Albatec Racing Ford Fiesta WRX in action. Picture: Ford Performance

Cape Town - When the World Rallycross roadshow hits the Killarney circuit in November for its final round of the 2017 season, there will be at least one South African driver lining up among some of the biggest names in racing.

Mark Cronje, who made his name in motorsport as a Toyota South Africa factory driver in Group N and Production Cars in the early 2000s, has signed a one-off deal with the Scottish Albatec Racing team to contest the final round of the WRX season.

Cronje, who also won the Rotax Max world karting championship in 2003, as well as the South African Rally Championship three times (2012, 2013 and 2015), is no stranger to powerful all-wheel drive machinery and competed at local and international level at the wheel of various rally-specification Ford Fiestas.

His stint in World Rallycross, however, will come as a baptism of fire because instead of about 200kW (as his local Class S2000 Fiesta was equipped with) the Albatec Peugeot 208 RX he’ll be driving in November makes more than double the power. World Rallycross cars, which also include VW Polos, Audi A1s and Ford Fiestas, use two-litre turbo engines with roughly 450kW, and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in under 3 seconds… on gravel.

450kW Ford Fiesta WRX will be a baptism of fire for Cronje. File photo: Eric Buijs

Wildcard entry

Cronje applied for a wildcard entry to the South African round in 2016 when it was announced the Cape Town venue would host the season finale. After acceptance the Gauteng-based driver then set out to source a team with a customer programme, and secured local sponsorship to foot the bill.

“I’m really looking forward to racing in World RX, and love the fact that it will be in front of all my supporters,” explained Cronje. “I have no rallycross experience, just a very kind sponsor that enjoys throwing me in at the deep end!

"I’d like to mix it with some of the best in the world, and getting to the semi-finals would be awesome.”

Although the driver lineup for the South African WRX round is unconfirmed, championship regulars include Ken Block, Petter Solberg, Sebastian Loeb and Mattias Ekstrom to name a few. The field will race in group stages around a dedicated rallycross track that combines a multi-surface rally stage and a circuit racing layout, with knockouts culminating in one final race.

About 30 000 spectators are expected to turn up at Killarney for the event which will be run on 11 and 12 November. For tickets and more information on the Gumtree World RX of South Africa, please visit the website.

IOL Motoring
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