The ninth and penultimate round of the Bridgestone SA Production Car championship at Killarney in the Western Cape on Saturday (November 4) sees the battle for the overall drivers' title between Nissan's championship pretender Leeroy Poulter and BMW's defending champion Anthony Taylor finely poised.
Four races remain, two at the picturesque circuit that boasts a glorious view of Cape Town's Table Mountain as a backdrop and the final two at Kyalami in Gauteng on November 25. Just 10 points separate the two contenders, with Poulter in the lead
If past results are anything to go by, Poulter should extend his lead over Taylor and have some peace of mind when he makes the final trip of the year to Kyalami. In round two in March, Poulter and the 3,5-litre V6 Sasol Nissan 350Z were unstoppable, racking up two successive wins and bonus points for pole position in each race. They also posted the fastest lap in each race and left behind a new Killarney lap record for a class A production car.
Since then, Poulter has gone on to score another three wins, four second places and a third. Taylor has six victories to his credit.
"I like the Killarney layout and always enjoy racing in Cape Town," said Poulter. "But you have to be at your very best if you want to win at any circuit and there?s added pressure this time. We're very close to winning our first production car championship together and we're up against a strong field including the reigning champion team, who have won four times in the last five years."
Poulter will have backup from team-mate Gary Formato, who is highly motivated to end off what for him has been a frustrating and uncharacteristically unproductive season. "Killarney offers a driver every opportunity to utilise all his or her skill and experience. I've enjoyed some great results there in the past and I?m looking forward to a good weekend.
"The Sasol Nissan 350Z is an awesome car and the team has done wonders in developing it into a championship winner in less than two years. Lady Luck hasn't always been on my side this year and I'm not in contention for either the overall or the class A championship. But cowboys don't cry and this one still has an important job to do ? ensure that my team-mate wins the championship and, in the process, get amongst the points myself. This cowboy still has bullets in his gun!"
The third member of the Champion, Ferodo and AE supported Sasol Nissan team, Tschops Sipuka, is racing overseas this weekend in the English-based Formula Palmer Audi and his place will be taken by Nissan Junior team stalwart Reghardt Roets. Roets already has a win under his belt, at East London in round four in April. Roets' seat in the Bosal 350Z will be occupied by former national Formula Ford and saloon car champion Deon Joubert.
Joubert, a former BMW and Opel touring car star in the 1990s who learnt his racing at Killarney, will be something of a wild card, although he has kept his hand in with regular appearances in the Western Province Motor Club?s home-grown SuperCar series (he was champion in 2004, but is now something of a part-time racer).
The second member of the Nissan Junior Team, which is run by Lee Phillips' SAM Racing, Marco da Cunha, will be keen to show his true colours in the DCM/Tubular Technical 350Z after only joining the privately-run team at Zwartkops in August.