Pepper takes to Zwartkops a slender lead over Class A contenders Leeroy Poulter, the defending champion, and Shaun Watson-Smith. Poulter (Sasol Nissan 350Z) and Watson-Smith (Xtreme Team Audi A4) are locked together eight points adrift of Pepper and that sets out the table for a little cameo performance.
Graeme Nathan (BP Ultimate/Kaye Eddie VW Golf GTi), another Class T competitor, and Johan Fourie (Johan Fourie Racing Audi A4) are not out of the picture, and are within striking distance of the leading trio. Everything considered, it is a pressure cooker situation.
There is little doubt the fourwheel drive brigade will be relishing the Zwartkops visit. The tight nature of the circuit will play into the hands of the Audi and Subaru teams and Poulter – with help from team-mates Gary Formato and Tschops Sipuka – will probably be concentrating on a damage control exercise.
The factory Nissan drivers will also be hoping for some outside assistance from Reggie Roets in the Bosal Nissan 350Z and Marco da Cunha in the Tubular Tech entry. Roets, in particular, has the ability to come up with something special.
The experienced Watson-Smith and team-mate Michael Stephen, who shared wins last time out with Fourie, will fancy their chances at Zwartkops. Fourie will be in the same boat and Melvill Priest (MiKar Sonax Audi A4) will be a dangerman.
The three Subaru Imprezas entered under the Lindenberg Racing banner could also come into the picture. On this score oval star Seefie Fourie, in the Medal Paints car, will be closely watched on his track debut.
The Zwartkops outing also sees the return of the Castrol BMW trio of former champion Anthony Taylor, Etienne van der Linde and Clint Weston after a one race “sabbatical.” None of the three are championship contenders, but have the potential to throw a spanner in the works where other championship hopefuls are concerned.
The Class A cars will race separately from the Class T, Class B and Class C categories. The fourwheel drive entries will probably be carrying the smart money, and the only certainty is that there will be plenty of action in both 12 lap heats.
On the Class T front Garth Waberski (Castrol Mini Cooper) and Robert Wolk (Afintapart Mini Cooper) will be back in action and at Zwartkops could trouble the VW brigade. There have also been recent signs that Dave Compton, after a myriad of teething problems in the supercharged Sasol Toyota RunX, is starting to get back on the pace.
All the pressure, however, is on Pepper. In terms of both the overall and Class T championships the Centurion veteran cannot afford to slip up at this stage of proceedings.
A youth versus age and cunning battle that has raged throughout the season between Riyad Jaffer (Sasol Toyota RunX) and Ben Morgenrood (Zoom Zoom Mazda RX8) will again dominate Class B. Jaffer leads by six points at this stage, and theirs is another cameo performance to watch.
Down in Class C there is also a terrific battle going on between Robie Beninca (BTS City Lite) and Trevor Tuck in the Motorsport Infinity/Agip Fiat Grande Punto. Only four points separate the pair and good results for both drivers are a must.
Only two points separate Etienne Prinsloo (Venditor Konica Minolta VW Polo TDi) and Mark Silverwood in the OKI Ford Fiesta, and both are also potential winners. Ian Prinsloo, in a second Polo Tdi and Theuns Eloff, in the second Fiat, are also contenders in what is always a fiercely competitive category of racing.