Zwartkops season finale preview

South Africa's largest - and arguably toughest - 2001 circuit racing title chase will be concluded at the Pretoria Zwartkops Raceway next Saturday (November 10). The final two races of the 22-round Midas Production Car Championship will see two...

South Africa's largest - and arguably toughest - 2001 circuit racing title chase will be concluded at the Pretoria Zwartkops Raceway next Saturday (November 10).

The final two races of the 22-round Midas Production Car Championship will see two drivers from the very opposite poles of a 40-car field fighting for the year's overall title.

That apart, two of the season's five Midas class championships have not been won, and will be fought for at Zwartkops.

In the overall championship stakes, the year's final two protagonists will be Shaun van der Linde in his Class A Castrol BMW 328i and Cor Kraamwinkel, in Class E with his privateer Goldi Chicken Opel Kadett 140iS.

Going to Zwartkops, already-crowned Class A champion Van der Linde enjoys an 11-point lead over Kraamwinkel. With each able to score a maximum of 20 points in the year's two final races, the Castrol BMW driver will be the logical overall title favourite.

His confidence will be boosted by the support of Castrol BMW 328i team mate Michael Briggs, who rode shotgun for Van der Linde in Class A extremely efficiently all season. Challenging the Castrol pairing - and certainly able to beat them at the tight and twisty Zwartkops Raceway - will be Kaye-Eddie BMW 328i drivers Reghardt Roets and Gavin Kelsey.

Others who could upset the applecart will be Steve Wyndham (Ford Credit Fairmont), Richard Sorensen (IRCA BMW 328i) and veteran Peter Lanz, in his Nissan Maxima QX. The Class A entry will be rounded out by Michele Lupini, whose Champion Subaru Impreza WRX could be a force to reckon with, should it respond to the teams tuning efforts.

In Class B, Team Total's Honda Ballade V-TEC drivers Curt Alchin, Clinton Weston and Gavin Cronje should rule. Their only opposition should come from ultra-quick privateer Mario da Sousa in his AV Racing Toyota Corolla RSi.

The class will be rounded out by Brian Martin (Havoline Toyota Corolla RSi) and series newcomer Arthur Cavallineas (Honda Ballade V-TEC).

With the Zwartkops Raceway only 2,4 kilometres in length, next Saturday's Midas Production Car field will be split in two, with the drivers in Classes A and B racing on their own.

Topping the entry list for the rest - and fighting for the year's Class C title - will be Bert Grogor (German Workshop Opel Kadett 180i), plus Captonians Lawrence Boshoff (Orbit Coach Works Honda Ballade 180i) and Phillip Booysen (Barnett's Honda Ballade 180i).

Covered by a mere 13 points in the title chase, any of the three drivers could emerge from the Zwartkops races as the 2001 Midas Production Class C Champion. Others who could interfere with their fight will be Honda Ballade 180i drivers Lee Phillips, Ian Long and Hector North, racing under the respective Auto Motive-, Fuel Saver- and East Rand Mall banners.

Class D will see a total of five manufacturers represented, plus a bitter, final title fight between two team mates. Separated by 11 points on the official scorecard, Deltapart Opel Corsa 160 GSi team mates Leeroy Poulter and Stephen Taylor can both clinch the class title at Zwartkops.

Both will wish to do just that, concluding a season-long, often robust battle which has left the two young chargers totally bereft of mutual affection.

Almost certain to interfere with their vendetta at Zwartkops will be Fanie de Bruin (Makita Ford Fiesta RSi), Etienne du Toit (M&R Ford Fiesta RSi), Dawie de Villiers (Daihatsu Sirion), Phillip Kekana (Sasol Toyota Tazz 160i RS) and Jaco Correia (Honda Ballade 160i).

Finally, overall Midas Production Car Championship contender Cor Kraamwinkel needs two race wins and two quickest lap times in Class E to keep his title aspirations alive.

Having just rebuilt his Goldi Chicken Opel Kadett 140iS after a huge shunt at East London two weeks ago, the above could be a tall order for the Pretoria youngster. He will face a formidable challenge from the likes of Robi Beninca (Motorhouse VW CitiGolf), James Menin (Goldpro Midas Opel Corsa 130iS), Angus Thompson (Garonga VW CitiGolf), Sheehan Grant (Shalom Opel Kadett 140iS) and Jody Powell (STER Opel Corsa 130iS).

-procar-

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Series General
Drivers Gavin Cronje , Leeroy Poulter