Variety will add much spice to this year’s South African Production Car Racing Championship, with ten manufacturers represented by more than 40 drivers. The Championship, which will start at AA Kyalami on Saturday, February 22, will again be a cornerstone of the year’s premier national Vodacom Power Tour. -

- The series will boast a naming rights sponsor - to be announced this week - while Bridgestone/Firestone has announced that they will return as tyre partner for the year. -

- As in the past, the title chase for near-standard production cars will be decided in five separate classes, representing a wide range of locally - available passenger vehicles. -

- At the front of the field in Class A, the man to beat will be current overall South African Production Car Champion Shaun van der Linde. Van der Linde will head up the Castrol BMW equipe in a BMW 330i, backed in similar cars by Castrol BMW teammates Etienne van der Linde and Anthony Taylor. Their closest competition could come from the rival Kaye-Eddie BMW team, running 330i models for tin-top veteran Reghardt Roets and a former South African single-seater Champion, soon to be named. Rounding out the BMW presence in the class will be two HP/Vaalmac -entered 330i models, in the hands of Richard Sorensen and Mark Allison. Able, ready and eager to break BMW’s stronghold in the Production Car arena will be the Champion Mobil 1 team, with Mercedes-Benz C320 models entered for Leeroy Poulter, Grant Wentzel and possibly another multiple former South African racing Champion. With the two camps’ pre-season testing times virtually identical, an equally close match can be expected under actual racing conditions. Much interest in the class will centre on the appearance of an Alfa-Romeo 156 3,2 GTA, driven under the LG Flatron banner by Martin Steyn, and the Toyota Corolla RunX RSi of Brian Martin. Both the new front-wheel-drive models have shown promising pace during testing and their progress will be closely monitored by Alfa and Toyota fans. Rounding out the class are entries for Steve Wyndham (Ford Credit Falcon XR8)and Peter Lanz (Nissan Maxima). -

- In Class B the early-season favourite must be veteran Mario da Sousa in his Imperial Toyota Corolla RSi, challenged by 20-year-old Bert Grogor in his similar, German Workshop-backed Toyota. Two other youngsters who could win will be Honda Ballade V-TEC drivers Jesse Adams and Dawie Brough. Adams won last season’s CAR Rookie of the Year accolade, while Brough has campaigned various less powerful Honda models with success in the past. -

- As was the case in 2002, Class C will be an all-Honda Ballade 180i affair, led by current Champion Lawrence Boshoff in his Orbit Coach Works example. Posing a challenge under the Honda Spares banner will be Ian Long and Mike O’Sullivan, while class newcomer Craig Nicholson could surprise in his Sabat- sponsored entry. -

- The Class D entry should be topped by current South African Junior Production Car Champion Dave Compton in the ex-Phillip Kekana Toyota Tazz 1600. He will face a varied onslaught, led by the Daihatsu Sirion 1300 entries of Dawie de Villiers and Irshad Jaffer, the Opel Corsa 160 GSi of James Menin and the Motorhouse VW CitiGolf of Angus Thompson. There will be three Ford Ikon entries in the class, driven by Clinton Weston plus two Development drivers. -

- Finally, last year’s relentless VW CitiGolf/Toyota Tazz 1300 war should continue in Class E, with leading drivers the likes of Darren Murphy and Riyad Jaffer.

Original article from Car