Hectic action expected at Killarney

With the peaceful backdrop of Table Mountain, the iconic Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town is going to anything but peaceful this weekend as it hosts the third round of the GTC Extreme Festival.

Headlining the action on circuit will be the national championship GTC races, with Audi’s Simon Moss keen to get back to winning ways after a double at Dezzi in March, followed by a win and a big crash at Zwartkops at the beginning of April.

To do that, however, he will have to see off the new Volkswagens of Keagan Masters and Daniel Rowe, as well as a strong challenge from local hero Johan Fourie’s privateer EPS BMW.

Following mixed results at the opening two rounds, Volkswagen GTC drivers Keagan Masters and Daniel Rowe still occupy second and third on the Drivers’ standings points table respectively. Masters is just three championship points behind the current leader with Rowe a further four points back.

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Collectively though, the pair has done enough to place the team in a very strong position as Volkswagen currently leads the Manufacturers’ race by a full 20 points from rivals Audi.

“So far the season has been very competitive. Both Keagan and Daniel have recorded podium finishes which earned the team a substantial amount of points, but neither have been able to win a race yet. This is something we would like to achieve in Cape Town,” commented Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport.

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In the GTC2 category of the series, the kind of performance that saw the Volkswagen Golf GTi dominate the past few years seems to continue, this time with youngster Bradley Liebenberg behind the wheel. The talented driver has enjoyed a clean sweep in the first two events by claiming both pole positions and all four race wins.

This performance has earned him a full house of 100 points after two race weekends. It gets better for the Volkswagen team as the Kyocera-backed GTi of teammate Adrian Wood is currently second in the standings and he has every intention to bring Liebenberg’s winning streak to an end.

Expect even closer racing in the one-make Falken Polo Cup, where Bradley Liebenberg’s early series lead will be under threat from a host of hungry young drivers in identical cars – a perfect recipe for motoring mayhem.

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The Falken Polo Cup has most definitely lived up to its reputation as the country’s most competive and exciting racing series after the first two rounds of the 2019 championship with a host of drivers all battling for victory.

But, no one has tasted victory more than Jeffrey Kruger. The defending champion claimed overall victory at Dezzi Raceway during Round 1, and followed it up with a near perfect weekend at Zwartkops that included two race wins from three starts to go with two fastest laps. The net result is a tally of 73 championship points, or 17 clear of his nearest rival, Bradley Liebenberg.

Liebenberg will once again have a busy weekend in Cape Town as he will continue to contest both the Falken Polo Cup as well as the GTC 2 series. The youngster will try to break Kruger’s winning streak while at the same time trying to maintain his own streak in GTC 2 where he has won every race so far this season.

Third on the points table is a former champion in the form of Chris Shorter, the only other driver than Kruger and Liebenberg to have won a race in 2019. The points table is a crowded place with Jason Campos, Clinton Bezuidenhout and Keegan Campos all within striking distance and rounding out the top six.

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For sheer speed and spectacle, however, there is nothing to touch the sports-racing prototypes and Extreme Supercars. A number of top Gauteng Supercar competitors, including Charl Arangies in his Aston Martin as well as assorted Ferraris and Lamborghinis, have served notice on Stuart White’s ultimate lap record of 1min06.745sec, set in a Ginetta G57 in March.

Expect fireworks when Gauteng’s fastest take on the Ginettas of the regional Pirelli Sports and GT Cars on their home turf.

Another lap record under threat is the 1min09.944 benchmark set by Clinton Seller in the SuperGP motorcycle class on a Yamaha R1 in March 2018. He’ll be trying to beat his own mark, but veteran Lance Isaacs (Supabets BMW S1000 RR) and local hero David ‘McFlash’ McFadden (RPM Centre ZX-10R) will have something to say about that.

The gates open at 6.30am, racing begins at 8:00am. Book at Computicket or pay at the gate: Adults R100, scholars under 16 R40 and children under 12 free.

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Q8 offers new tech, new design

The letter ‘Q’ used as name always reminds me of the famous character in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels – the mysterious man in the lab who produces the trick pens and other goodies the spy uses in his relentless pursuit of the baddies.

So, Audi’s halo model at the top of ‘Q’ range – the new Q8 – is, in its own way, a provider of hi-tech clever systems put together in a five-door luxury coupé-styled SUV.

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The Audi Q8 is large being 4,99 metres long, 2,00 metres wide and 1,71 metres tall, so the is wider, shorter and lower than its Q7 sister model. With a wheelbase of nearly 3,00 metres, it offers a spacious interior up to 1,755 litres of luggage space.

The Audi Q8 follows the design language that Audi first brought onto the road with the new A8 and and features the single frame grille in octagonal design.

The Audi Q8 is available in a choice of 12 colours: two solid paint finishes and 10 metallic or pearl effect shades including the new colour Dragon orange, which is exclusive to the Q8.

With as much as 254 millimetres of ground clearance, short overhangs, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and hill descent control, the Audi Q8 is no slouch off the tarmac and, suspension with damper control is standard.

Audi offers the adaptive air suspension with controlled damping as an option, with either comfort or sport setup. It adjusts the ride height depending on the driving situation and the driver’s preference by as much as 90 millimetres.

Besides the standard progressive steering, Audi also offers the option of all-wheel steering. It can turn the rear wheels as much as 5 degrees – counter to the direction of the turn at low speeds to increase agility and at higher speeds in the direction of the turn for better stability.

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The new Audi Q8 55 TFSI is equipped with a 3,0-litre six-cylinder spark-ignition engine that produces 250 kW. In the range from 1 370 r/min to 4 500 r/min, it develops a maximum torque of 500 Nm. Thanks to the turbo-charged petrol engine, the Audi Q8 sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 5,9 seconds. Its maximum speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h.

An additional engine variant in the form of a 3.0 TDI will be available in South Africa from mid-year 2019.

Claimed fuel consumption is between 8,9 l/100 km and 9,1 l/100 km with emissions between 207 g/km and 210 g/km.

The drive train efficiency is thanks mild hybrid technology (MHEV). The 48-volt main electrical system incorporates two important technology modules: a lithium-ion battery and a belt alternator starter. During braking, it can recover up to 12 kW of power and feed it back into the battery. The MHEV technology enables long coasting phases with the engine deactivated and a start-stop range that begins at 22 km/h. In customer operation, it reduces consumption by up to 0,7 l/100 km.

Inside, the central element is the top MMI touch response display. With its black-panel look, it almost dissolves into a large, black surface when switched off. In the dark, the contour light traces the distinctive design lines of the interior and provides backlight for the three-dimensionally lasered quattro badge above the glove compartment.

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The entry-level model seats are covered with cricket leather and then there is a choice of selections, which features Alcantara/ leather combination or Valcona leather. The customised contour seats can be covered in Cedar brown, Black, Metropolis Grey or Beige Valcona leather with contrasting piping. Customers who order the S line sport package get sport seats covered in Valcona leather with embossed S logo in the front seat backs. The S sport seats are also available in Valcona leather with a rhombus pattern and embossed rhombus S logo.

The Audi Q8 comes standard with parking aid plus with 360 degree display (surround view cameras) which makes it stress-free to manoeuvre in and out of parking spaces. The ‘night vision assist’ improves difficult visibility after dark. It uses an infrared camera to detect pedestrians and larger wild animals at great distances and marks them with a yellow frame in the Audi virtual cockpit.

The new Audi Q8 includes the functions of adaptive cruise control, and active lane assist, Audi pre-sense front including turn assist. The system detects lane markings, roadside structures, vehicles in adjacent lanes and vehicles driving ahead. The improved adaptive cruise assist slows and accelerates the Audi Q8 predictively by analysing sensor information, navigation data and traffic signs. It automatically adjusts to the current speed limit, reduces the speed before corners, during turning and on roundabouts.

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The emergency assist ensures safety in exceptional circumstances. It detects within system limits whether the driver is inactive and, in such cases, prompts them via visual and acoustic signals as well as brief activation of the brakes to retake active control. If this does not prompt a reaction, the system takes control of the Audi Q8 and automatically stops it in its own lane. This also activates the safety measures of Audi pre sense system.

As usual, the options list and package configuration for the car are a longer reading list than ‘War and Peace’ tbut The Audi Q8 55 TFSI quattro tiptronic will be priced at R1 388-million standard with the 5 year / 100 000 km Audi Freeway plan and inclusive of all taxes.

Palpable tension

Tension hangs heavy in the air as teams prepare for round 2 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy in Barcelona this weekend following the dramatic events of the opening round.

Events on the Yas Marina track and in the stewards’ room conspired to hand a maiden World RX victory to Kevin Hansen in the Team Hansen MJP Peugeot 208.

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That was after two of the leading protagonists – older brother Timmy Hansen and Andreas Bakkerud in the Monster Energy RX Cartel Audi S1 – had a high-speed coming together in Q3. Timmy’s Peugeot suffered event-ending damage while Bakkerud was disqualified for his part in the incident.

Timmy’s mechanics have worked tirelessly in the time since Abu Dhabi to have the No.21 Peugeot re-built, including repairs to the chassis and reconstructing sections of the roll cage in readiness for Barcelona and the Circuit de Catalunya.

There is spice to the battle between Norway’s Bakkerud and the Hansens, as witnessed in the pre-event press conference in Abu Dhabi. That carried over to the race track and is likely to continue this weekend.

The 1.135km rallycross layout at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona includes turns 11-15 of the Formula One track and comprises a 60-40% split of tarmac and gravel.

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So, the leaderboard entering the Spanish round, has Kevin at the top of the pile with 30 points, Niclas Gronholm, the provisional race winner in Abu Dhabi prior to a three-second penalty in the final, second on 26. The Finn drove strongly all weekend in his GRX Taneco Hyundai i20 including a semi-final win en route to the final.

Kevin clinched the Euro RX Supercar title at Barcelona in 2016 so knows his way around the circuit.

Team STARD Ford Fiesta driver Janis Baumanis and Timo Scheider in the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport Seat Ibiza are locked together on 20 points and likely to be among the challengers this time out.

Germany’s Scheider was the top qualifier in 2017 eventually finishing second to Mattias Ekstrom in the final. Barcelona was also the scene of Scheider’s World RX debut in 2015.

Hungary’s Krisztian Szabo, made an impressive World RX debut in Abu Dhabi, in his EKS Sport Audi, with fourth place. He lies fifth in the championship.

Liam Doran took his Monster Energy RX Cartel Audi S1 to a first World RX podium in Abu Dhabi, and is likely to be a contender again. The Briton prepared for the second round of World RX with victory in a Group B Retro Rallycross Championship race at Lydden Hill on Easter Monday.

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The 19-car field will also feature cycling royalty in the shape of Sir Chris Hoy. The six-time Olympic gold medallist will pilot the Xite Racing-prepared Ford Fiesta.

Following a recent test at Pembrey in Wales, Hoy, who has competed in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, and European Le Mans and British GT racing, is relishing the latest motorsport challenge.

“I want do the best job I can, make the most of the opportunity and have as much fun as I can and just soak up the experience,” he says.

Oliver Bennett will combine mentoring duties for Hoy with racing the Xite Racing Mini Cooper, repaired after a roll in Abu Dhabi.

GC Kompetition’s Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund narrowly missed the final at Yas Marina Circuit and will look to go make amends while the GCK Academy duo Cyril Raymond of France and Belgium’s Guillaume De Ridder will take learnings from their maiden World RX outings in the Renault Clios.

ESmotorsport – Labas GAS’s Rokas Baciuska, will look to build on the semi-final placing of his World RX debut in Abu Dhabi. Russia’s Timur Timerzyanov, partnering Gronholm in the GRX Taneco squad in the Hyundai i20, has a Barcelona podium on his CV from 2016 and is expected to run at the sharp end.

Hungary’s Tamas Karai will be at the wheel of the Karai Motorsport Audi A1 while Frenchman Herve Knapick competes in a Citroen DS3.

Also joining the line-up in a second Team STARD Ford Fiesta is the former works WRC driver and European Championship competitor Jani Paasonen, of Finland.

This weekend also sees the start of the RX2 International Series and the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600 the training ground for the next generation of World RX stars.

Barcelona is start of a busy few weeks for World RX. After Spain, there is one weekend’s break before Spa-Francochamps makes its debut in hosting the World RX of Benelux on May 11-12 with Silverstone’s SpeedMachine Festival to follow on the weekend of May 25-26.

Upgrades and new variants for Audi

Audi South Africa has introduced a wide range of specification changes and special edition models covering the A3, A5, Q2 and Q5 model variants.

The Audi A3 range gains two new special editions in its line-up, namely the Audi A3 Comfort Edition and A3 Black Edition.

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The Audi A3 Comfort Edition is applicable to only 30 TFSI (1,0-litre) engines. This special edition is aimed at providing comfort features with a cost-saving benefit to customers. The package includes a different design 17-inch wheel, partial leather upholstery, LED headlights, parking aid sensors in the front and rear, black headlining and a storage package for the interior.

The A3 Black Edition was designed to enhance the sporty exterior design of the Audi A3 range, adding high-gloss black trim elements to elevate its appeal. The Black Edition is only available on 35 TFSI (1,4-litre) and 40 TFSI (2,0-litre) engines and includes the following equipment: 18-inch alloy wheel, S line exterior body kit; high-gloss black styling package for the grille, front bumpers, rear diffuser and window trims, high-gloss black exterior mirrors, black headlining, partial leather upholstery, LED headlights and a storage package.

The Audi Q2 also gains a few product improvements in the form of new standard equipment, a new engine and a Black Edition for certain engine derivatives.

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For model year 2019 vehicles, the Audi Q2 gets LED headlights, rear parking aid, deluxe automatic air-conditioning and the Audi sound system (balanced stereo sound on all seats, 10 speakers including centre speaker and subwoofer, 6-channel amplifier with a total output of 180 watts).

A 35 TFSI 110kW (1,4-litre) engine in base trimline specification has also been added to the line-up of engines, whereas previously this engine was only available in Sport trimline specification. This model will retail for R 499 000 and completes the range of derivatives available for the Audi Q2.

The Black Edition is only available on the 30 TFSI Sport (1,0-litre) and 35 TFSI Sport (1,4-litre) engines and has high-gloss black visual differentiators when compared to the normal Sport models.
The Black Edition gains:
• 19-inch Rotor design alloy wheel in black
• High-gloss black styling package for the grille, front bumpers, rear diffuser and window trims
• High-gloss black mirror housings
• High-gloss black C-pillar blade
• Audi drive select and black headlining for the interior

The Audi A5 range, comprising of Coupé, Sportback and Cabriolet body styles, now features parking sensors in the front and rear, LED headlights and the Audi music interface as standard.

In also gains two special edition models to its line-up in the form of an Offroad Edition and a Black Edition.

The Offroad Edition enhances the offroad look of the Audi Q5 giving it a more powerful appearance. The Audi Genuine Accessories Offroad styling kit showcases a front and rear bumper underbody in Selenite Silver and wheel arches and sill in Stone Grey metallic.

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In addition, it also features a wheel upgrade from 17-inch to 19-inch wheels and LED headlights to provide enhanced exterior styling. The Offroad Edition is only available on Q5 entry trimline engine derivatives and comes with a 35% cost saving benefit to customers.

Available exclusively on Q5 Sport models the Black Edition offers the Audi Q5 a fresh look and appeal. Featuring a 20-inch wheel; S line exterior body kit; high-gloss black styling package for the window trims, grille, front bumper and rear diffuser and high-gloss black mirror housings and roof rails.

Tough times at Zwartkops

Despite a coming together with the VW Motorsport Golf of Daniel Rowe in the final heat, Simon Moss kept himself and All Power Audi at the top of the Global Touring Cars Africa Championship (GTC) with a pole position and one race win in the second round of the series at Zwartkops Raceway at the weekend.

On the Friday morning, the Audi team appeared for the first time in a new colour scheme from their title sponsor, All Power, and both black and yellow Audi S3’s were baptised with torrential rain in the opening sessions. With the possibility of rain throughout the weekend, Simon Moss and Tschops Sipuka maximised their track time without taking excessive risks.

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The sun appeared on Saturday morning ahead of qualifying and, with some additional overnight work by the Audi team, it was back to business. Moss confidently took his second consecutive pole position of the season, while Sipuka surprised the field by taking a credible second row, third spot on the grid.

Moss, utilised his pole position to the max and took an instant lead when the lights turned green to build up an impressive 4,5 second lead, and his third win of the season.

The reversed grid second race always poses a challenge and risk for the leaders of the pack – in this case the Audi Team. Simon Moss, starting from the back of the field wanted to repeat his Dezzi Raceway spectacle but on the opening lap he had an encounter with Daniel Rowe (VW Motorsport), in which he damaged his GTC Audi and had to retire. Sipuka stayed clear of all the carnage and gained four positions during the 12 lap race. He scored another fourth position, giving him an equal position in the overall standings.

It was a mixed bag Volkswagen Motorsport’s Global Touring Car outfit but even so, the team left Pretoria as the overall points leader on the manufacturer’s points table while its two drivers Masters and Rowe are both within striking distance of the top spot on the driver’s table.

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The team’s domination of the GTC2 category continued with a clean sweep of victories for Bradley Liebenberg.

A fourth and fifth on the grid after the early morning qualifying session for Daniel Rowe and Keagan Masters was not ideal, but the two teammates knew it was how they would finish in the two races that counted. Rowe made a great start in race one to move into third position before finally crossing the line in second. He was followed by teammate Masters who ended race one in third position.

The first lap of the second race however caused havoc throughout the field. Daniel Rowe was near the front of the field but contact between himself and the Audi sent him off the track and into the kitty litter. With Moss then crashing out of the race a few corners later, the organisers were forced to red flag the race while the cars were recovered from the circuit.

Quick thinking by the Volkswagen crew saw them sending Rowe’s Jetta out on track just in time as the race restarted to collect the valuable points that come with a race finish.

Meanwhile at the front of the field, it was Masters who closed in on the leaders. But the young man ran out of laps and crossed the finish line to claim his second third placed finish of the day.

In the GTC series, the total times for both races are added up to determine the overall winners on the day, and when the calculations were made, Masters missed out on the overall victory by one single second while Rowe’s recovery earned him the points that came with sixth overall.

“I had a good and consistent day, exactly what you need as far as the overall championship is concerned,” said Masters after the day’s racing.

Rowe on the other hand was somewhat disappointed. “We had a great first race and I had made up a lot of positions on the first lap of race two when I got taken out. Even so, I’m happy the team managed to get me back on track and I still earned valuable championship points.”

It was a weekend of mixed results for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Michael van Rooyen, after setting some of the fastest times on the Friday, despite the wet weather that dampened proceedings for most of the competitors.

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“I relish racing in poor weather conditions,” said Van Rooyen of the Friday sessions. “Everything just felt right, and I managed to set some really fast times.”
But then, during official qualifying, Van Rooyen experienced brake issues, and as a result he posted the seventh-fastest time on the day – 1.1s off the pace set by Audi’s Simon Moss.

“It was extremely disappointing to qualify so far down the grid,” said the Corolla driver. “Especially after such a good show during practice. The worst was that we weren’t sure where the problems lay, and couldn’t quite get it sorted for Race 1.”

Despite the short track, which traditionally offers limited passing opportunities, Van Rooyen managed to improve from 7th on the grid to 5th place by the end of the first race. And things improved markedly for Race 2.

“The reverse grid gave us the opportunity to score some points, and the Corolla certainly didn’t disappoint,” said Van Rooyen. “I started in the middle of the pack, and again moved up two positions.”

It took just two laps for the Corolla driver to go from fourth on the grid to second place, but the race was red-flagged due to a crash further back. As a result, the race was restarted, and Van Rooyen had to do it all again. The Rustenburger proved that his success earlier was no fluke, by again moving up two spots soon after the restart.

This saw the Toyota Gazoo Racing SA driver take the chequered flag in second place, securing a third place in the overall standings for the day. Privateer Johan Fourie, in the BMW M2 took the overall win; with Volkswagen’s Keagan Masters finishing the day in second place.

Round 3 of the 2019 GTC is set to take place on May 11, at Killarney in Cape Town. “We’ll make 100% certain that the brakes are suited for the Cape, and we’re hoping to score more meaningful points on the next round,” concluded Van Rooyen.

Top racers confirmed

Eighteen of the world’s top rallycross drivers and nine different marques will be making the trip to Cape Town for the start of the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney Raceway on November 24/25.

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Kids under 12 are free, and there is loads of off-track entertainment, such as the majestic Silver Falcons Air Show and the Monster Energy Rig.

Current World Champion Johan Kristoffersson, who drives a factory-developed Volkswagen Polo Supercar for Team PSRX Volkswagen, tops the entry list. The Swede currently tops the 2018 Championship Leaderboard, intent on defending his 2017 title.

Compatriots Robin Larsson of Olsbergs MSE, Mattias Ekström of EKS Audi Sport, Timmy Hansen of Team Peugeot Total and his brother Kevin of Team Peugeot-Hansen are also in the mix, ensuring Sweden maintains a strong presence on the Cape track.

French legend Sebastien Loeb of Team Peugeot Total is the world’s most successful rally driver and will be looking to add to the six podiums he took in 2017, but he will have stiff competition at Killarney from Latvian champion Janis Baumanis of Team Stard and the highly experienced Russian Timur Timerzyanov of the GRX Taneco Team. All three are currently neck-and-neck in this year’s top 10.

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Kristoffersson’s racing partner, Norwegian Petter Solberg will also be here, as will fellow countryman Andreas Bakkerud of EKS Audi Sport and the rising young Finn Niclas Grönholm of GRX Taneco Team.

Making up the rest of the pack are GC Kompetition drivers Guerlain Chicherit and Anton Marklund, ALL-INKL.COM Munnich 77 drivers Timo Schedier and Rene Munnich, Gregoire Demoustier of Sebastien Loeb Racing, Oliver Bennett of Oliver Bennett and Kevin Eriksson of Olsbergs MSE.

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On Thursday, November 22 the World Rallycross Parade makes its way from the back of the Table Bay Hotel to the Amphitheatre at the V&A Waterfront where drivers, including Kristoffersson, Loeb and Solberg, will be signing autographs at a special meet and greet.
Official Drivers Entry List
# Driver                           Nat   Car                                                     Competitor                  Nat
1 Johan Kristoffersson SWE VW Polo R PSRX                               Volkswagen Sweden SWE
4 Robin Larsson            SWE Ford Fiesta                                         Olsbergs MSE             SWE
5 Mattias Ekstrom         SWE Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                  EKS Audi Sport           SWE
6 Janis Baumanis          LAT Ford Fiesta                                          Team Stard                  AUT
7 Timur Timerzyanov RUS Hyundai i20 GRX                                Taneco Team               FIN
9 Sebastien Loeb           FRA Peugeot 208 WRX                               Team Peugeot Total  FRA
11 Petter Solberg          NOR VW Polo R PSRX                                 Volkswagen Sweden SWE
13 Andreas Bakkerud NOR Audi S1 EKS RX quattro                     EKS Audi Sport          SWE
21 Timmy Hansen       SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                                Team Peugeot Total  FRA
36 Guerlain Chicherit FRA Renault Megane RS                              GC Kompetition         FRA
42 Oliver Bennett        GBR Mini Cooper                                           Oliver Bennett          GBR
44 Timo Schedier         DEU Seat Ibiza                                              ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
66 Gregoire Demoustier BEL Peugeot 208                                   Sebastien Loeb Racing FRA
68 Niclas Gronholm    FIN Hyundai i20 GRX                                 Taneco Team               FIN
71 Kevin Hansen         SWE Peugeot 208 WRX                              Team Peugeot-Hansen SWE
77 Rene Munnich         DEU Seat Ibiza                                             ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport                                                                                                                                  DEU
92 Anton Marklund  SWE Renault Megane RS                                        GC Kompetition FRA
96 Kevin Eriksson     SWE Ford Fiesta                                                Olsbergs MSE          SWE

Slight improvement

For the first time in four years total vehicle sales in South Africa for the year have gone up with 2017 showing a 1,8% percent improvement over 2016.

The new vehicle industry ended 2017 on a positive note, according to the annual sales data from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa).  Despite December 2017’s year-on-year sales declining 2,4%, the year-to-date new car sales for 2017 still grew 1,8%. In total, 557 586 new vehicles were sold in South Africa during 2017.

“The new vehicle market’s positive performance for the last year was almost exactly in line with our forecast of 1.74% growth,” says Rudolf Mahoney, Head of Brand and Communications, WesBank. “This can be attributed to the Rand being resilient in the face of volatility and the South African economy performing better than anticipated. However, the economy is still underperforming and faces a long road to recovery.”

In the second half of 2017, OEMs were able to stave off price increases as the Rand firmed against foreign currencies. This allowed manufacturers to pass value back to consumers through very attractive marketing incentives when purchasing new vehicles.

WesBank’s data for 2017 also reflected the continued shift back to the new vehicle market, especially when measuring demand through the number of vehicle finance applications received. Demand for new vehicles rose 6,4% in December, while demand for used vehicles slowed 0,2%. Overall, demand for new vehicles grew 3% in 2017, while demand for used vehicles declined 1,5%.

Since the introduction of the Polo and Polo Vivo in 2010, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has been passenger market leader every year. The Volkswagen Group ended the year with 80 308  sales giving VWSA a total market share of 21,8%, with the Volkswagen brand achieving 18,9% share in a run out year of its volume models.

“The Polo Vivo and Polo remained the first and second best-selling passenger cars in 2017, which is also for the seventh consecutive year – this is an incredible achievement for the Volkswagen brand considering that we effectively ran out of supply in December of the key models which is illustrated by the unusually low 14,8% market share we achieved in December,” says VWSA Chairman and Managing Director Thomas Schaefer.

“I am delighted by the performance of both the Volkswagen and Audi brands in 2017 and know that we will do even better in 2018”,

Volkswagen will be launching the new Polo later this month which will be followed by the Polo Vivo still in this quarter.

According to Naamsa, export sales recorded a decline in December, 2017 and at 17 374 units reflected a fall of 1 333 vehicles or 7,1% compared to the 18 707 vehicles exported during December, 2016.  This was largely attributable to the effect of model run out and new model introduction of the new VW Polo range in 2018.

Annual aggregate annual industry sales by sector, since 2014, were as follows –

 

Sector

 

2014 2015 2016 2017 2017 / 2016

% Change

Cars 438 938 412 478 361 264 368 068 +1.9%
Light Commercials 173 492 174 701 159 283 163 346 +2.6%
Medium Commercials 10 780 10 394 8 315 7 785 -6.4%
Heavy Trucks,  Buses 20 534 20 075 18 685 18 387 -1.6%
Total Vehicles 643 744 617 648 547 547 557 586 1.8%

Source:  Lightstone Auto, NAAMSA

Whilst the modest improvement was welcome, the figures should be seen in the context of industry sales 11 years ago when the domestic market recorded an all-time high sales number of 714 314 units of which the new car market had represented 481 558 vehicles.

2017 Vehicle exports represented the third highest annual Industry export figure on record and total vehicle exports at 329 053 units were down on the 344 820 vehicles exported in 2016 – a decline of 15 767 units or a fall of 4,6%.

2017 Industry export sales data, compared to previous years, were as follows –

  2015 2016 2017 2017 / 2016

% Change

Cars 229 723 238 547 221 928 -7.0%
Light Commercials 103 000 105 219 106 126 +0.9%
Trucks & Buses 1 124 1 054 999 -5.2%
Total Exports 333 847 344 820 329 053 -4.6%

Source:  Lightstone Auto, NAAMSA

South African financial markets have reacted positively to the outcome of the December, 2017 ANC elective conference.  However, economic and fiscal policy uncertainty, political challenges, the risk of further credit rating downgrades and increasing geo-political tensions make forecasting difficult.

On the positive side, several recent economic indicators support the view the South African economy is performing better than anticipated despite low levels of business and consumer confidence.  Barring a further credit rating downgrade, an improvement in economic growth from about 1,0% in 2017 to around 1,9% in 2018 remains possible and this would lend support to new vehicle sales in the domestic market.

The substantial improvement in the Reserve Bank’s leading indicator of economic activity heralds improved economic prospects. Also on an encouraging note, the positive global economic environment – with International Monetary Fund projections of 3,7% global expansion – will lend support to industry export sales.

Faster economic growth remains an imperative to address South Africa’s socio-economic challenges and to take pressure off strained public finances and overburdened taxpayers.  In this context, concerted steps are needed by Business, Government and Labour to create a more investor-friendly environment as a means of boosting growth.

NAAMSA anticipates further modest improvement in domestic new vehicle sales during 2018 as well as further growth in vehicle exports and industry production numbers.

The outlook for 2018 in terms of Industry domestic vehicle sales by sector

 

Sector

 

2015 2016 2017 2018 Projected
Cars 412 478 361 264 368 068 375 000
Light Commercials 174 701 159 283 163 346 170 000
Medium Commercials 10 394 8 315 7 785 8 000
Heavy, Extra Heavy, Commercials, Buses 20 075 18 685 18 387 19 000
Total Vehicles 617 648 547 547 557 586 572 000