This year’s South African championship Extreme Festival circuit racing series will commence at the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, with seven separate racing disciplines to tackle a total of 14 races.
Officially, the day’s top billing will belong to the Sasol Global Touring Car Championship category, where reigning South African champion Michael Stephen (Engen Xtreme Audi A3) will defend his title against tough competition.
Taking him on will be Engen Xtreme Audi team-mate Simon Moss, Sasol BMW drivers Gennaro Bonafede and Robert Wolk, factory Volkswagen Jetta pairing Mathew Hodges and Daniel Rowe, plus privateers Johan Fourie (EPS Couriers BMW) and Michael van Rooyen (RSC BMW). The 2018 GTC cars will have more turbo boost and power at their disposal than previously, plus a Push to Pass feature and full slick racing tyres.
They will be joined on track by ten GTC2 cars, led by the factory Volkswagen Golf GTI entries of reigning champion Keegan Masters and Adrian Wood.
Their toughest opposition should come from people like Devin Robertson (Champion Mini JCW), Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Mini JCW), Trevor Bland (Universal Health Golf GTI) and Charl Smalberger (Lee Thompson Golf GTI). Heading up the entry list for G&H Transport Supercars will be the brand new Bentley Continental GT3 of Toby Venter, which has proven incredibly quick in testing.
Venter will face off against the likes of Franco Scribante (Porsche 997 Turbo), Charl Arangies (Stradale Aston Martin Vantage GT3), Greg Parton (Drizit Lamborghini Huracan), Jonathan du Toit (TAR Ferrari F430), Gianni Giannoccaro (G&H Transport BMW Z4 GT3), Nicky Dicks (Curvent Porsche 997) and Dawie Olivier (G&H Transport BMW M3).
Others to watch should include Sav Gualitieri (Savspeed BMW F30 Turbo), Anton Cronje (AF Hydraulics Subaru WRX), Thouca Mechanicos (ELT Mercedes DTM 55 AMG), Adrian Dalton (Xtra Clothing BMW M3), Mark du Toit ( TAR Ferrari F360) and Darren Winterboer (Barons BMW).
The Engen Volkswagen Polo Cup category will start a new era this weekend, with 22 brand new Polos taking to the tarmac.
The cars will be powered by Volkswagen’s tried and trusted two-litre turbocharger GTI engine, using a Motec engine management system to produce 155 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque.
The power will be transmitted to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, with the cars shod in 17-inch Dunlop semi-slick tyres. A new innovation will be a Push to Pass facility, which will enable drivers to briefly access 170 kW of power once per lap.
Top contenders at Kyalami should include Tasmin Pepper (Electric Life Polo), Shaun La Reservee (Alpine Motors Polo), Jason Campos (Campos Transport Polo), Keegan Campos (Campos Transport Polo), Darren Oates (Payen Polo), Alton Bouw (Champion Ferodo Polo) and Clinton Bezuidenhout (Glyco Polo).
Others to watch must include Juan Gerber (Glasfit Polo), Paulus Franken (Manitou Group Polo), Charl Wilken (VW Polo), Justin Oates (VW Polo), Jonathan Mogotsi and Raais Asmal in Volkswagen works cars, Shivesh Bissoon (Steaming Bean Polo), Benjamin Habig (VW Polo), Simon Need (Photonics Polo), Delon Thompson (VW Polo) while Jeffrey Kruger and Johan Pretorius will fly the Universal Healthcare flag.
VM Innovations will see to the entry of Daniel Duminy (SMD Group Polo), while Nathans Motorsport will enter the cars of Wouter Roos and Peet Visagie.
The Investchem Formula 1600 category will take to Kyalami in new cars, now featuring paddle-shift gearchanging. Top contenders should be Alex Gillespie (ERP Trucking Mygale), Cameron OÇonnor (Repco Supplies Mygale), Andrew Horne (Mygale SJ), Brendan Tracey (Investchem Mygale), Stuart White (Fantastic Mygale), and Andrew Schofield (Investchem Mygale).
Reigning South African champion Graeme van Breda (Stefanutti Stocks ZX10R) will be the man to beat in the Red Square Kawasaki Masters races, with his closest adversaries probably Sven Grune (Kawasaki ZX10R), Appana Ganapathy (Art ZX10R), Gareth Bezuidenhout (Kawasaki ZX10R), Hannes de Vos (Kawasaki ZX10R), Jaco Gous (Kawasaki ZX10R), Johan le Roux (Avidan ZX10R), Rob Cragg (Madmacs ZX10R) and Ruan Oberholzer (Kawasaki ZX10R).
An invitational race for Samcar V8 Supercars will provide extra flavour.
Top contenders will include Mackie Adlem (Jaguar XKR), Franco di Matteo (Deltec Batteries Jaguar), Terry Wilford (Fuchs Ford Falcon), Benjamin Morgenrood (Ford Mustang), Grant van Schalkwyk (Ultimate V8 Chev Corvette), Ian Young (Associated alterations Ford), Romano Sartori (Ford Mustang) and Steve Herbst (Prei Instrumentation Corvette).
Much interest should be on the participation of veteran racer Rui Campos, who will tackle the two races in a Turn 1 Insurance Mustang.
The Bridgestone Thunderbikes and Bridgestone Sub 10 Superbikes will race together, with frontrunners expected to be Lance Isaacs (Supabets BMW), Ferdinad Frederick (Westleigh BMW), Pierre Grobler (Surestart Properties Kawasaki), Jordan Agliotti (Westside Honda Fireblade) and Deon Smith (MEC BMW).