Zwartkops Raceway, west of Pretoria, will host the first Extreme Festival event of the 2016 circuit racing season on Saturday, 19 March 2016. Nine different racing disciplines make up the on track activity for the day.

The  Sandton Auto BMW

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

The G&H Transport Extreme Supercars will headline the day’s activities with a wide range of exotic machinery on display. Lee Thompson (Siris Engineering BMW E92) is likely to be the man to beat although he will face some stiff competition. Rui Campos (Sandton Auto BMW) should be close to the head of the field together with Greg Parton (KTM X-Bow). Others who will be on circuit include Loris Chiappa (Morris Cranes Ferrari 430), Willem van der Westhuizen (Stradale Ferrari F430), Gianni Giannoccaro (G&H TRansport BMW) and Christo Lotter (Exceed Gear Lamborghini).

Shaun la Reservee demonstrated the 2016 Engen VW Cup car at Killarney

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

About 20 brand new cars should line up on the grid at Zwartkops for the first round of the 2016 Engen Volkswagen Cup.  This is the first of the eight-round championship and marks the start of the series celebrating a full two decades of national competition.

“The Engen Volkswagen Cup championship is one of South Africa’s great success stories,” says Mike Rowe, head of Volkswagen Motorsport and one of the original Engen Volkswagen Cup competitors (when the series was making use of the original Volkswagen Polo Classic body).

“True motor racing is about close battles, demanding the very best in race driver skills. Engen Volkswagen Cup competition is all about showcasing these great skills and rewarding the racers who push themselves and their Volkswagen Polo race cars to the limit. It’s a basic motorsport package that demands driver commitment for success,” says Rowe. “This makes the series a perennial favourite for both the competitors and spectators.”

For the first time, Engen Volkswagen Cup racing will have a Volkswagen Motorsport-backed entry. Here Kuda Vazhure will compete with both VW Motorsport backing and support from the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile).

Since its inception, the Engen Volkswagen Cup series has made use of a Volkswagen Polo bodyshell as its base, but has regularly updated to keep the race car current with the Volkswagen Polo available to the public in the dealer showroom.

“Introducing the latest update to the Engen Volkswagen Cup in its 20th year of competition is a fantastic way to celebrate,” says Rowe.

With 2015 champion Sheldon van der Linde off to compete in the Audi Sport TT Cup in Germany there will be a new champion crowned in 2016. A number of drivers, among them Shaun la Reservee (Alpine Motors Polo), Matt Shorter (Champion Polo), Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo Polo) and Chris Shorter (Payen Gaskets Polo), will be looking to get their championship chase off to the best possible start. Newcomers to the series, Keagan Masters (Champion Polo) and Jurie Swart (Ferodo Polo), will be looking to mix it with the more experienced drivers.


Julian van der Watt and Dewald Brummer lead the charge into turn 1

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

The other national championship category that will be on show at Zwartkops is the Investchem Formula Fords. Here as well the 2015 champion has moved on and a new champion will be crowned in 2016. Three of the top five finishers in the 2015 title race – Werner Scholtz, Dewald Brummer and Julian van der Watt – are back in 2016 and are likely to be at the head of the field again.

Alex Gillespie, 2015’s most improved driver, should also be there or thereabouts. Veteran Rick Morris, fresh from an outing at the Phillip Island Historic Festival, is always a tough competitor.

Andrew Horne, Dean Venter and Allen Meyer were all in action in the Investchem Formula Ford Kent championship last weekend at Red Star Raceway. They will make the change to Duratec engined cars for this event.

Tasmin Pepper

Tasmin Pepper

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

The Comsol VW Challenge drivers tackle the second round of their 2016 championship at Zwarkops.

At the opening round, held at Phakisa three weeks ago, the battle at the head of the class A field was between Tasmin Pepper (Campos Transport / Alpine Motors Polo) and Sheldon van der Linde with each of them taking a race win. Van der Linde was only making a guest appearance in the opening round – he has moved on to race in the Audi TT Cup in Europe – so Pepper will be looking for a new challenger. Based on the results in the opening round Rory Atkinson (Comsol Polo) and Waldie Meintjes (LTR / Marty’s Body & Spray Polo) are the most likely candidates although James Hurley (The Starter Pack Company Polo) and Wayne Crous (King Price Insurance Polo) could also be up there.

Reigning champion Nic Clarke (Central Technical Services Polo) knows he is going to have to fight to retain his overall and class B titles this year. Darren Nathan (Sextrader Polo) won both heats at Phakisa and will be looking for a repeat performance on Saturday. The leading duo are not likely to have it all their own way however as any of five or six drivers could mount a serious challenge. The Stewart brothers, Daine and Mile, in their RCS Security Services Polos, Jacques Smith (Hydra Arc Polo), Brad Hall (Hellermann Tyton Racing Polo) together with Francois van Zyl (Jesus Saves Polo) could all be in the mix. Adrian Wood (Polo) joining the series after a number of years competing on the national stage could be another one to watch.

In class C Luan Roos (Nathan’s Motorsport Polo) and Graham Savage (Goldwagen JHB CBD and Wynberg Golf) shared the wins at Phakisa. 2016 class C champion Zander Roos (Nathans Motorsport Polo) is likely to be back in action and should be a serious threat at the head of the field. Stuart Mack (Goldwagen JHB CBD and Wynberg Golf) should be back in his own car this round and, based on past performances at Zwartkops, will have a say in things at the sharp end. Others who could be in contention include Philip Croeser (ATE Polo), Shaun Crous (Ancro Building Projects Polo) and John Johnstone (Circle Group Polo).

The Speed & Sound 111 Sports and Saloons will provide close racing as they always do at Zwartkops. Among the vehicle out on track will be Werner Pieterse (Valhalla Spares VW Golf), Ryan Quan-Chai (RDG BMW Z4), George Smallberger (Shield VW Golf) and Vaughan Obhlidal (Tissot BMW E30).

Kyle Robinson in action at the opening round of the Kawasaki Masters Cup

Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images

A number of two-wheeled categories will also be out on track. At the opening round of the Red Square Kawasaki ZX10-R Masters Cup held at Red Star a few weeks back Graeme van Breda (IVID ZX10-R) and Kyle Robinson (Fantech / Randblower / Uncle Andy Racing Kawasaki ZX10-R) shared the race wins. They are likely to be at the head of the field again but Tony Klem (Frontier Diamaonds), Teddy Brooke, Sanjiv Singh, Jaco Gous (van Breda Motorcycles), Sven Grune (Page Property Developers) and Appana Ganapathy (ART Racing) will be among their challengers.

Brandon Goode and Gareth Davidson should be near the front of the Dunlop Thunderbike field on their Yamaha R1s. Anthony Shelley (Fercor / Tarpave / Supreme Yamaha R1), who won both heats at the opening round, will be looking for a repeat performance. Daryn Upton (Turnskill BMW S1000RR) will be looking to stop the Yamahas as will Justin Gillesen (BMW S1000RR).

The Sub-10 Superbikes and Silverton Bolt & Nut Challenge will also be out on track.

The gates at Zwartkops will be open from 06h00. The first of the day’s qualifying sessions gets underway at 07h30 with racing proper starting at 10h40. Tickets are R100 per adult and R70 per Student. Children under 12 years old will be admitted free of charge.