Zwartkops plays host to Rounds 13 and 14 of the local production car championship this weekend, and races at the “smallest” racing circuit on the calendar have been split to accommodate the angry swarm of cars.

Zwartkops plays host to Rounds 13 and 14 of the local production car championship this weekend, and races at the “smallest” racing circuit on the calendar have been split to accommodate the angry swarm of cars.

From Saturday’s 40-car field, Classes A and T will run first, while Classes B and C will follow round the 2,4-km circuit.

In Class A, Anthony Taylor goes into the first race with his works BMW 330i with seven winds from 12 races. He also has the added support of his team-mates, Hennie Groenewald and Etienne van der Linde in identical cars.

Taylor’s main rival, however, is likely to come from the Sasol AE Nissan 350Z of Gary Formato, who already has a few race wins under his belt in the car’s début season. Formato knows the circuit well, and with his factory team-mate Duncan Vos, the 350Z duo should make a powerful combination.

"We're reasonably pleased with our progress thus far, but have been putting in a lot of effort to improve and add the all-important wins to our record," said Glyn Hall, general manager of Nissan Motorsport.

"Zwartkops is a circuit that provides its own unique challenge, in the form of a very changeable track surface," said Hall. "Although we have tested our cars there and have some useful information to help us set them up effectively, we haven't tested in the company of our rivals in class A of the Sahara championship. So we won't really know where we stand until we start practising together on Thursday.”

Zwartkops’ tight and twisty layout should favour the front-wheel driven Samsung Alfa 147 GTAs of Reghardt Roets, Morné Jurgens and Marc Auby. Whether this will translate into victories for the team-mates is unclear, though the presence of Michael Stephen and Tschops Sipuka aboard the Engen Audi A4 3,2 V6 works cars should make for interesting action.

Privateers who could provide surprises in the class will include Steven Morris in his BMW 330i and Melvill Priest with his Audi A4 3,2 V6.

The gutsy Class T entrants of Shaun van der Linde, Martin Steyn and Craig Nicholson will be engaged in their own Mini Cooper S-battle, though mindful of the Class A war raging about them.

In the heats for Class B and C cars, Class B runners Dave Compton and Phillip Kekana should head the pack in their Sasol Toyota RSi entries. However, the Motorola Fiat Stilo Abarth entries of Mike O’Sullivan and Dawie Brough, along with the Seagull Autogas Mercedes-Benz C270 CDI of Garth Waberski, should make their tasks more tough.

Other podium hopefuls include Delon Williams (Adrien Tee Peugeot 206 GTi), Brian Martin (Havoline Toyota RunX RSi), Angus Thompson (Topcar Fiat Stilo Abarth) and Bert Grogor (German Workshop Toyota RunX RSi). Rounding out the class will be Marco da Cunha (Fiat Stilo Abarth) and Hector North in the Tommibar Mercedes-Benz C270 CDI.

In Class C, Theunis Eloff currently heads the pack in his works Motorola Fiat Palio. However, Eckhardt Schoenknecht has captured three of the last four victories in his Delo VW Polo 1,9 TDi and his turbocharged engine should have an advantage at altitude.

"With just four rounds of the championship left I need to finish ahead of championship leader Theunis Eloff, and second placed Eckhart Schoenknecht, this weekend if I am to stand a chance of winning the title," said Clint Weston, currently third on the log with his M&R Foundry Digidoor Ford Ikon 1,6.

"The turbo-charged diesel Polo of Schoenknecht is the biggest danger as the car is producing so much horsepower and torque that we just can't compete. At altitude and with the steep climb at Zwartkops it will have an even bigger advantage over us," Weston continued.

"Fortunately, this time around we will only run with 10kg of success ballast, which will help us to be more competitive, and hopefully I can get two strong finishes. The Ikon is a great handling car, which will help us at Zwartkops as the circuit rewards a car that handles well,” he concluded.

Other drivers in Class C include Motorola Fiat Palio 1,6 pilots Trevor Tuck, Guy Botterill and Molefe Lebethe, John Kruger (Ford Fiesta 1,6), plus VW CitiGolf 1,6 pilots Rob Preuss and Mark Silverwood.