It has been an awfully long time since local motorsport entertained an appreciative crowd, but thankfully that should be at an end with the new Level 1 Covid restrictions being followed for Saturday’s Extreme Festival at Zwartkops. Although a limit of 2000 people has been set for outdoor events, the passion of local enthusiasts should ensure that even a smaller number than that will make the occasion memorable.
In the slick shod Class A, an old favourite returns. Sav Gualtieri will pilot the Savspeed Racing BMW F30 335i V8 Turbo. He will be joined on the grid by William Einkamerer (BTAS BMW E92 335i) who is raring to go again, after being side-lined at Phakisa in September due to illness. He won at the Big Z back in June and that should spur him on to repeat the feat. Adrian Dalton (Xtra Shoes and Clothing BMW E46 M3 CSL) did not fare too well in the Free State after retiring half-way through race 1 but is back to make amends. Fabio Fedetto (BMW F82 M4) is back for a second race on slicks and hopes the experience gleaned on his debut last month will stand him in good stead.
Class B will again be headed by Andreas Meier (#TrainedAmateurs BMW E36 STC) but the usual suspects will be out in force to try and steal his thunder. Jagger Robertson (Viking/Big Boss Auto BMW E46 M3), Carlo Garbini (Kimbo Coffee BMW E46 330 Turbo), Oz Biagioni (Design Lab/VR Fuels BMW E46 M3) and Salvi Gualtieri (Savspeed/Eataly Foods BMW E36 328i Turbo) now also have Alan Hilligenn (C3 Shared Services BMW E46 328i Turbo) in their ranks after he broke out of Class C at Phakisa. Reigning overall champion Nicholas van Zyl (RSR BMW E36 328i Turbo) is also back for his first start since June. A difficult season so far has not allowed the title defence he would have liked but the young man hopes to relinquish his crown on a positive note in the last 2 rounds. Motoring scribe Mark Jones has made the odd appearance this season and will be back in the Savspeed Racing BMW E90 335i.
In Class C Nek Makris (BMW E46 328i Turbo) and Renier Smith (BMW E36 M3) shared the spoils at the Goldfields, but both Matthew Wadeley (BMW E36 M3) and Lyle Ramsay (Fuchs Lubricants/Rich Racing BMW E36 330i) will be an ever-present threat to them. Trevor Long (Roof Surgeon/Big Boss Auto BMW E36 M3) will also be on hand to feature strongly like he has of late. Troy Cochran (Arrow Automotive/ATE BMW E36 M3) was beset by mechanical problems in the Free State and did not even start a race on the day. A solid result at Zwartkops should wipe that from his mind. Thomas Potgieter makes his debut in the Class driving the Stonehill Properties BMW E36 M3 Turbo, formerly steered by David Coetzee.
Varish Ganpath (Prodigy BMW E46 325ci) and Neil Reynolds (Valve Hospital BMW E36 M3) have traded blows all season long at the top of Class D and should continue in similar vein. Craig and Nicholas Herbst will again share the Greenhouse Solar BMW E46 330i to do battle with them. Manny Ribeiro’s distinctive yellow track taxi (BMW E46 325i Touring) should again be a focal point albeit in the hands of BMW Club Race Series Chairman Bernard de Gouveia whose car is not race ready. Manny will be absent due to family commitments. Shane Grobler (Mayfair Gearbox BMW E30 325i) is another stalwart looking to wind down the season with strong results.
In Class E, the venerable Mike Grobler (Grobler Motorsport BMW E36 328i) continues to belie his years. A win in heat 2 at Phakisa could well be followed up with another on Saturday. Hein van der Merwe (Stigworx BMW E36 325i Turbo) will take the fight to him after claiming the win in heat 1 at the former Grand Prix venue. Nicholas Fischer (Inside Active Group E36 328i) is another name capable of upsetting the apple cart. Rupert Giessing (BMW E36 328i) has thrown his hat in the ring after a long absence but will have lost none of his competitive edge. Last but not least, Morgan Long and Spiro Makris will join siblings Trevor and Nek on the grid, racing in a class to be determined by their respective practice/qualifying times.
With the last round of the season to follow at the Kyalami 9-hour weekend of the 3rd/4th Dec, at which the BMW Race Series will be a supporting category, this penultimate round should be a dress rehearsal for that outing on our biggest stage.
A packed programme at Zwartkops will also feature Sunbet ZX10 Masters Cup, Volkswagen Polo Cup, Investchem F1600m, Global Touring Cars, and Mobil V8 Supercars. Also on the bill is the Picanto Cup, a one-make series from neighbouring Mozambique which will be watched with much interest.
A better tribute to the long absent fans could not be arranged, and the racing should be worthy of their presence after such a long barren spell.
Story by Tony Alves
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