WESBANK SUPER SERIES HEADS BACK TO THE COAST
It is back to the coast for round nine of the WesBank Super Series and the October 4 meeting at the Aldo Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth could have a bearing on the destiny of a couple of South African championships.
Topping the bill will be the thundering WesBank V8 Supercars with the Engen VW Cup, Formula VW and the CitiBike Superbike and Supersport categories providing the back-up. Sitting this meeting out will be the Bridgestone Production Cars who will return to action at Kyalami on October 25.
There are a couple of interesting championship issues that are bubbling away, and the Scribante outing will be important to those involved. On this score one of the closest is in the Formula VW category where just four points separate former Rotax Max kart world champions Gavin Cronje and Cristiano Morgado.
The tight Aldo Scribante layout always leads to close and interesting racing. It won't be any different this time around, and all the ingredients are there for a crackerjack day of highly competitive motor racing.
WesBank V8 Supercars Talented Hennie Groenewald (Team Timken Holden) has wrapped up his third successive WesBank V8 Supercar title, but behind him an interesting situation has developed.
Groenewald, the most successful WesBank series competitor of all time, has a huge 73 point lead over the consistent Mark Auby (Jonnesway Jaguar) and has a hat-trick of titles in the bag. That shifts interest to the scrap between Auby, veteran Willie Hepburn who, at the age of 65 continues to amaze, and Robert Briggs.
Only 13 points separate Auby, Hepburn and Briggs. Like Auby the ageless Hepburn, in the Project Orange Chev Corvette, has been a model of consistency and it is Briggs (Team Timken Jaguar) who has fallen on hard times recently.
Briggs has not won a race since East London back in June with a combination of mechanical niggles and race incidents seeing him gradually drop back in the title race. Briggs will be on a mission at Aldo Scribante and his battles with Auby and Hepburn will be loaded with interest.
There will also be a great deal of interest in young Brandon Auby (Masana Petroleum Jaguar) who at the age of 16 became the youngest ever WesBank winner at Zwartkops last time out. That puts him in the spotlight, particularly in race two when the WesBank inverted grid system comes into play.
Also in the picture here will be Richard Pinard (Team Timken Jaguar) who won at Aldo Scribante last time out, Deon Auby (Meta Forge Holden), Larry Wilford in the Fuchs Titan Ford Mustang and brothers Danie and Jaco Correia in the Liqui Moly Chev Corvettes. Franco di Matteo (Optima Batteries Jaguar) and the aggressive Roelf du Plessis (Venter Motors Lumina) could also get a look in.
With Groenewald able to drive for points rather than adding to the 10 wins he already has this season, the Timken squad could concentrate more on tactics that will help Briggs and Pinard in the championship.
Engen VW Cup
A situation akin to that in the WesBank V8 series has cropped up in the Engen VW Cup championship.
A terrific scrap is going on behind the championship leader with four drivers separated by just nine points, with two of them locked together in a tie. The only difference is that Engen VW Cup leader Gennaro Bonafede (Ferodo/Champion VW Polo) is not yet out of the woods in terms of the championship.
VW Cup veteran Miguel Pasqualli (Xtreme Team VW Polo) and Mathew Hodges (PG Glass VW Polo) are locked together 18 points behind Bonafede who in recent races has looked more intent on scoring points than winning races. Jared Mortimer (Emerald Casino VW Polo) is only six points behind Pasqualli and Hodges with Bryan Morgan (Team Timken VW Polo) a further three points off the pace. With those doing the chasing needing to make sure Bonafede does not get away from them, the scene is set for two hectic heats. For his part Bonafede must be starting to feel a little pressure.
Further down the championship ladder there will be no love lost between Grant Gatland (Mechanical Cooling/Daikin VW Polo), Raymond Johnston (CLS Logistics VW Polo), Divan Wentzel (Barnett's VW Polo) and Kieran Quarmby in the Gallardo IT VW Polo. Only 12 points separates the quartet and they will be fighting for every centimetre of circuit.
After starting the season like a house on fire talented Gavin Cronje (Jonah Capital FVW) has gone through a tricky patch and a substantial early season lead has been cut to just four points.
Breathing down Cronje's neck is Cristiano Morgado (Morgado Plant FVW) with the fact that they are both former Rotax Max kart world champions adding a little spice to the contest. Morgado has come on strongly in the last couple of outings, and Cronje needs to pull something out of the bag at Scribante.
A third former Rotax Max world champion in Wesleigh Orr (SAM Racing/Global FVW) will provide the main opposition, along with Formula Ford champion Jayde Kruger in the WAP Alto/Timefreight FVW). The Southern Sun/Terry Moss Racing pair of Lee Thompson and Michael Stephen also pose a threat with Stephen keen to do well on his home circuit.
With some highly talented young drivers all out to prove a point or two, both races could turn into tight affairs. For Cronje and Morgado the stakes are high and that sets up a hugely interesting confrontation.
CitiBike SA Superbikes
The decision by Sheridan Morais to race in Britain and give the recent Zwartkops outing a miss has breathed new life into the CitiBike SA Superbike championship.
Clinton Seller (Nashua Mobile/Daikin Yamaha) took the opportunity to bag a brace of wins. More important, however, the absence of Morais has enabled Seller to close the gap between the pair to 43 points.
The advantage is still with Morais (Emtek Racing Kawasaki) but Seller will feel that he has a realistic shot at taking another chunk out of the Morais lead. Throughout the season Seller has looked the one rider capable of consistently troubling Morais and will be fired up for an interesting clash.
Also all fired up will be reigning champion Arushen Moodley on the Dynamic Express Suzuki. Although he trails Morais by 89 points and Seller by 46, Moodley will be out on his home track and would love to give the home fans a win or two.
There is no doubt Moodley has the pace to beat both Morais and Seller and home town motivation might do the trick for him. The Morais, Seller and Moodley trio will start as favourites but a pair of youngsters in Chris Leeson, on the second Emtek Kawasaki, and Greg Gildenhuys (Race Nation Honda) could cause upsets.
Robert Portman, on the Sinotec Suzuki, is also due for a good result and for betting men would be worth a flutter. The likes of veteran Trevor Crookes (Mitsubishi Electric Suzuki) and Tertius de Lange and Brad Stark on the High Power Yamahas will resume their midfield battles with all three capable of breaking into the top five.
When Morais won 10 of the first 12 races it looked as though the championship was a foregone conclusion. That has changed slightly and for the first time this season there is a hint of pressure on the 2005 champion.
CitiBike SA Supersport
Teenager Dane Hellyer has already wrapped up the CitiBike Supersport championship but the category will still provide for plenty of action at Aldo Scribante.
Young Hellyer (Kyocera Kawasaki) won't rest on his laurels and his closest challengers will all want to prove point and beat the new champion. On that score there are a couple of dangermen where Hellyer is concerned.
Top of the list are a pair of veterans in Graeme van Breda (Springs Suzuki) and Lance Isaacs (Pretoria Noord Toyota Suzuki) who started the season in the Superbike ranks. Both have gone well in recent outings with van Breda now firmly entrenched in second place in the championship.
Behind van Breda only six points separate a trio of talented youngsters in Graeme Green (Leatt Brace Yamaha), Dylan White (White Aluminium Yamaha) and James Egan on the Timefreight/Daikin Yamaha. Green won last time out at Aldo Scribante and is more than capable of a repeat performance.
Teenager Steven Odendaal (Mitsubishi Electric Suzuki) could also spring a surprise and Jacques Peskens (Algoa Structures Honda) will be looking for a good result on his home circuit.