Kyalami - A new season of national championship circuit racing kicked off on Saturday when Kyalami hosted the first round of the 2018 Motorsport Festival, and while the day was kind to some it was certainly cruel to others.
The new-look Engen Polo Cup category, which is using 2-litre turbocharged engines with new push-to-pass technology for the first time, saw some close racing with the top six cars in qualifying covered by less than a second. Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Healthcare) dominated proceedings with pole position, a new lap record and wins in both of the day's heats.
In race one Kruger was followed home by Jonathan Mogotsi (VW Motorsport) and Juan Gerber (Gerber Motorsport), but not before a serious crash involving Raais Asmal and Simon Need necessitated a safety car for four laps.
Kruger again led the field in heat two, this time chased to the line by Tasmin Pepper (Electric Life) and Keegan Campos (Turn 1), but only thanks to leaders Gerber and Mogotsi taking each other out of contention early on.
There was big drama in the Sasol GTC races, where final finishing orders were determined by crashes. Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW) took the first race from Michael Stephen (Engen Audi) and Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW), while early front-runner Robert Wolk (Sasol BMW) ploughed into the mineshaft wall after a mechanical failure.
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Race two was disastrous for all but Simon Moss (Engen Audi) who was the only driver to cross the finish. Daniel Rowe (VW Motorsport Jetta) led early on but crashed out, and Bonafede and Michael van Rooyen (RCS BMW) stopped with engine issues. Johan Fourie's BMW had a high-speed brake failure at the end of the main straight and slammed into the tyre barriers, wiping out Stephen's Audi in the process. Both drivers were shaken but unhurt.
Keagan Masters (VW GTI) and Brad Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini) shared wins in the GTC2 class.
G&H Extreme Supercars
Charl Arangies continued his domination of the G&H Extreme Supercars category, powering his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to easy wins in both heats. The remaining podium spots in race one went to Adrian Dalton (BMW M3) and Jonathan du Toit (Ferrari), and Sav Gualitieri (BMW M3) and Dalton again in race two.
Mackie Adlam took the first V8 Supercars win by five seconds from Ben Morgenrood (Mustang) and Terry Wilford (Falcon), but in a closer-fought heat two Morgenrood got the better of Franco Di Matteo (Jaguar) and Wilford.
In the supporting classes Stuart White (Fantastic Racing) won both Formula 1600 heats, veteran rider Graeme van Breda scored both Red Square ZX10 Masters victories, and Lance Isaacs was undefeated in Bridgestone Thunderbikes.
National championship track racing resumes at the Cape's Killarney circuit on April 21.