Ford Centenary race day at AA Kyalami preview

All the ingredients are there for the Ford Centenary Race Day, presented by Vodacom, at AA Kyalami on September 8 to turn into one of the highlights of the season. Five national championship categories - Midas Production Cars, the Wesbank V8 ...

All the ingredients are there for the Ford Centenary Race Day, presented by Vodacom, at AA Kyalami on September 8 to turn into one of the highlights of the season.

Five national championship categories - Midas Production Cars, the Wesbank V8 Championship, Engen Volkswagen Cup, Sasol Formula Ford and Dark Dog Superbikes - will be joined at the Midrand circuit by the SASCAR brigade. And with the season now in the home straight, the crunch is on for those who have title aspirations.

There are a couple of competitors who go into the September 8 outing in a slight comfort zone. Others, however, need to use the Ford Centenary Race Day meeting to good effect and gather in all the points they can - and that sets up a situation where drama cannot be far away.

Proceedings get underway on Thursday, September 6 with practice sessions for the Wesbank and Dark Dog categories. There will be official practice for all categories from 07h15 on Friday, September 7 with timed qualifying for Engen Volkswagen Cup, Midas Production Cars, Wesbank V8 Championship and SASCAR from 15h15.

Warm-up sessions on September 8 will start at 07h30 and will include qualifying for Sasol Formula Ford, Dark Dog Superbikes and the second heat of the Volkswagen Cup. The first race is scheduled to start at 10h00.

Gate entry at AA Kyalami is R30 per adult with children under 12 free. Booking is available at Computicket outlets.

TIGHT TITLE BATTLES IN MIDAS PRODUCTION CAR SERIES

Some really tight championship battles have emerged in the Midas Production Car Championship, and AA Kyalami could turn into a make or break scenario for some drivers.

In the overall championship Cor Kraamwinkel (Goldi Chicken Opel Kadett) has a nine-point lead over Shaun van der Linde (Van der Linde Racing BMW). Van der Linde has a 15-point cushion over Leeroy Poulter and only a point behind the Pretoria youngster is Delta Parts Opel team-mate Stephen Taylor.

With Kraamwinkel the dominant figure in Class E throughout the season, van der Linde has a tougher task on his hands in the highly competitive Class A field. The former Touring Car champion will want to stay out of trouble in what is likely to turn into a Class A bun fight, and will know he needs maximum points to keep the pressure on Kraamwinkel.

With protests, appeals and counter appeals - with Toyota central figures - over the 'control brake' issue, the points situation in Class B has been in a constant state of flux since the May 5 meeting at AA Kyalami when the issue first came to a head. Now that the matter has been settled, Total AMG Honda youngster Gavin Cronje sits with a four point lead over team-mate Curt Alchin and Team Castrol Toyota driver Charl Wilken.

AA Kyalami has always been a happy hunting ground for Wilken and team-mate Mark Cronje, and they will be hoping for the sort of returns that will take Wilken to the top of the championship. The Toyota/AMG Honda rivalry is always intense, so expect some fireworks here.

In Class C only 11 points separate Bert Grogor (Opel Kadett), Capetonian Philip Booysen (Honda Ballade) and Doug Reekie in another Honda Ballade. Booysen has been on a roll of late but another Capetonian, Lawrence Boshoff (Honda Ballade) could throw a spanner in the works for the lot of them.

The Poulter/Taylor battle - with a single point the difference - will dominate Class D. Soweto driver Philip Kekana (Sasol Dual Fuel Toyota Tazz) has gone off the boil since a double win at East London in June, and has now lost touch with the Opel Corsa pair.

Kraamwinkel now has a 41 point cushion over James Menin (Opel Corsa) in Class E and looks to be almost home a dry from a championship point of view. Menin, however, is under pressure from Toyota Tazz privateer Dave Compton with only seven points separating the pair.

SUPERVAN LEADS 'OLD TIMERS' WESBANK V8 CHAMPIONSHIP

A trio of veterans lead the championship standings in a Wesbank V8 Championship that has come alive this season.

The introduction of the Petronas Opel Astras and the presence of younger drivers like Johan Fourie and Hennie Groenewald has suddenly transformed the Wesbank series. This year's new regulations have also played a role, and the AA Kyalami clash is going to be highly interesting.

Sarel van der Merwe (Sasol Ford Mustang -191), Ben Morgenrood (Auto Trader Ford Mustang -171) and Willie Hepburn (Chev Camaro -145) fill the top three championship places. Hepburn, however, is only one point clear of Fourie (MD Transport Ford Mustang) who had a string of consecutive wins broken last time out at Aldo Scribante.

The Scribante outing saw Deon Joubert give the Petronas Opel squad their first win of the season, and the experienced Capetonian and team-mate Shaun Watson-Smith will be strong AA Kyalami contenders. Groenewald (Chev Camaro) is also starting to fulfill his potential, and with the likes of Riaan Botma (Chev Camaro) and Larry Wilford (Fuchs Ford Mustang) to keep everyone honest the scene is ripe for fireworks.

Van der Merwe has not done much winning of late, but his major aim will be to keep on gathering in points. Consistency is going to be the key for Supervan in altering his ratio of national rally titles and circuit racing championships.

DU TOIT ON TRACK FOR SASOL FORMULA FORD HONOURS

Young Pretoria driver Jonathan du Toit (Big Z/Psion Van Diemen) is on track for Sasol Formula Ford honours this season, and will use the September 8 outing to consolidate.

There was a slight hiccup in du Toit's charge towards the title in Port Elizabeth last time out, but he is one of those drivers with title hopes who is in a slight comfort zone. Man of the moment at Aldo Scribante was another Pretoria driver, Brett Mayberry (Investment Cars Mygale) who won both heats.

Mayberry's double in the Eastern Cape lifted him to second in the championship, and cut du Toit's lead to a manageable 23 points. Mayberry moved five points ahead of Boksburg based Morne Jurgens (Jurgens Truck Hire Mygale) with the championship issue a straight fight between the two Pretoria drivers and the more experienced Jurgens.

AA Kyalami sees Mayberry and Jurgens in make or break situations. To sustain and increase the pressure on du Toit, both Mayberry and Jurgens need maximum returns and it adds up to an interesting situation.

In the Kent Class veteran Brian Greyling (UPS Signs Van Diemen) has put some daylight between himself and nearest challenger Andy Brown in the Airex Royale). Greyling is now 26 points clear of Brown, with the pair the dominant drivers throughout the season in the category.

NATHAN SITTING PRETTY IN ENGEN VOLKSWAGEN CUP

Midrand driver Graeme Nathan is sitting pretty in this year's Engen Volkswagen Cup, and is one of the drivers chasing a national championship who can go to AA Kyalami in a relaxed frame of mind.

Consistency has taken Nathan (Ciro Coffee VW Polo) to a 35 point lead over Eastern Cape driver Tschops Sipuka in the Engen backed VW Polo. Nathan is in the happy position where all the pressure is on those doing the chasing, with Sipuka 13 points clear of former champion Derrick Irving in the National Auto Glass entry.

Graeme Donker (Mini Panelbeaters VW Polo) and double former champion Marthinus Briers (VolkswagenSure VW Polo) make up the top five in the championship, but have little chance of challenging for top honours. There is, however, plenty of pride at stake in the battle for the minor placings, and that leads to good racing throughout the field.

VODACOM NASHUA YAMAHA TEAM IN ATTACK MODE IN DARK DOG SERIES

The Vodacom Nashua Yamaha squad, led by multiple champion Russell Wood, will be in attack mood at AA Kyalami.

Wood currently trails championship leader Greg Dreyer (Autopage Cellular Honda) by 33 points, and needs to close the gap on the Capetonian. At the same time Wood's team-mates, Lance Isaacs and Arushen Moodley, are involved in a fierce championship battle with veteran Zimbabwean Robbie Petersen on the second Autopage Cellular Honda.

With Dreyer in supreme form of late, Petersen has also quietly slipped into third place in the championship. He is 10 points clear of Isaacs, who has gone off the boil a little in recent outings, and 12 points clear of Moodley, who has been a model of consistency this season.

With the championship position in its current state you can bet your bottom dollar that Wood, Isaacs and Moodley will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Dreyer and Petersen. Always one of the quickest riders in the championship, previous Dreyer campaigns have foundered on rushes of blood that have led to costly crashes.

The AA Kyalami outing, and the rest of the season, are going to be a test of Dreyer's mental strength. So far he has stood up to the pressure admirably.

While the Vodacom Nashua Yamaha and Autopage Cellular Honda camps square up to each other, they will need to take cognizance of a rider like Trevor Crookes on the Ducati. The Natalian is probably the unluckiest rider on the circuit this season, and on a couple of occasions only mechanical gremlins have stood between the former SA champion and a maiden win this season.

In the Privateers Championship leader Noel Haarhof (Wayne Heasman Racing Suzuki) has a big cushion over Boksburg rider Jason Wessels on another Suzuki. For his part Wessels is also well clear of Yamaha man James Barson.

Understandably there have been slim pickings for the privateers this season, but Durban rider Hudson Kennaugh struck a blow for them with a podium place last time out at Phakisa. The likes of Shaun Whyte (Silver Arrow Suzuki), Haarhof, Wessels and Kennaugh could emerge as surprise packages, but it is the Yamaha/Honda battle up front that will hold most of the attention.

FOURIE NEW LEADER IN SASCAR SERIES

Talented Capetonian Johan Fourie will be a busy man at AA Kyalami on September 8.

Fourie will be in action in both the Wesbank V8 Championship and the SASCAR category, and will be favoured to win at least once in both categories. Fourie had a string of Wesbank wins interrupted last time out at Aldo Scribante, and goes to AA Kyalami as the new leader in the SASCAR series.

Fourie has edged ahead of veteran George Fouche in the SASCAR championship, and the East London based Fouche will want to strike back. Although Fourie is the class horse of the field, there is enough quality in the rest of the field to pose him a few problems.

Fouche will be in a determined frame of mind, Capetonian Kosie Swanepoel is always an enthusiastic challenger, and the likes of Peter Lindenberg, Grant van Schalkwyk and Jean-Jacques Maree have performed consistently throughout the season. It is Fourie, however, who will carry most of the smart money, and Wesbank competitors will be hoping he focuses most of his attention on consolidating his position in the SASCAR series.

-AA Kyalami

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Shaun Watson-Smith , Sarel van der Merwe , George Fouche , Gavin Cronje , Hennie Groenewald , Leeroy Poulter , Peter Li