This country's most spectacular circuit racing show is about to become faster, tougher and more exciting than before. The involved discipline is the South African Superbike Championship, which will run to new regulations from this year. -

- From 2004, the country's most prestigious two-wheeler title chase will accommodate Unlimited Superbikes with engine displacements of up to 1 000cc. Racing in near-standard form, the Unlimited Superbikes are set to phase out the formula's former, highly modified 600cc machines. -

- With the 2004 Vodacom Power Tour scheduled to start at AA Kyalami on Saturday, February 28, most of the country's top motorcycle teams have already tested new, bigger machines with favourable results. Heading up the entry list and defending his South African title will be Autopage Cellular Yamaha team captain Russell Wood, assisted by fellow multiple former Champion Greg Dreyer. -

- The Autopage riders will start the year on current Yamaha R1 models, to be replaced by new 2004 examples before the third race of the season. The First Technology team - last season's Championship runners-up - will again depend on the riding skills of Shaun Whyte and Arushen Moodley, plus youngster and 2002 Privateers' Champion Sheridan Morias. -

- They will also field a Junior Team, in the persons of Charless Grassie and Donovan Fourie. First Technology will bring Honda back into the local racing arena; with 2004 Fireblade models airfreighted here to meet the first race’s deadlines. -

- Another importer to return with a full-scale factory team will be Ducati, fielding 999S versions for Stewart MacLeod, Lance Isaacs and former privateer Robert Portman. -

- The Cell C Suzuki equipe will send ultra-quick youngster Hudson Kennaugh and seasoned veteran Trevor Crookes into battle on new Suzuki GSXR1000 models. Also on a Suzuki at the beginning of the year – with plans to swap it for a new Yamaha R1 later in the season – will be Greame van Breda, while the ultra-experienced Gavin Ramsay will depend on Yamaha R1 derivatives throughout, under the Kreepy Krauly banner. -

- Making history by actively competing in South Africa for the first time will be Aprilia, providing youngsters Garth Norris and Clinton Pienaar with their new Mille machines, to be raced with financial assistance from Arlen Ness. -

- Atthe time of writing, top riders Noel Haarhoff and Alex Lenearts were still finalizing their 2004 plans. -

- With the new regulations permitting the use of modified 600cc motorcycles for the 2004 season, the two veterans could well head up a number of Privateers on such machines. -

- According to a number of riders, the new Unlimited Superbikes will demand more throttle control, cornering- and braking skills than the former 600cc machines. -

- "The machines are much faster than before, but their increased mass demands earlier braking for corners. With about 160 horsepower available, one has to concentrate on really smooth throttle application through and out of corners – all of which makes it really tricky to ride the machines quickly, as opposed to just fast," one of the top riders commented.