Johannesburg - After its major overhaul Kyalami is set to host its long-awaited return to the racing calendar this weekend.
The three-day Kyalami Motorsport Festival, powered by Cell C, promises a line-up of over 300 entries - the largest entry in Kyalami’s history. There will be 11 separate racing categories, tackling a total of 27 races between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon.
Top billing on the weekend will belong to the Sasol Global Touring Car Championship brigade, with the man to beat title leader Michael Stephen in his Engen Xtreme Audi A3. His challengers will be Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW), Simon Moss (Engen Xtreme Audi A3), Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW), Hennie Groenewald (Sasol BMW), Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW), plus works Volkswagen Jetta drivers Mathew Hodges and Graeme Nathan.
Adding excitement to proceedings will be races for G&H Transport Extreme Supercars, with no fewer than 44 exotic vehicles including Charl Arangies (Stradale Lamborghini Galardo), Toby Venter (Porsche 911 GTR), Craig Jarvis (Panacea Ferrari 430), and Sav Gualteri (BMW F30).
Returning to Kyalami in style, and capable of setting the venue’s overall lap record by the end of the weekend, will be the SAMCAR V8 Supercar category. Front runners should include Franco di Matteo (Varta Batteries Jaguar), Mackie Adlem (Mapogo Jaguar), and Ben Morgenrood (Ford Mustang). Backing the Supercars will be races for V8 Masters cars.
The Engen Volkswagen Cup category will field 20 cars, with the title chase balanced on a knife-edge. Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Polo) leads the standings but five other drivers are still in the championship hunt.
Single seaters will be represented by the Investchen Formula 1600s, while the Dunlop Thunderbike, Silverton Nut & Bolt / SUB 10 Superbike motorcycles, and Kawasaki Masters events will provide the two-wheeled action.
The SKF Legends of the 9-Hour races will bring nostalgia to the party, with 53 cars on the entry list including Mark du Toit (Lola T70 Spyder), Franco Scribante (Chevron), Ben Morgenrood (Ford Mustang), Dino Scribante (Porsche 911 RSR), and Willie Hepburn (Ford Capri). Supporting the Legends will be the Little Giants class contested by golden oldie cars like the GSM Dart, Renault R8, and Jaguar D-Type.
The autObarn/Northern Bolt & Tool Superhatch races will be combined with 111 Sports & Saloons clases D/E, and should see people like Chris Davison (Opel SuperBoss) and Jonathan du Toit (TAR Honda Civic), fighting at the front end. With 52 cars on the list, the races for 111 Sport and Saloon Classes, will boast one of the meeting’s largest entries including George Bezuidenhout's Accolade Nissan Primera.
A Media Challenge on Sunday, supported by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, will see eight motoring scribes in competition against one another in identical VW Polos: Andrew Leopold, editor of www.sacarfan.co.za; The Citizen Motoring’s Mark Jones; Bakkie&Car magazine editor Michele Lupini; Sean Nurse, editor of the Autodealer supplement; Janine van der Post of Wheels24; Mark Smyth, editor of Business Day Motoring; Lindsay Smyth of Ignition TV; and Star Motoring’s own Denis Droppa.
The event will also feature the launch of the inaugural Volkswagen Celebrity Challenge which will see eight South African celebrities pitting it out against each other in identical Polos. Confirmed entries include rugby legend John Smit, Radio DJ and F1 fanatic Sasha Martinengo, Afrikaans music sensation Jack Parow as well as current Miss South Africa Ntandoyenkosi Kunene.
Ticket prices start at R50 for the Friday and R120 for Saturday or Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at Computicket. Track action starts at around 7.30am on all days, but visit www.kyalamigrandprixcircuit.co.za for the full event programme.