AA Kyalami penultimate round preview

Vodacom Power Tour battleground switches to AA Kyalami. A switch in battleground venues will do nothing to water down the intensity of end of season South African championship battles that will be fought out at AA Kyalami in November. The ...

AA Kyalami penultimate round preview

Vodacom Power Tour battleground switches to AA Kyalami.

A switch in battleground venues will do nothing to water down the intensity of end of season South African championship battles that will be fought out at AA Kyalami in November.

The penultimate round of the Vodacom Power Tour, scheduled for the Phakisa Raceway in Welkom, has been switched to AA Kyalami on November 2. The final round of the tour will be run at the Midrand complex on November 23, and both meetings will be high intensity affairs with a number of title chases in various categories looking set to go all the way to the final race of the season.

The November 2 meeting will cater for the Wesbank V8 Championship, SA Production Cars, Vodacom Sports Cars, Formula Ford, the Engen VW Cup and South African Superbikes. It is an enticing menu of modified and standard saloon cars, sports cars, singleaseaters and motorcycles -- with fluid championship positions adding to the overall recipe.

As usual there will be open and official practice and qualifying sessions on November 1. The first race is scheduled for 10h30 on November 2 with gate admission R35 per adult with children under 12 free.

Wesbank V8 Championship

Wunderkind Johan Fourie has finally hit the front in the Wesbank V8 championship, and mentor Sarel van der Merwe will be hoping to wrap up the championship without having to go back to AA Kyalami on November 23 to finalise formalities.

Fourie, in the Sasol Supervan Racing Opel Astra, has a 12-point advantage over veteran Ben Morgenrood (Auto Trader Ford Mustang) at the top of the points table. Roelf du Plessis (Chev Camaro) is a further 29 points adrift but such has been Fourie's domination since entering the fray, one would expect the hugely talented Capetonian to wrap up matters.

Fourie missed a couple of early rounds in the series but, with a little help from Shaun Watson-Smith, has swept all before him since then. Team orders apply in the Supervan squad and Watson-Smith's role will be a support one for Fourie.

That makes life even more difficult for the likes of Morgenrood, du Plessis, Larry Wilford in the Fuchs Ford Mustang and the rest of the field. The likes of Hennie Groenewald (Ford Mustang), Melville Priest (Ford Mustang) and Riaan Botma, in another Mustang entry, are all vastly capable -- but van der Merwe has done a Ferrari on the rest of the field and the best car and the best driver look set to get the championship job done.

Current championship positions: 1 J Fourie 248; 2 B Morgenrood 236; 3 R du Plessis 207; 4 L Wilford 194; 5 F de Matteo 148.

SA Production Cars

The majority of championship issues in the SA Production Car Championship are still wide open, and the stage is set for two more races of frenetic action.

Shaun van der Linde (Castrol Van der Linde Racing BMW) has wrapped up the Class A championship ahead of team-mates Mike Briggs and brother Etienne. The former Touring Car champion, however, is under some pressure from Charl Wilken (Castrol Team Toyota Corolla) in the overall drivers championship.

Only 13 points separate van der Linde and Wilken in what is now a straight fight for the title. The pressure is on with van der Linde having to fend of the likes of brother Etienne, Briggs, the BMWs of Regardt Roets, Richard Sorenson and Hennie Groenewald and the big Ford Falcon XR8 of Steve Wyndham.

Wilken, for his part, has a handy lead over Martin Steyn (Flatron Honda) in Class B  and needs 14 points to clinch a title he won in 1999. But, like van der Linde, he has to gather in every point possible in terms of the overall championship and Wilken will also be under pressure from Steyn and Mark Cronje, in the second Team Castrol Toyota Corolla, who are separated by only one point.

Championship battles don't come any closer than the one in Class C involving Honda Ballade pair Ian Long and Lawrence Boshoff. The pair are locked together with the same number of points with the class not short of drivers like Iain Pepper, Curt Alchin, Doug Reekie, Hector North and Mike O'Sullivan, all of them in Honda Ballades, who could run interference.

The Junior Drivers championship affects drivers in Classes D and E and here just 10 points separate the top four -- Jody Powell (Opel Corsa), Dave Compton (Toyota Tazz), Philip Kekana (Sasol Toyota Tazz) and Darren Murphy in a VW Citi Golf. Miguel Pasqualli (Honda Ballade) is also not out of the picture and it is going to be a case of survival of the fittest.

Kekana had a dreadful day last time out at Zwartkops but still leads Class D by five points from Pasqualli with Dawie de Villiers (Daihatsu Sirion) back in the hunt. Compton, like Kekana, suffered at Zwartkops and he now trails Powell by three points in Class E.

With so much at stake for so many  -   prepare for drama.

Current championship positions:

SA Production Car Overall: 1 S van der Linde 129; 2 C Wilken 113; 3 I Long and L Boshoff 87; 4 M Steyn 86; 5 M Cronje 85.

Junior Drivers: 1 J Powell 78; 2 D Compton 73; 3 P Kekana 71; 4 D Murphy 68; 5 M Pasqualli 66.

Class A: 1 S van der Linde 129; 2 M Briggs 80; 3 E van der Linde 56.
Class B: 1 C Wilken 113; 2 M Steyn 86; 3 M Cronje 85.
Class C: 1 I Long and L Boshoff 87; 2 C Alchin 67.
Class D: 1 P Kekana 71; 2 M Pasqualli 66; 3 D de Villiers 63.
Class E: 1 J Powell 76; 2 D Compton 73; 3 D Murphy 68.

Vodacom Sports Cars

Veteran Bernard Tilanus (Platinum Asset Management Shelby CanAm Nissan) will be hoping to get his championship drive back on track in what should be a highly competitive Vodacom Sports Car outing.

An unhappy day at Zwartkops last time out saw Tilanus starting to slip into the clutches of Neil Lobb (DK Woodcraft Shelby CanAm Nissan) and Donovan Roscoe. Tilanus now leads Lobb by 19 points with Roscoe another five points in arrears, and the veteran who won his first national title 28 years ago will be out to earn some breathing space in what could turn into a nail biting finale.

Tilanus has a number of factors in his favour, not the least of them experience, but in Lobb, Roscoe, defending champion George Ferreira, Alan Eve, Francois Gerber and Melville Priest he comes up against tough opposition. There is not going to be much in it between the top half a dozen drivers -- with all of them capable of winning -- but that 19 point lead is another factor that will work in favour of Tilanus in the final rounds.

It is a situation that could be said to be character building -- but at nearly 60 it is an experience Tilanus could do without.

Championship positions: 1 B Tilanus 231; 2 N Lobb 212; 3 D Roscoe 207; 4 G Ferreira 171; 5 A Eve 163.

Formula Ford

If Morne Jurgens wears a broader grin than most other competitors at AA Kyalami, it will simply be because the Boksburg driver has already wrapped up this year Formula Ford championship.

Jurgens (Jurgens Truck Mygale) did the trick last time out at Aldo Scribante, and will be able to enjoy an outing without any pressure. The pressure will shift onto Brett Mayberry and Stephen Morris, with both of them out in Mygales, who are separated by just seven points in the race for second and third in the championship.

Mark du Toit (Big Z Racing Van Diemen) slipped out of the championship reckoning over the latter part of the season, but will want to keep Jurgens, Mayberry and Morris honest. Young Gavin Cronje came into the championship late in the ex Tannith Gardner Van Diemen but has proved capable of winning races, and although the championship has been settled the Formula Ford brigade could come up with a pair of highly entertaining races.

Championship positions: 1 M Jurgens 117; 2 B Mayberry 71; 3 S Morris 64; 4 M du Toit 48; 5 G Cronje 33.

Engen VW Cup

Transkei driver Tschops Sipuka is poised to put the finishing touches to winning the Engen VW Cup in what would be an historic title.

Sipuka has a 26 point lead over Silvio Scribante with defending champion Graham Nathan now 37 points in arrears. Michael Stephen and Jesse Huggett, fourth and fifth in the championship, have not yet reached the 100 point mark so it looks to be a cut and dried situation where Sipuka is concerned.

Sipuka will have mentor Terry Moss sitting in the wings at AA Kyalami, and will no doubt be under strict orders to keep a cool head and simply gather in the outstanding points that will finally put the issue beyond doubt.

Latest points: 1 S Sipuka 186; 2 S Scribante 165; 3 G Nathan 149; 4 M Stephen 85; 5 J Huggett 67.

SA Superbike Championship

The South African Superbike Championship is one of those series that, each year, you do not want to end.

No championship in recent years has consistently produced such a high standard of racing and entertainment, and this year has been no exception. In recent outings the championship issue has been almost reduced to a two horse race between multiple champion Russell Wood (Vodacom Nashua Yamaha) and fellow KwaZulu-Natalian Trevor Crookes on the UUNET Ducati. Only 12 points separate Wood and Crookes, but former champion Stewart Macleod (Cell C Suzuki) now trails the latter by 45 points, and that effectively makes it a straight fight between a rider who has national championships coming out of ears and one who should probably have more titles to his name.

Be that as it may the confrontation between Wood and Crookes on November 2 has the makings of a classic. One of the secrets behind Wood's perennial success is that while he may not be the fastest rider out on the track on any given day, he is certainly the most tactically aware and is top of the class when it comes to the mind games that are part and parcel of motorsport.

An endearing quality among motorcycle racers, too, is that Wood won't be riding simply for points. He will be out to win -- as will everyone else in the field -- and the quality of the racing will have a familiar touch of the dramatic about it.

November 2 probably offers Crookes a last throw of the dice. He will be keen to pick up maximum points and hope that problems befall Wood, but there are one or two other riders who could upset  their applecart.

Macleod is one of them, along with team-mate Greg Dreyer who dropped right out of contention after a disappointing latter half of the season. Noel Haarhoff (Dewalt Suzuki) has shown a lot maturity this season, and is now fourth in the championship and leading the privateers series by a mile.

Haarhoff will be looking for a good result on a circuit where he usually goes well, and regular followers of the Superbike series will be looking for good performances from a couple of the younger riders. Hudson Kennaugh (Suzuki Young Guns), Jason Wessels (UUNET Ducati) and First Technology Honda pair Arushen Moodley and Alex Laenarts have had their moments, but have perhaps not been as consistent as they should have been.

Latest points: 1 R Wood 291; 2 T Crookes 279; 3 S Macleod 234; 4 N Haarhoff 167; 5 G Dreyer 163. Privateers: 1 N Haarhoff 316; 2 G Ramsey 241; 3 R Cragg 206.

-aa racing-

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