formula Ford debut in the final race of last season. He has completed a large amount of testing in the lead up to the first race, so should be bang on the pace from the word go.
A concerted campaign to attract foreign drivers to compete in the series has paid dividends with Englishman Ian Parsons (Van Diemen) and Scotsman Craig Allen (Van Diemen) taking to the grid this season. Parsons finished second in the World Max Challenge Karting series last year, while Allen has competed in European Karting and will make his car racing debut this year.
Martin Robinson (Mygale) is also one to watch, although the loss of his major sponsor just a few weeks ago was a blow to his chances. It may curtail his campaign to just the Gauteng races if he can't find a replacement backer. He scored his first victory in the series in 2002, and came close to repeating the feat last season on a few occasions so will be a definite threat. He will be on the grid at Kyalami and will be determined to score a win in order to impress potential sponsors.
Paulo da Cunha (Van Diemen) could also spring a surprise this year. In his debut season last year he came on strongly in the latter races and, if his car is given the attention it deserves, he could be a regular front runner and dark horse for the championship.
Strong dices throughout the field should be the norm as had been the case in the past few seasons. Predicting the final placings may be difficult, but one this is for sure: both Formula Ford races will produce racing of the highest calibre.