The Autumn Nationals meeting at AA Kyalami on Saturday, presented by Vodacom, could be a watershed weekend for many competitors with title aspirations. The season is now at a stage where some championship hopefuls have got their campaigns off...
The Autumn Nationals meeting at AA Kyalami on Saturday, presented by Vodacom, could be a watershed weekend for many competitors with title aspirations.
The season is now at a stage where some championship hopefuls have got their campaigns off to promising starts, while others have lost early ground. For competitors who fall into both categories the AA Kyalami outing offers opportunities for either consolidation or recovery.
For motorsport enthusiast the Autumn National outing offers a little of everything. On the saloon car front there will be plenty of action sand variety from Bankfin Touring Cars, the Wesbank V8 Challenge and the Midas Group N contingent.
The Sasol Formula Ford brigade and Vodacom Sports Prototype provide for singleseater and sports car action, with the Telkom Supersport Motorcycles always a crowd-pleaser. The action gets underway on Thursday with open practice for all categories.
Friday sees official practice and qualifying sessions for Bankfin Touring Cars, Vodacom Sports Prototype, the Wesbank V8 Challenge and Group N. There will be Saturday qualifying for Sasol Formula Ford and Telkom Supersport Motorcycles with the first race scheduled to start at 09h45.
For the third year in a row gate entry prices at AA Kyalami have remained unchanged at RE30 per adult with children under 16 free. Pre booking is available at Computicket, and AA members can buy tickets at R25 per adult.
STRONG BANKFIN TOURING CAR ENTRY
The Bankfin Touring Car Championship returns to AA Kyalami for rounds seven and eight of the 2000 series boosted by a number of new competitors who made their BTCC debut at Phakisa Freeway a fortnight ago.
The Free State rounds of the series saw a record entry of 20 cars in the Touring Car and budget Procar categories. At the top of the Touring Car championship table, however, not a lot has changed.
After six rounds of the 20-race series reigning champion Giniel de Villiers in the factory BP Nissan Dealer Team Primera looks to be well on the way to a record fourth successive title. De Villiers has won four races of the six aces run this season - including a convincing victory in round six in Welkom, and is 19 points clear Petronas Opel driver Shaun Watson-Smith.
Terry Moss, at 42 the oldest competitor in the championship, is third on 48 points after his unexpected win in the works Engen Audi A4 in round five. British driver Mark Peters picked up second places in both rounds at Phakisa and is fourth in the championship.
Although de Villiers has a handy championship lead the Nissan squad cannot afford to sit back. There have been three different winners in the first six races, and qualifying times of the leading works touring cars have been more than close.
At Phakisa, where Shaun van der Linde took both pole positions in the works BMW 318I, the first eight cars on the grid in each race were covered by just eight tenths of a second. The trend is likely to continue at AA Kyalami and this sets up two highly interesting races.
The budget Procar category for privateers has never looked healthier. Reigning champion George Bezuidenhout (BP Nissan Dealer Team Primera) currently leads the Procar Challenge with 72 points.
Bezuidenhout is closely followed by Colin Hastie (Spanjaard Netstar Nissan Primera) with 67 points. Marco da Cunha in the second BP Nissan Dealer Team Primera is third with 59 points and will be full of confidence after his first Procar win in Welkom.
Brian Martin makes up the regular Procar entry in his Caltex Havoline Toyota Corolla with former national saloon car champion Richard Sorensen expected to give the Safeline BMW 320i its BTCC debut this weekend. Will make his first AA Kyalami appearance in the ex Bezuidenhout Nissan Sentra and other expected to bolster the field this weekend include Bevin Masters (VW Polo), Luigi Serro (VW Golf), Mike McGregor (VW Golf) and Owen Roberts (VW Golf).
SCORES TO BE SETTLED IN MIDAS GROUP N
There will be a few scores to be settled in rounds seven and eight of the Midas Group N Championship.
Topping the entry list in Class A will be Kaye-Eddie BMW 328i drivers Reghardt Roets and Steve Wyndham. Team-mates Roets and Wyndham have been given free reign to fight the Class A title, and they have responded with some superb battles.
The best racing of the day, however, is likely to come from the Class B contingent. Martin Steyn (Team Total Honda) currently has a one point lead over reigning champion Charl Wilken, in the Castrol Toyota Corolla RSi, and this is a battle to be watched with other Honda drivers and Wilken's teammate, Mark Cronje (Total Toyota Corolla RSi) also having star roles to play.
There is no love lost between the Honda and Toyota camps and this has led to cut-throat racing. It won't be any different on Saturday.
There is a volatile situation in Class D. Leading the Opel onslaught will be Delta Parts Corsa pair Stephen Taylor and LeeRoy Poulter with the recent Phakisa outing featuring a little argy bargy. Grant Fletcher will out in the Petronas Opel Corsa with the Opel trio up against the Honda Ballades of Delon Williams and Fanie de Bruin.
Class E has drawn an entry of 13 cars with James Menin (Auto Bonn Opel Corsa) currently leading the championship. Menin can expect tough competition from the likes of Opel contingent Douglas Reekie, Cor Kraamwinkel, Greg Wilford and Bert Grogor.
The Total Toyota Tazz pair of Miguel Pasqualli and Etienne du Toit will also challenge for podium places. In the first AA Kyalami outing of the season the Toyotas were dominant and they will be looking for repeat performances.
YOUNG LIONS VERSUS VETERAN MAESTRO IN WESBANK V8 CHALLENGE
A long awaited clash between reigning Wesbank V8 champion Gary Formato (Pennzoil Mustang), multiple SA champion Etienne van der Linde (Mustang) and veteran maestro Sarel van der Merwe in the Wesbank V8 Challenge.
Formato is after a hat-trick of championships but leads this year's series by just 12 points from van der Merwe in the Sasol Mustang. The 21-year-old van der Linde picked up a win last time out in East London and the battle between the young guns and the wily Supervan is one to be savoured.
The Formato camp will be out in a new Nick Jooste built Pennzoil Mustang while the Sasol Mustang has a new motor and sports a number of aerodynamic improvements. With Formato's championship lead a tenuous one, van der Merwe will be fired up to take over the championship lead.
Add to the plot two-time Wesbank champion Ben Morgenrood (Hillbank Mustang), lying third in the championship and a rejuvenated Larry Wilford (Fuchs Titan Mustang), and the scene is set for a classic clash. Morgenrood is back to his winnings ways and is always a threat, while a win for Wilford is long overdue.
BIG SASOL FORMULA FORD ENTRY
A huge entry of 26 cars will line-up for rounds seven and eight of the Sasol Formula Ford Championship with the entry including a few new faces.
Teenage kart racer Brett Mayberry joins the Kent class along with newcomers Wayne van Nikkelen-Kuyper and Jeff Morgan-Hill who will make their debuts at the Midrand circuit. Currently leading the championship in the Zetec Class is young Capetonian Stephen (Etosha Charcoal Van Diemen).
Simpson has a slender one point lead over Steve Clark (Fuchs Titan Mygale) and that sets up an interesting scenario. Third-placed Dawie Brough (D&R Paints Van Diemen) has a rejuvenated Ebrahim Levy (Red Bull Mygale) breathing down his neck with the hard charging Jonathan du Toit (Psion Van Diemen) a further four points in arrears.
With the championship so evenly poised it sets the scene for fireworks. One driver, however, who could upset the applecart is experienced Morne Jurgens (Jurgens Truck Center Mygale) who is back in action after a lengthy lay-off.
The First Division for Kent cars has received the biggest boost to their numbers. The field has swollen to 16 entries with championship leader Werner Schmidt, in the Neutron Paints Swift, enjoying a comfortable lead over Brian Greyling in the (Royal Purple/Aerosud Van Diemen).
HUGE BATTLE IN TELKOM SUPERSPORT MOTORCYCLE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Telkom Supersport Championship consistently churns out some of the best racing in South Africa, but a single glance at the championship table tells you Saturday's outing could be something special.
Multiple champion Russell Wood (Nashua Yamaha) already has a tight grip on this year's series, but behind him there is a free for all. Just 10 points separate the next five riders and that is a recipe for action.
Wood is in the happy position of having a 32 point lead over Stewart Macleod (Brother Aztec Suzuki) with the KwaZulu-Natalian already having the luxury of being able to take a conservative approach, not that that is his style, and will ride for points. It is behind Wood that the fun and games start with Macleod three points clear of Zimbabwean Shaun Whyte on the Kawasaki.
Whyte, in turn, is four points clear of Arushen Moodley (Nashua Yamaha) with Graeme van Breda (Kawasaki) a further two points in arrears and one point ahead of Brad Anassis on the third Nashua Yamaha. Missing from the top six are Autopage Cellular Honda pair Robbie Petersen, hampered by injury since the start of the season, and an out of luck Greg Dreyer, but add them to an already volatile mix and the game is on.
While all the focus will be on the fight between the big guns, there is an interesting addition to the entry list in 15-year-old Arran Brown. A pupil at Greenside High School a big future is forecast for Brown and it is going to be interesting to see how he handles a pressure cooker situation.
GERBER OUT TO CONSOLIDATE VODACOM SPORTS PROTOTYPE LEAD
Now in its second year as a national championship category, the Vodacom Sports Prototype Championship has provided for some close and interesting racing.
Reigning champion Francois Gerber goes into Saturday's round of the series with an eight point lead over Alan Eve and will be out to consolidate. With Wotjek Pieron missing from Saturday's line-up Donovan Roscoe, Colin Frost and Richard Wood all get the opportunity to climb up the leaderboard.
The Vodacom Sports Prototype event, instead of a one hour mini endurance will this time around be run over two 8 lap heats.
PROGRAMME OF EVENTS
SASOL FORMULA FORD
TELKOM SUPERSPORT M/CYCLES
MIDAS GROUP N
VODACOM SPORTS PROTOTYPE
BANKFIN TOURING CARS
VODACOM ISONDO SPORTS 2000