Bragging rights for Toyota and Ford

Both Toyota and Ford came away from the Bronkhorstspruit 400 – round 4 of the 2019 South African Cross-Country Series (SACCS) – with bragging rights with Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Henk Lategan winning overall and the Castrol Ford Cross Country Team of Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable taking Class T honours.

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Lategan won the race overall, echoing his result from 2018, when he achieved his maiden cross-country victory at the same event. This year, however, he was partnered with navigator Brett Cummings, while Barry White read the notes last year.

Lategan/Cummings’ victory, in a time of 4hrs 37min 15sec, was the cherry on top of a class performance by various Toyota crews in Bronkhorstspruit. Teammates Shameer Variawa and Juan Möhr continued their good run, recording the third-fastest time in the overall standings, just behind the Atlas Copco Toyota Hilux crew of Chris Visser and new navigator Danie Stassen.

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Visser recently won the 2019 Toyota 1,000 Desert Race, with Philip Herselman beside him, and finished the Bronkhorstspruit 400 7min 11sec behind Lategan/Cummings.

Unfortunately, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Giniel de Villiers and Dennis Murphy failed to score meaningful points, after a disappointing qualifying race on the Friday of the event.

“I am not sure if I missed the call, or it just did not register, but I arrived at a rough section early in the loop way too fast,” said the defending champion after the dust had settled over the qualifier. “We hit a rock at pace, breaking the wishbone on the left front suspension. We couldn’t continue, and were forced to start the race from the back of the grid.”

The dream season continued for the Castrol Ford Cross Country Team of Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable when they won their fifth race in a row.

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The reigning Class T champions qualified sixth fastest during Friday’s 66 km prologue in their Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) built and run Ford Ranger, after a cautious initial outing in the extremely dry and dusty conditions that are typical of the Highveld in winter.

Proving just how competitive the field is, the KwaZulu-Natal duo were within 28 seconds of the second-placed team, which set the scene for a thrilling main race on Saturday.

However, they were imperious in the main event, and surged to the front of the Class T field on the first 172 km loop with a much quicker pace than their rivals, with several of them losing time due to punctures.

Setting out on the second loop, Woolridge and Huxtable held a 52-second lead over Johan and Werner Horn (Toyota). Despite the best efforts of the Horn brothers, who eventually finished third, and runners-up Gary Bertholdt and Geoff Minnitt (Toyota), the Ford Ranger crew never put a foot wrong and retained their lead through to the finish of the race with a faultless drive that further extended their advantage at the top of the championship table.

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“To get a win like this was fantastic and is exactly what we wanted, but after Friday’s qualifying session we weren’t all that confident, as Lance and Ward were sixth in class and 12th on the road,” said team principal Neil Woolridge. “Lance was not quite himself as he’s had a bit of flu and we have been extremely busy at work building new race cars, but he had a good sleep on Friday night and he was on it today.

“He and Ward had a clean run with no punctures and made no mistakes, and their Ranger was perfect. This is great for the championship with five wins from five races – it cannot get any better than that,” Neil added.

The next round of the 2019 SACCS is the Harrismith 400, which is set to take place on 13 and 14 September. However, Toyota Gazoo Racing SA will be turning their attention to the Dakar Rally, with a test session planned for later in August.

 

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Turned on its head

World rallycross got turned on its head yet again as Andreas Bakkerud notched up his first win of the season in Trois-Rivieres, Canada with neither of the Hansen brothers making the podium.

Bakkerud scored a stunning victory at the World RX of Canada to spice up the drivers’ battle in the World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy with three rounds remaining.

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It was the Monster Energy RX Cartel driver’s first World RX victory since 2016 in Argentina. He had come close twice this year – second in Belgium and Great Britain – but on the daunting street circuit in Quebec it finally came good for the affable Norwegian.

Bakkerud acknowledged the efforts of his RX Cartel crew in finally securing a win that he thought might never come. “We have worked hard as a team and I was hoping and praying that this day would come even though with all the bad luck and near misses we have had this season, I thought it might never happen,” he said.

“We have had some challenging months in getting the team together for the first round in Abu Dhabi. We were so close in Belgium and Silverstone and we were strong until the semi-final in Sweden. Even today, I had problems in the final when I burned the clutch at the start.

“But we have just stuck at it as a team and I’m really pleased for them and all the Bakkerud Blue supporters to finally get the job done.

“It has been nearly 950-something days since my last event win. It was not a race I expected to win to be honest. Canada is not a strong circuit for me. I’m just happy that the car kept in one piece so I could bring home the first win for the RX Cartel.”

The win enabled Bakkerud to usurp Timmy Hansen who was second in the drivers’ standings heading to Canada and close to within five points of championship leader Kevin Hansen.

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Kevin was fifth across the line but was later disqualified from the final after the stewards decided he was at fault in a clash with GC Kompetition’s Anton Marklund.

Kevin now leads overall on 143 points with Bakkerud second on 138 and Timmy third with 129.

As for his championship chances, Bakkerud added: “It is so close, the races are very unpredictable. I think it will be a race to the chequered flag in Cape Town (the final round of the 2019 championship in November).

“It is not going to be easy to win the championship. You need some results and some luck. It’s going to be tricky but you never know.”

Trailing brother Kevin by just six points entering the Canadian round, Timmy was the big loser in the championship squabble after crashing in Q2 and a chaotic race four of Q4.

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His Peugeot 208 was severely damaged in multi-car contact and eventually crawled sideways across the finish line where it was retrieved by a recovery vehicle.

The incidents meant he missed the semi-finals and emerged from the World RX of Canada with only four points.

Second to Bakkerud in the final was Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis who went one better than his third place in round five in Hell, Norway.

“It is really nice to be here between these two guys,” he said. “The team have worked really hard. This is my fifth final of the season so we are getting some rewards.”

Third was GRX Taneco’s Timur Timerzyanov, who had pipped Bakkerud for the spoils at Spa-Francorchamps in May. The Russian had earlier wrestled his Hyundai i20 to a semi-final victory despite a broken suspension.

“Actually the car felt better to drive with the broken suspension,” he joked. “In the final, third place was a present for me after Kevin (Hansen) and Anton (Marklund) crashed in to each other after the joker lap. I was lucky today but that’s racing.”

GC Kompetition team boss Guerlain Chicherit finished fourth to round out an impressive weekend. Marklund was classified fifth following the clash with Kevin Hansen which caused extensive suspension damage to his Renault Megane.

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GRX Taneco’s Niclas Gronholm, who had set the early race weekend pace, and finished as top qualifier, looked set to challenge strongly for overall victory.

However, he paid the price for a costly joker strategy in semi-final one where he finished fourth and thus failed to make the final.

ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider in the Seat Ibiza reached semi-final two but a clash with the Audi S1 of Monster RX Cartel’s Liam Doran resulted in bodywork damage and sixth place. The incident dropped Doran to fourth in the semi when it had seemed a place in the final beckoned for the Briton.

EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo, sporting a ‘just married’ sticker on the rear bumper of his Audi S1 in recognition of the Hungarian’s recent nuptials, celebrated with a race win in Q2 en route to fifth place in his semi-final.

Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska, in the GC Kompetition Renault Megane, was on the back foot from Q1 after being handed a five-second time penalty for twice hitting track markers. The misdemeanours dropped him to ninth place after Q2.

He recovered to reach semi-final one where he finished fifth after clipping the tyre wall. Fellow GCK squad member Cyril Raymond, of France, was thwarted by mechanical failure in the same semi-final.

Guillame De Ridder’s run of bad fortune continued with the Belgian finishing the event in 14th place overall in his GCK Academy Renault Clio.

After a strong run to ninth in Q3, Oliver Bennett’s interest in the weekend ended in race 3 of Q4 when his Xite Racing Mini Cooper was sandwiched off the line and suffered broken right front suspension.

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It was an eventful outing for Team STARD’s Jani Paasonen. The Finn’s issues began in free practice with contact with one of Trois-Rivieres’ famed concrete walls.

His Ford Fiesta then crabbed its way over the line in race three of Q2 after further contact with a tyre barrier resulting in damage to the right rear suspension. He would eventually finish in last place.

The championship now visits Loheac for the Bretagne World RX of France from August 31 to September 1.

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WRX of South Africa

WRX is down to the wire

With just three rounds left in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, this weekend’s tussle at Trois-Rivieres in Canada is going to be vital for all drivers in the chase for championship points.

What makes it even tougher is the course is a 1.37 km high-speed run on a street layout complete with flanking concrete walls.

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The Swedish Hansen brothers, Kevin and Timmy head the drivers’ standings with 131 and 125 points respectively. In third place on 109 points is Norway’s Andreas Bakkerud, still chasing that elusive first victory in 2019.

After round six in Sweden at the start of July, Kevin said he was set for a battle to the wire.

“To lead the championship by just six points is nothing and with Timmy as my team-mate we will continue pushing and at the end of the season we will see who had the most luck and who did not,” he says.

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Meanwhile, Timmy is relishing the challenge of Trois-Rivieres.

“Canada is one of my favourite circuits of the year, because it is a really complete rallycross track. You have asphalt, you have gravel, you have a bit of everything. The asphalt and gravel are in two distinct sections and there is a jump between each section so you really have to switch from one mode to the next,” he says.

“The asphalt section has the highest top speed of the year, and it is somewhere that you have to use all the road, getting as close to the walls as you dare, and that is where you can really make up time. So you need to be quite brave!”

So far the 2019 season has produced five different event winners – including a stunning success for Swedish wildcard Sebastian Eriksson at the Swecon World RX of Sweden. Only Timmy (Spain and Great Britain) has won twice this year.

Having recorded victory in Canada in 2016 and finished second last year, Timmy enters the weekend as favourite. He proved in Sweden, when he rebounded from as low as 16th in qualifying to reach the final, that he can put things right when it matters.

Kevin competes in the same machinery as his brother for the first time in his career and takes momentum from Sweden having finished second in the final to regain the championship lead.

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As for Bakkerud, he has been a bumper-length away from victory most notably at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps where he was pipped by Timmy Hansen and Timur Timerzyanov respectively.

Bakkerud was second to Timmy Hansen in Canada in 2016 and a finalist in 2015 where he finished fifth. The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver was disadvantaged by the changeable weather in Sweden and his Audi S1 was brought to a halt by a broken driveshaft in his semi-final.

“I am hoping to put the bad luck of Sweden behind me,” he says. “Canada is always a challenge so I am looking forward to it.”

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Niclas Gronholm, the winner in Hell, Norway, is currently fourth in the chase on 96 points despite missing the rounds in Belgium and Great Britain through illness.

The GRX Taneco driver believes his Hyundai i20 will be up for the job in Trois-Rivieres. “I am really looking forward to the race in Canada – I think we have a good car for the track,” the Finn said.

“I like racing at Trois-Rivieres even though it is very tricky in some places and since this is a street circuit, there is no room for errors. It has been a long break from racing now, my ‘batteries’ are fully charged and motivation is high.”

GRX Taneco team-mate Timur Timerzyanov, the winner of round three in Belgium, is also looking forward to spreading the World RX gospel.

“Rallycross for North America is still a relatively new thing and I am glad that we can show Canadians how exciting it is,” the Russian said.

“There is always plenty of action and great racing at Trois-Rivieres, with sudden weather changes possibly mixing up the field even more.”

The consistency of Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis has brought rewards with the Latvian holding down fifth place overall (89 points) after appearing in four of the six finals to date. The highlight was third place in Norway.

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Bakkerud’s Monster RX Cartel team-mate Liam Doran has rued missed opportunities this year. He has made the podium once (in Abu Dhabi) from four finals. The Briton lies seventh with 76 points, two behind Timerzyanov, and is seeking redemption this time out.

“I’ve struggled a bit at the more traditional rallycross tracks – Norway and Sweden – and I’m looking forward to Canada which is a different style of track. Hopefully it will bring a change of fortune,” he said.

ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider, a semi-finalist in Canada two years’ ago, believes Trois-Rivieres will mostly be all about horsepower.

“Canada is an engine track. It has the longest and quickest straight on the calendar,” he said. “But you also need good aero and mechanical grip for the dirt section which is quite rough. I think the Seat will be suited to the track and we have a small upgrade for Canada so I’m optimistic.”

The five-car GC Kompetition squad are also likely to feature strongly, according to team boss Guerlain Chicherit. “In Holjes we showed competitive pace and found some consistency. Canada is an exciting track for both the Meganes and the Clios and a really fun event to be at,” he said.

EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo and Xite Racing’s Oliver Bennett are also looking to overcome the disappointment of finishing down the order in Holjes due to mishaps and mechanical failures.

World RX Statistics from Circuit Trois-Rivieres:

World RX event #68 (Round 7 2019)
Circuit length:
1370m (the longest of 10)
Average speed (lap record): 105.0 km/h (3rd fastest of 10)
Lap record: 46.959 by Petter Solberg (2018)
Joker lap record: 49.727 by Petter Solberg (2016)
Difference normal/joker: 2.77 (4th longest of 10)
4 laps record: 3:20.947 by Petter Solberg (2016)
6 laps record: 4:57.692 by Petter Solberg (2016)

DID YOU KNOW?
Petter Solberg is the sole track record-holder at Circuit Trois-Rivieres; the fastest ever World RX driver at a single lap, a single joker lap, a four laps qualifying race and a six laps finale race.

Solberg is the only driver to have achieved all records at not only one but two circuits. He’s also the sole record holder at Lydden Hill.

At the new circuit layout in Barcelona the Hansen brothers have all track records – Kevin the single lap record and Timmy the three others.

Colin Windell is a Brand Ambassador

WRX of South Africa

More grunt for Mustang

“I believe in me. I’m a little screwed up, but I’m beautiful.” – Steve McQueen

In propelling the Ford Mustang to instant stardom and everlasting iconic status in the movie ‘Bullitt’, actor Steve McQueen’s words about himself could easily apply to the car that has captivated petrolheads in all its shapes since it was launched in April 1964.

Incidentally, the first appearance by a Mustang in a movie was in 1964 in ‘The Troops of St Tropez’ and that was followed up by an appearance in ‘Goldfinger’ in the same year, the release of which was timed for the actual launch of the car in America.

Now in its sixth generation the signature styling of the Mustang has remained reasonably constant, even if its shape and size has varied quite dramatically – the second generation from 1974, for example, being built on the Pinto sub-compact platform.

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Now, for 2020 it has been updated to be sleeker, faster and more technologically advanced with engine and suspension enhancements, as well as advanced driver assistance features for customers of the iconic sports car.

“The passion for Mustang is stronger than ever, proven by this legendary model’s unrivalled dominance of the sports car segment globally, which has made it one of the most iconic sights on local roads since it first went on sale in South Africa in 2016,” says Doreen Mashinini, General Manager, Marketing at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA).

“There are few cars that deliver such a combination of heritage, style and performance to such a wide audience, and the New Ford Mustang offers the most compelling package yet.”

In the broad band of Sports & GT cars on the local market, Mustang stands proud having sold 36 units last month against 13 for the BMW Z4 and 5 for the Jaguar F-Type.

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Certainly enough interest to warrant the 50 special edition Bullitt variants allocated to South Africa that will be offered in classic Bullitt-exclusive Dark Highland Green or Shadow Black, along with a range of styling and feature enhancements.

This is powered by an uprated 338 kW version of Ford’s 5,0-litre V8 that delivers enhanced performance and a more engaging driving experience thanks to the fitment of a six-speed manual gearbox.

The revised ‘standard’ versions are available in Fastback and Convertible body styles with a choice of uprated 2.3 EcoBoost and 5.0 V8 engines matched to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

The exterior of the new Ford Mustang delivers a sleeker, more athletic appearance and the bonnet profile is now lower with integrated air vents, combined with a revised lower grille design.

The rear-end design is enhanced with a re-modelled bumper and diffuser element, accommodating standard quad-tailpipes for the 5,0-litre GT model.

Mustang’s headlights, daytime running lights, indicators and three-dimensional tri-bar tail lights now all feature LED technology as standard, combined with LED foglights. The front headlight bezels have also been restyled to reflect the trapezoidal shape of the upper grille.

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Ford’s 5,0-litre V8 engine has been further developed to deliver more power and a higher rev-limit than ever before. Peak power climbs from 309 kW on the previous model to 331 kW, with an accompanying torque peak of 529 Nm supported by the introduction of Ford’s new high-pressure direct injection and low-pressure port fuel injection system which improves low-end torque.

The more fuel-efficient 2,3-litre EcoBoost petrol engine delivers 213 kW and 441 Nm of torque – an increase of 11 Nm. The revised engine offers a more responsive and engaging driving experience thanks to a transient overboost function for the turbo-charger – triggered under heavy acceleration to provide an extra burst of boost following each up-shift.

Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission uses an electronic control system, which enables settings that optimise performance for Drive Modes. Real-time adaptive shift-scheduling allows the transmission to adapt to changing conditions and select the right gear in any situation. Steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters give drivers maximum control.

Ford engineers have optimised Mustang’s driving dynamics with recalibrated shock absorbers to improve stability through corners and the rear suspension is stiffened with a cross-axis joint that reduces unwanted movement at each corner. Thicker anti-roll bars also better control body-roll for sharper handling.

For the first time Mustang is equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control and Distance Alert technologies that help drivers maintain an appropriate distance to the vehicle ahead, as well as Lane Departure Warning that can warn when drivers unintentionally drift out of lane, and Lane Keeping Aid that can apply torque to the steering wheel to steer the vehicle back into lane.

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A customisable, all-digital, 12-inch LCD instrument cluster delivers information displays optimised to match the selected Drive Mode and it also features Ford’s SYNC 3 communications and entertainment system, which allows drivers to control their connected smartphones, audio, and climate functions with conversational voice commands and by using pinch and swipe gestures on the central 8-inch touch screen.

Ford Mustang Prices:
Mustang 2.3 Fastback 10AT                                              R768 000
Mustang 2.3 Convertible 10AT                                         R831 000
Mustang 5.0 GT Fastback 10AT                                        R915 800
Mustang 5.0 GT Convertible 10AT                                   R978 400
Mustang Bullitt 5.0 V8 GT Fastback 6MT                       R995 400

All models come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A 6-year/90 000 km service plan is included, with 15 000 km service intervals.

Hectic action expected

It is ‘even stevens’ in the Falken Polo Cup as South Africa’s most robust form of track racing gears up for another two races this weekend at Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria with Jeffrey Kruger and Bradley Liebenberg equal on 125 championship points.

Current champion Kruger was the first to show his cards when he took three race wins in the first five races of the year held at Dezzi Raceway and Zwartkops.

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His good form also included two more podium finishes as well as the additional points that a driver earns for pole position during qualifying and setting the fastest lap during a race. After those first two events that included the five races at Dezzi Raceway and Pretoria’s Zwartkops Raceway, the momentum swung in the direction of young Liebenberg who qualified on pole and won a race in Cape Town.

He followed it up with a clean sweep in Port Elizabeth that consisted of pole position, three race wins and points for fastest laps in two of them. The result is a tie at the top of the championship points table with 125 points each.

“I can’t wait for Zwartkops,” says Liebenberg. “Jeffrey is very strong there but I love the circuit and we have done some testing that was very positive. We will not know until we get there, but I am expecting a tight race on Saturday.”

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Defending champion Kruger had a similar view: “Zwartkops is the home circuit for most drivers in the field so I expect a number of them to be very quick. Having said that, we will also do our homework to ensure we have good pace. It is going to be a great fight with the whole field including Bradley.”

The duel between Kruger and Liebenberg is by no means the only exciting battle in the Falken Polo Cup field. Behind them, four drivers are separated by only seven championship points, with a further four drivers also still within striking distance just a few points back.

Third on the standings is Capetonian Jurie Swart (74 points) thanks to a popular victory at his home track earlier this year. He is closely followed by Chris Shorter (73) points with young Natalian Clinton Bezuidenhout (70 points) a further three points adrift with Keegan Campos (67 points) occupying sixth at the season’s halfway mark.

There is not much daylight between the top six and the next group that consists of Jason Campos (54 points), Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jonathan Mogotsi (49 points), Matt Shorter (46 points) and Capetonian Dario Busi (44 points).

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“Just looking at that crowded championship points table tells a story,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport. “It is a very good reflection of what happens on the racetracks when a field of 20 identical cars all fight for the same piece of tarmac. The result is a crowded racetrack and an equally crowded points table which is exactly what people want to see and one of the reasons that the Falken Polo Cup is so successful.”

The fight between Liebenberg and Kruger, as well as 20 other equally determined and talented drivers is set to commence on Friday, July 26. The all-important qualifying session as well as two races are scheduled for the Saturday of the event.

GTC points chase hots up

The Global Touring Car (GTC) series heads into the downhill half of the season with the championship chase still wide open and the tight Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria beckoning this weekend.

Multiple GTC2 champion, Keagan Masters currently has 153 championship points to his name after swapping his Volkswagen Golf GTi for the flagship GTC Jetta at the beginning of the 2019 season.

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Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe, himself a multiple GTC2 champion is only a further eight points back, but more importantly, both are still well within striking distance of the Audi-mounted points leader Simon Moss who is currently sitting on 160 points.

“We have had a very exciting season to date that included race victories and a number of podium finishes as well as few results that we were not completely satisfied with,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.

“Yet, we find ourselves in the perfect position to attack over the second half of the season in our quest to win as many titles as possible.”

The title that every driver is after is the overall Drivers’ championship and with 20 points up for grab for a race victory, there is certainly more than enough time for both Daniel and Keagan to close the gap and climb to the top of the overall standings.

“So far, every circuit we have been to this year was new for me from behind the wheel of the GTC Jetta,” says Masters. “We now return to Zwartkops after racing there in April so I know exactly what to expect and I’m looking forward to fighting for a win.”

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Teammate Daniel Rowe has tasted victory at Zwartkops before and is also looking forward to the challenge.

“In a way, Zwartkops is almost like a home race for us. I like the circuit and I think we stand a good chance of winning races and closing the gap to the points leader in the process,” says Rowe. “Since the last round in Port Elizabeth in June, the team worked hard to optimise the performance of the Jetta and to find those extra few fractions of seconds needed to be competive.”

A spanner in both the Volkswagen and Audi works could come from the Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla of Michael van Rooyen.

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The Rustenburg Rocket, as he is also known, has already completed his pre-race testing and described the car as ‘flawless’.

“We ran the car for quite a long test session, in order to ensure everything is in perfect condition for the race,” he says. “The car is better than ever, and we have invested a fair amount of track time in setup for Zwartkops, which is always a furious affair.”

“I wouldd like to score as many points as possible this weekend,” continued Van Rooyen, who is currently tied with Johan Fourie (BMW) for fourth place on the log, just five points behind Volkswagen’s Daniel Rowe, in third.

“We have every reason to be confident for the next round, but regardless of what happens, fans need to attend the race.”

In the GTC2 category, Volkswagen continues to dominate with youngster Bradley Liebenberg leading the way on 180 points thanks to six victories from eight race starts. The sister car piloted by Adrian Wood has accumulated 153 points, but the Kyocera-backed driver managed to take his maiden victory at the last race making his intentions clear for the second half of the season.

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“Our season has been very close to perfect,” said Liebenberg in the week before the Zwartkops race. “The GTi runs perfectly week in and week out and with a great team behind us I can’t see why we should not be able to continue with that kind of form. And at the same time I am also looking forward to fighting it out with my teammate.”

The action at the Zwartkops Raceway will include a number of practice sessions, qualifying and two races.

Kyalami 9-Hour returns

It seriously is happening.

Really!

After a 37-year hiatus there will be a 9-Hour race at Kyalami in November this year.

The historic Kyalami 9-Hour makes a welcome return to motor sport when it joins the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-Hour, California 8-Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa and Suzuka 10-Hour on 2019’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli schedule.

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It kicks off in Johannesburg from November 21-23 and, besides a dazzling array of roaring machines, includes live music, DJs, food trucks, a dedicated kids’ zone and more, making it the must-see family event of the year.

SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO, Stéphane Ratel, believes the addition of Kyalami to the other prestigious GT3 races on the calendar is ‘a dream come true’.

“I’ve spent years trying to get this African leg of the series off the ground. To finally have it all locked in is a massive achievement and one I am absolutely delighted about having an African part of this championship that means we are now across five continents. We are truly a global event and we look forward to November when the thrilling sounds of the vehicles light up Kyalami for nine hours.”

While the Intercontinental GT Challenge is reserved for FIA GT3 specification supercars, many of its events – including the Kyalami 9-Hour – also feature local championships and cars competing for class honours simultaneously.

They will share the track with #IntGTC’s eight full-season manufacturers – Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche – plus South Africa’s international GT stars Kelvin van der Linde and Jordan Pepper, who are both battling for outright victory.

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The Kyalami 9 Hour dates back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It was hotly contested by classic Porsche racers such as the 550 Spider, 908, 917 and 956, as well as the Ferrari 250 GTO and 512M. Back then champions such as Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass and David Piper raced fearlessly to victory. The new event promises to be a thrilling return to former glory.

This family-oriented event would not be possible without the enthusiastic co-operation of Toby Venter who is the owner of the Kyalami raceway.

“When Stéphane came to me with this suggestion, I did not hesitate in letting him know I was keen to get involved,” says Venter. “Kyalami has always been the stage for iconic motorsport events, and to have the Kyalami 9 Hour return here is truly special. It also adds a wonderful international event to the calendar that local families can come and enjoy.”

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‘Early bird’ tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased from http://www.kyalami9hour.com.