Extreme delights for Border race fans
East London’s legendary Grand Prix Circuit will play host to the third round of the 2017 Extreme Festival, where local race fans can expect to be thrilled by a scintillating day’s racing topped by a trio of South African National Championship classes in the Sasol GTCs, Engen Volkswagen Cup and Investchem Formula 1600 races.
They will be backed up by a quartet of visiting Northern Regions championship classes in the spectacular G&A Extreme Supercars, the Comsol Volkswagen Challenge and a pair of Red Square Kawasaki ZX10 Masters and Bridgestone Thunder Bike motorcycle classes.
The historic East London Circuit hosted the first South African Grand Prix in 1934 before later pre-war races attracted the world’s finest racers to the town. Racing returned to the Border in 1960, with the world championship ’64, ’65 and 1966 SA Grands Prix fought out by the likes of Jim Clark, Graham Hill, John Surtees and Jack Brabham driving Coopers, Lotus, BRM and Ferraris.
Sasol GTC Tops the Bill
50 years down the line, the East London Grand Prix Circuit still plays host to top SA National motorsport and Saturday 20 May’s races should add more history to an incredible legend in yet another great day’s racing at the idyllic track with the premier Sasol Global Touring Cars topping the bill.
GTC Championship leader Gennaro Bonafede (Sasol BMW) heads to East London keen to add to his three race wins out of four starts so far in 2017 to expand on his handy 41-point title advantage over Engen Extreme Audi driver Simon Moss, who has enjoyed a solid season so far to sit a rather lonely second in the championship chase. The Port Elizabeth youngster will be keen on a home province victory.
One driver punching above his championship weight is multiple SA race champion Johan Fourie, who has muscled his privateer EPS Couriers BMW into third in the championship race off a positive season so far, but he will be in the sights of factory Volkswagen pilot, Johannesburg's Matthew Hodges, who sits fourth in the title chase after winning the day overall at Kyalami last time out.
Port Elizabeth’s defending Sasol GTC champion Michael Stephen will be out to make good after a tough start to the season — the Engen Extreme Audi driver has had more than his fair share of issues so far this season and sits fifth in the championship race ahead of GTC rookie, Daniel Rowe’s Volkswagen Motorsport Jetta. Another rookie, Sasol BMW's Robert Wolk has endured a baptism of fire in GTC, while Michael van Rooyen will want to keep his resurgence going in the RSC BMW.
The Sasol GTC2 hot hatch class sees two new cars taking to the track for the first time in East London. Cape lad Daine Angel’s brand new Autohaus Angel Honda Civic Type R and compatriot Kosie Weyers’ NSI/Goodwood Belfreeze Chevrolet Cruze will have their work cut out by the class regulars though, not least of all Volkswagen Motorsport’s 17-year-old championship leader, 17-year-old Keagan Masters, who has won three out of the four races so far in his Golf GTI.
VW Golf GTI trio, Trevor Bland’s TB Racing car, iCorp Volkswagen Parts driver Charl Smallberger and VW Motorsport man Mdakane are next up in that championship chase, ahead of Signature Racing Mini Cooper JCW duo Chris Shorter (Champion) and Bradley Liebenberg (Ferodo), who will be itching to progress toward the front of the GTC2 grid, and Iain Stephenson’s Comsol Golf GTI.
One class that is certain to thrill is the Engen Volkswagen Cup that always delivers action of the tallest order and that class is set to settle down to some proper racing following a bit of musical chairs in the early races, when race 2 winner Shaun La Réserveé missed Kyalami’s rounds 3 and 4 to get married.
Shaun was replaced by Lee Thompson who went on to dominate at Kyalami in the Alpine Pepper Polo at Kyalami, while Dewald Brummer substituted for Shaun’s maid of honour Tasmin Pepper in the Campos/Alpine Pepper Polo to end up third in Jozi. Both those cars get their regular drivers back at East London, but the championship has progressed in their absence.
Engen VW Cup veteran Devin Robertson (Payen) leads the title chase from his young gun Signature Racing teammate Clinton Bezuidenhout (Glyco) and Masters driver Juan Gerber (Glasfit/Simeka). Ignoring those super subs, Masters champion La Réserveé sits an effective fourth in the title chase ahead of Jeffrey Kruger (Universal Healthcare), Tasmin Pepper, Justin Oates (Glasfit) and Jano van der Westhuizen (Universal) in that championship chase with top rookie Benjamin Habig (Nural) and Matt Shorter (Moog) rounding off the top ten.
Keep an eye out for the likes of Volkswagen Motorsport drivers Kuda Vazhure and rookie Driver Search winner Jonathan Mogotsi, the colourful Gary van Heerden (Nutritech), Darren Oates (Glasfit) and 16-year old trio, Daniel Duminy (SMD Pepper), Ethan van Heerden (Nutritech) and another promising rookie, Giordano Lupini (Pepper) among this lot. Former rally driver Paulus Franken and rookie VW Driver Search graduate Shivvy Bissoon are also worth watching out for.
Cape Town driver Julian van der Watt (RDSA) has dominated the opening four races of the new wings and slicks Investchem Formula 1600 championship so far, but the lad who has finished second every time, Stuart White has a date clash with his French Formula 4 commitments and will miss the East London races.
That should pave the way for the likes of Cameron O’ Connor, Dean Venter, Alex Gillespie, Joshua Dolinschek, Mozambican Karl Pitzer and Brad Beningfield to take advantage and perhaps even take the challenge to van der Watt. Father and son Ian and Andrew Schofield, Werner Scholtz and Liam Pienaar; former SA Endurance champion Nick Adcock, lady drivers Paige Lindenberg and Donny Lamola, Craig Nunns and newcomer Brendan Tracey will also be up to the East London challenge.
Supercars & Superbikes
Among the biggest attractions of the East London Extreme Festival have to be the G&H Extreme Supercar races where the likes of Craig Jarvis’ Dodge Viper, Ferrari trio Jonathan and Mark du Toit and Jimmy Giannoccaro and Porsche men Dino Scribante and Oliver Dalais are poised to thrill. A gang of rapid BMWs steered by the likes of Dawie Olivier, Ricky and Gianni Giannoccaro, Paul Hill and Len-Henry Gobey will however be out to beat their sleek rivals.
Two wheel action comes in the form of the Bridgestone Kawasaki ZX10 Masters Graeme van Breda, Gareth Bezuidenhout, Jaco Gous, Stuart Russel and Wayne Spicer will be out to win. Don’t ignore Teddy Brooke, Jonty Collard, Sfiso Themba or Sven Grune, while Pieter de Vos, Johan Le Roux, JB Schoeman and Wayne Spicer will all be out to prove who can best handle a ZX-10.
Rick Carmody (Honda) and Gavin Upton (Yamaha) stand out among the Bridgestone Thunder Bike entries, mainly because they are not riding Kawasakis like the rest. Dean Vos, Ross McCrorie, Shaun Vermaak, Rupert Fourie, Pierre Le Roux, Travis Naude, Dirk Stols and Gareth Bezuidenhout will all be Kawasaki mounted.
The visiting Gauteng Volkswagen Challenge gang will complete a full race program on the day, where door-to-door action is guaranteed across the three classes. Stiaan Kriel has enjoyed a faultless season so far in Class A, where he leads the returning Iain Pepper and the three Ws, Wayne Masters, Waldie Meintjes and Wayne Crous in the top class chase.
Adrian Wood leads the Class B charge from Nic Clarke, Lyle Ramsay, Quinton Needham and Jacques Smith, while overall championship leader Rory Atkinson has made Class C his own, but he will enjoy the full attentions of Wouter Roos, Shaun Crous, Chris Dale, Gareth Lyke and Simon Levin down in East London.
See you at the Grand Prix Circuit!
The Border Motorsport Club is putting on a full show in conjunction with Aloe Oils, Coca-Cola, Easylife Kitchens, Mica Hardware, Nyati Security and Visual Advertising. Besides the racing on the day there's a Kiddies Entertainment Corner, a Flea Market, food vendors, the canteen and a fully licensed pub, as well as the Coca Cola Gig Rig.
The East London Grand Prix Circuit is situated at the end of Potters Pass off the R72 Settlers Way. Locals can purchase early bird tickets at R50 each from the BMSC Office, the Beacon Bay Spar, Best Drive on Cambridge Street, Ian’s Auto Clinic or Vincent Hardware, or at the gate at R80 apiece when gates open early on raceday.