The 24th of March saw some top racing at Kyalami from various classes of car ranging from Shelby Can Ams right up to the Altech Porsche Challenge Unlimited. The weather played a big part in the day’s proceedings as the constant threat of rain made tyre choices very difficult. This was not really a problem for the slower classes but for the faster cars, driving skills were tested to the limit.
There were 8 classes of car and 2 classes of bike racing on Saturday as well as an exclusive demonstration of Michael Schumacher’s Benetton Formula One car by legendary local driver, Gary Formato. The sound of an F1 car going down the straight is something every car fanatic should hear… Shelby Can Ams are a unique class of car. They are powered by the Nissan 3.5 V6 which is thrown into a tiny Le-Mans styled body. These cars are quite quick on the straights but their real strength lies in their braking and cornering abilities.
The Formula Ford is another class of car and has a steep history behind it. It started in England in 1967 and still continues through to this day. The principle is all about driver skill as the engines are equal. The field taking part in this competition is very wide with even a young lady, Tamsin Pepper, taking part. Tamsin is 16 and is more than able to keep up with the more senior drivers. Watch out for her in the coming years.
Porsche Challenge is what I came to see and this is where the men are separated from the boys. You will see the likes of Porsches, Ferraris, Lotus and TVRs taking part. There are two classes racing, Class A and Class B. Class A features Porsche 911s with turbo engines and Class B features normally aspirated Ferraris and Porsches. One Class A Porsche 911 driven by Vernon Bricknell has around 700hp and sounds absolutely phenominal. Ear-plugs are seriously recommended. Each gearshift from this Porsche resulted in a backfire that made children cry! Toby Venter (who is head of Porsche South Africa) drives a Class B 996GT3 Porsche is so quick that he is posting Class A times and he has half the horse power compared to the Class A’s. The Ferraris attracted the most attention with their four cars but were sadly outgunned by the more powerful Porsches.
One of the best things about these races is that anyone is allowed into the pits even during the races. You as a spectator can visit each team’s garage and chat to the drivers and crews. This makes for a fantastic experience and one will actually feel a part of the race, not just a normal spectator. Its about time that local racing had more support. Its very competitive and well worth attending. The next race at Kyalami featuring the Porsches will be in September. In the meantime one can watch the production cars (BMW, Audi, Nissan) in July. And guys, even if the cars don’t do it for you, just go for a look and a chat to the promotion girls.