With a streamlined format and the arrival of various new cars, this year’s South African Production Car Championship should provide some of local circuit racing’s top excitement. -

- The country’s only national title chase for near-standard passenger cars will be held over 20 races at seven separate circuits during the year, again forming a mainstay of the Vodacom Power Tour.The discipline will accommodate three different racing classes, representing a wide range of locally-available production vehicles. They will all compete on high-performance road-legal Bridgestone tyres. -

- As in the past, the 2004 season will produce a South African Champion in each of the three contested national classes, plus an overall South African Production Car-, and a Junior South African Production Car Champion. -

- The field-topping Class A category should boast at least a dozen competitors, encompassing at least four car marques. Following class title victories the past two seasons, BMW’s 330i model should be campaigned by seven drivers under the banners of varied sponsors. Judging by last year’s results, their toughest challenge should come from a Mercedes-Benz C320, a Ford Falcon XR8 and an Alfa Romeo 156 GTA. The most exciting confirmed new entries in the class will be a pair of Alfa Romeo 147 GTA models, while Terry Moss Racing might still enter two works- assisted Audi S4 V8 quattro models. -

- From this year, Class B will cater for passenger cars with a maximum power output of 145 kW, opening the door for many previously unsuited newcomers. Thus far, confirmed entries will include two new Mini Cooper S models, a Toyota RunX RSi, two Ford Focus ST170 combatants and a BMW 328i. Adding much interest in the class should be the inclusion of a Mercedes-Benz 270Cdi - South Africa’s first turbo diesel-powered racing car. -

- Running with the Class B entries, but scoring points in their own Cup Challenge will be a host of Honda Ballade 180i models. This will be the venerable cars’ final year of national circuit racing competition, following a special concession by the Production Car Racing Association. Normally, Production Car Championship regulations would outlaw any vehicle three years after its manufacturer stopped offered it for sale on showroom floors. -

- Cars with a maximum power output of 85 kW will be eligible for Class C, to effectively replace the discipline’s former Classes D and E. Vehicles expected on the start line should include Toyota’s Tazz 1600, various Ford Ikon and Fiesta 160i models, Volkswagen’s CitiGolf 1600 and Opel Corsa derivatives. Newcomers in the class will include two Fiat Sienna 1,6 EL models. The first two races of the 2004 South African Production Car Championship will take place at AA Kyalami on February 28, during the opening round of this year’s Vodacom Power Tour at the circuit.