By: Motoring Staff
Johannesburg - After two long years of refurbishment the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit reopened its doors to an event of the racing kind this weekend, with a three-day Motorsport Festival boasting more action than any track-based event in South African history.
The Cell C sponsored race days, which ran from Friday to Sunday, saw more than 300 cars and bikes entered into 11 separate categories, across a total of 27 individual races. Categories ranged from regional historics and club bikes, to national touring cars and everything in between, but it was the G&H Transport Extreme Supercars heats which saw one of the biggest, and definitely most expensive fields.
Here it was track owner Toby Venter who led the way (and scored a new official lap record of 1m46.6secs) in race one with his immaculately prepared Porsche 911 GT2. Following him across the line five seconds later were Charl Arangies and Johan Engelbrecht. Venter again gained an early lead in race two, but a slip-up in the Esses allowed the Pirelli Lamborghini of Charl Arangies through to take the win. This time Toby settled for second, with the Porsche of Engelbrecht again taking third.
The National Engen Volkswagen Cup category lived up to its reputation of wheel-banging, bumper-rubbing and wing mirror-busting action with a pair of tightly contested races. In heat one Chris Shorter took his Payen-sponsored Polo to victory ahead of Champion spark plugs team-mates Keagan Masters and Matt Shorter (Chris’s brother). Heat two saw Matt and Chris score one-two positions, with Juan Gerber (Glasfit) taking third. Early on it looked like Shaun La Réservée had the pace to win, but a spectacular engine failure put an end to the Masters category points leader’s weekend with one lap to go.
Global Touring Cars
The two Sasol Global Touring Cars (GTC) heats were races of attrition with numerous cars falling by the wayside. In the end it was the Sasol BMW of Gennaro Bonafede who secured the double, followed to the line by Michael Stephen’s Audi on both occasions. Third went to Stephen’s Engen Xtreme team-mate Simon Moss in race one, and the works VW Jetta of Graeme Nathan in race two. Daniel Rowe won both GTC Production class races in his VW Motorsport Golf GTI.
A special Media Challenge race organised by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists and Volkswagen, which supplied eight identical 1.2 TSI Polos, wasn’t the quickest class of the weekend (not by a longshot!), but saw plenty of ding-dong battles between motoring scribes over its six laps.
The Citizen Motoring’s Mark Jones looked good for the win, but a major bout of understeer going into the last turn gifted Sean Nurse (editor of the Autodealer supplement) top honours. Bakkie & Car Magazine’s Michele Lupini was third. This publication’s editor Denis Droppa was in the the mix until his Polo called game and limped back to the pits with engine trouble.
The same eight Polos were then used in an inaugural Celebrity Challenge, which rapper Jack Parow walked with ease.