Zwartkops to open Super Series

2012-02-21 11:48

The opening round of the 2012 WesBank Super Series at Zwartkops on March 3 will carry all the expectation and uncertainty of the first event of the year.

A long off-season break also fires up enthusiasm for a pipe-opener with competitors and enthusiasts itching to get back into action. The silly season and musical chairs associated with the off-season lull helps to fuel expectations and drivers and riders who harbour title aspirations will be looking to be quick to get ready.

The WesBank Super Series will again follow a tried and tested format with seven National championship categories. Saloon-car action will come via Production Cars, V8 Supercars and the VW Cup which for 2012 will do away with the Veterans' title for drivers older than 27.

Single-seaters will be covered by Formula VW and Formula 1600 with two-wheeled action again coming from Supersport 600 and Superbike 1000. The format provides varied action to meet all preferences - something for everybody.

Gate entry will be R80 per adult, R60 for youngsters and under-12'sfree.

Bridgestone Production Cars

This  championship will have a familiar feel at Zwartkops yet has some radical changes, interesting faces and new machinery.

The Xtreme Team run by Terry Moss Racing remains the same with reigning champion Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka again out in a pair of Audi S4 entries. The team has a solid and settled look but there is plenty of opposition from other Audi squads with former champion Johan Fourie (Audi S4) always a threat along with Melvill Priest who has moved to join Vic Maharaj in another Audi S4.

With Priest on the move the Afrox BMW team has lured Etienne van der Linde out of what one always regarded as a tenuous retirement. Former champion Anthony Taylor and Van der Linde will be out in 2011’s cars at Zwartkops but BMW plans are understood to involve new models ready for round two at Killarney (Cape Town) and an expanded team with the Beemer brigade growing to six cars during the course of the season.

Hennie Groenewald and Richard Pinard will again be out in a pair of Subaru WRX entries. Groenewald is another drivers who can never be left out of calculations and Pinard showed flashes of form last season that suggest he can spring a surprise or two.

Class T will also have a familiar feel with reigning champion Gary Formato and Shaun Duminy and their Ford Focii. Old foe Graeme Nathan (VW Golf 6), youngster Gennaro Bonafede (Golf 6) and Michael van Rooyen in (Opel OPC) will provide the opposition.

Class T, however, is also due for a shake-up as the season progresses with new machinery and new drivers set to see the wind of change sweep through the championship.

V8 Supercars

The V8 Supercar “big bangers” will also have a familiar look about them with the Auby family taking on all-comers with Jimmy Auby succeeding younger brother Brandon as champion in the Super GT category.

Veterans Ben Morgenrood (Falcon) and Franco di Matteo, in the Jaguar, were in championship contention over most of the latter part of the season, and one would expect to see them once again providing stern opposition. The Correia brothers, Danie and Jaco, in the Corvettes, could also ruffle a few feathers.

Reigning GT Class champion Larry Wilford (Falcon) had an up-and-down season, and when he was good he was great and when he was bad the results spoke for themselves. Fortunately for Wilford’s championship effort consistency was a commodity that also eluded challengers.

Engen VW Cup

The Engen VW Cup championship again has the makings of a highly competitive and interesting series.

There is a blend of established stars and up and coming young guns that is certain to lead to plenty of action. Reigning champion Devin Robertson dominated last season’s title race but might find the going a little tougher this time around.

Former champion Mathew Hodges is back in harness but it is a crop of hungry young guns who will command most of the attention. Kosie Weyers, joined in the Xtreme Team by Terry Moss Racing development driver Mandla Mdakane, will be a championship contender along with Kelvin van der Linde, in a VW Polo, and other youngsters such as Jordan Pepper, Dewald Brummer and Chad van Beurden will be watched with interest.

The progress of talented Andre Batea will also come in for special attention in a category that could turn into a star performer in the Super Series.

Formula VW/Formula Midas 1600

With a couple of promising exceptions, the Formula VW and Formula 1600 menus will be pretty much the same as in 2011.

On the Formula VW front reigning champion Jayde Kruger as well as Robert Wolk, former champion Simon Moss and Tasmin Pepper form the backbone of a series that last season saw Kruger take control of matters late in the year. Early indications are that Rotax Max kart champions Cristiano Morgado and Caleb Williams will return to the fray and that will pep up proceedings.

Formula 1600 champion Mathew Merton is believed to be taking a sabbatical with Nicholas van Weely heading for the Formula VW ranks. That shifts the attention to Jason and Keegan Campos, James Temple and Werner Scholtz (Mygales) and Richard Bonneschen (Van Diemen).

There is again a little added incentive for the champion at the end of the season. This comes by way of a fully sponsored drive in the Formula Ford festival at Brands Hatch, or a Formula VW package for the 2013 season.

SA Superbike/SA Supersport

The SA Superbike and SA Supersport championships consistently served up some of the most exciting racing in the Super Series and nothing is likely to change this time around.

Former champion Sheridan Morais is likely to make only sporadic appearances because of overseas commitments and that leaves reigning champion Greg Gildenhuys, again out on a BMW Motorrad factory entry, as the early Superbike favourite. Gildenhuys could find himself under early pressure from a few quarters.

Chris Leeson has switched from Kawasaki to Ducati and Supersport champion Dave McFadden will bring fresh impetus to the series on a Kawasaki. McFadden may take a race or two to settle in the unlimited category while Nicholas Grobler (BMW) improves with every season.

Early indications are that the Supersport category is likely to be dominated by the powerful Honda line-up that again includes Lance Isaacs. The Capetonian will be joined by Clint Seller and two exciting young guns, Brent Harran and Cam Petersen, whose continued progress will be watched with interest.