The gloves are off in WRX

If ever the expression ‘the gloves are off’ had meaning, it will this weekend in Latvia when the penultimate round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy takes centre stage at the Neste World RX.

The three main characters are separated by just two points, so there is all to play for in the Bikernieki forest on the outskirts of the Latvian capital of Riga.

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Monster Energy RX Cartel’s Andreas Bakkerud rose to the top of the standings at the previous round in Loheac, France. The Norwegian has 160 points and holds a two-point cushion over the Hansen brothers Timmy and Kevin, who are tied on 158.

The 2019 championship as proven to be one of the most closely-fought seasons ever with six different winners from the eight rounds to date. Only Timmy, with three victories, is a multiple winner this year.

The Swedish siblings had been trading the lead of the drivers’ championship standings prior to Loheac where Bakkerud ascended the summit despite a win for Timmy and third place for Kevin in the French final.

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With just two rounds remaining, all three of the leading protagonists could claim the title – a point not lost on Bakkerud who has called up reinforcements in the shape of Mattias Ekstrom, the 2016 World RX champion.

“I’ve brought Mattias (Ekstrom) with me to be my personal coach to help me go faster,” he says. “Hopefully that can make a difference. The start line in Riga is very slippery which makes it very tough to hit the right revs and make consistently good starts so we’ll focus on that.”

Bakkerud admits he will have his work cut out this weekend against the duel threat of the Hansens.

“Riga has never been my strongest World RX event on the calendar, but I’ve always been a huge fan of going there. It’s been cool to witness the popularity of the sport growing there and also to see all their fans. This year I hope I can go faster at the racetrack itself.”

As for Timmy, Riga is a favourite venue and the Swede believes his Peugeot 208 will be suited to the layout.

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“I like the circuit and the car has a good record there. I hope we have a good chance this weekend,” he says.

“It’s a great track for our car. Seb (Loeb) won here back in 2016 and we have always been fast here. Of course I hope to win again this weekend. I will focus on finding a good rhythm on the track to get 100% out of myself all the way from Q1 to the final.”

As for the championship, Timmy is not looking beyond Riga.

“The championship is very close, so it will take a great weekend to stay in the fight. That’s really all I’m thinking about right now, to drive a good race in Riga.”

Kevin, meanwhile, sees the technical character of the circuit as a major challenge and is mindful of the forecast for rain this weekend.

“Riga is a tight and technical track, which is quite fun and complex: you could call it our Monaco Grand Prix,” he says.

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“It’s important to take a very precise line and look after the tyres carefully: in other words not too much sliding with the throttle wide open. The main thing is to make sure that you are spending more time moving forwards than moving sideways.

“What’s going to make it particularly complicated this weekend is that we’re expecting quite a lot of rain, so it’s going to be even more important than usual to keep everything clean and tidy. It’s a nice day today, so it seems quite hard to believe, but it’s fairly common in Riga to have mixed conditions, so we need to be prepared for everything.”

Local hopes at World RX level rest with Team STARD’s Janis Baumanis and Reinis Nitiss, who drives one of three Hyundai i20s for GRX Taneco alongside the Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov.

Baumanis’s consistent performances this season have propelled him to fifth in the standings on 120 points. He has appeared in five finals and reached the podium twice – third in Norway and second in Canada.

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For Baumanis, who has a best finish of fifth in 2017 in Riga, adulation and expectation comes in equal measure. “After a year we are back in Riga, one of the most important – and the most stressful events on the calendar for me,” he said.

“The atmosphere is fantastic and makes it very special for me and my fans. This will be the fourth year in Riga so obviously everyone knows the track by now. I hope to do my best for the home fans. I can’t wait for Saturday morning to get going.”

Nitiss, who makes his third appearance of the year after featuring in the opening round in Abu Dhabi and finishing second in Sweden despite rolling his Hyundai i20 in Q1 on Saturday, is also looking forward to his home race.

He has fond memories of clinching the Euro RX title at this venue last year.

“Home events are always more challenging – you have all your friends and fans in grandstands cheering for you, so naturally the pressure grows,” he says.

“Bikernieki is an iconic, old-school motor sport complex with so much racing history. For me the relatively new rallycross track has a special meaning – I have been involved in the making of the circuit and was one of the very first drivers to try it out even before it was fully completed.

“It is hard to describe the feelings that hit you when you see all the people in the grandstands standing up and cheering for you.

“With a limited racing programme this year, the stakes are high – but I know that together with the GRX team I have the speed. It’s proven by the fastest lap in Abu Dhabi and the podium finish in Sweden.

“To succeed in my home race, I will need to focus even more, prepare even more and be calmer than ever, not to overdo it, but to keep my head straight and aim for the best result.”

Gronholm, fourth in the standings on 135 points despite missing two rounds this year through illness, finished fourth in last year’s Riga final, his best result of the season.

“Once again, we showed great pace in Loheac, especially on Sunday when we were really up there, but the final didn’t go our way. Last year here was my best race of the year, so I think we can expect a good race for us,” the Finn said.

“There will be a lot of Finns cheering for me and our team so I want to deliver and show them what we can do.”

Another incentive for GRX is the teams’ title, according to team manager Jussi Pinomaki.

“The fight for P1 in Teams’ championship is still wide open and we will focus on every detail to succeed in this race.”

There is added spice to the weekend with comments by ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport’s Timo Scheider after the previous round in France. At the centre of the German’s ire was Lithuania’s Rokas Baciuska, who reached his first World RX final at Loheac.

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Scheider was aggrieved by the GC Kompetition driver’s aggression in their semi-final, claiming the contact he had with the Renault Megane cost him a place in the final.

“Everything went well, until in the semi-finals once again an over-motivated stupid boy has messed up my clear entry into the final,” was the German’s view on social media.

Scheider was mighty with his launches in Loheac – recording a reaction time off the line of 0,75. He was P3 overnight after day one and P6 overall after Q4 but the contact with Baciuska in the semi-final ended his participation for the weekend.

Doubtless he will look to put that right in Riga in an upgraded Seat Ibiza which he believes is now capable of mixing it with the front-runners.

GC Kompetition’s Anton Marklund, second in Loheac, aims to keep the momentum going for the French squad.

“The Bikernieki track was where I had my first test with the GCK Megane RS RX after the race weekend last year. Hopefully we can bring the good momentum from the last races in to this round. I’m really looking forward to racing in front of the Latvian crowd,” the Swede said.

GCK team boss, Guerlain Chicherit, is seeking a strong all-round performance from the team in Latvia.

“With Latvia RX the last race in Europe of the FIA World Rallycross Championship calendar, I’m really looking forward to bringing the team of five cars and drivers to the Latvian crowd and race in front of all the fans before heading to South Africa,” he said.

“It’ll be an exciting weekend of race action with some awesome fights for sure. We look to continue to up our performance from the last races and bag strong points for GCK.”

GCK Academy’s Cyril Raymond, meanwhile, is focussed on the Bikernieki circuit’s technical challenges.

“Latvia RX is one of the hardest circuits in the calendar for me. The track is really picturesque especially when you are driving in the forest but very technical. Our Clio will be more efficient on this type of track,” he said.

His team-mate Guilaume De Ridder goes in search of a long overdue change of fortune as does Britain’s Oliver Bennett who has completed repairs on the Xite Racing Mini Cooper after an off in Q4 at Loheac.

Sweden’s Robin Larsson, who clinched the FIA European Rallycross Championship at Loheac, joins the World RX grid for Riga.

Larsson will be at the wheel of a JC Raceteknik Audi S1 along with fellow Audi drivers Bakkerud and Monster Energy RX Cartel team-mate Liam Doran and EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo.

Larsson, who competed in World RX in 2014 and 2015, said: “I’ve obviously raced in World RX before, but it will be a little special to make this jump when the World RX drivers are in a really tight fight in the championship.

“It will be exciting to see how we stand against the World RX guys now. I think you can raise your own level even more when you are fighting to keep up, so maybe we can close the gap more too. The goal is to at least make the semi-finals, and use this as a good event to check our pace.”

There is another outing for Matvey Furazhkin in the ES Motorsport – Labas GAS Skoda Fabia following his World RX debut at Loheac the previous round.

“The weekend in Loheac was one of the best of my career. The level of racing was impressive. The car felt really competitive and working with such a professional team is very motivating,” the Russian said.

“Now we are preparing for the Riga event and the main goal for this race will be to improve results from the previous race weekend. I can’t wait to be in the car again and push the limits.”

Norway’s Pal Try makes his third start of the season in the second Team STARD Fiesta alongside Baumanis.

Next stop – Cape Town.

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.

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