AA Kyalami Weekend News 99-01-30

HISTORY WAS MADE AT AA KYALAMI TODAY History was made at AA Kyalami today (Saturday, January 30), when the first Vodacom Isondo Sport 2000 race was held. The race saw 16 previously-disadvantaged drivers take to the circuit, making it the ...

AA Kyalami Weekend News 99-01-30

HISTORY WAS MADE AT AA KYALAMI TODAY

History was made at AA Kyalami today (Saturday, January 30), when the first Vodacom Isondo Sport 2000 race was held.

The race saw 16 previously-disadvantaged drivers take to the circuit, making it the largest contingent of drivers of colour ever assembled in a single event.

The event was won in smooth, unflustered style by Irshad Jaffer in his Midas-sponsored car. He led from flag to flag, gradually drawing away from the rest of the field as the eight-lap event unfolded.

Behind him, Simon Mosley drove an equally sensible race to finish in a solid second place with his Vodacom Isondo car.

Coming home in the next four places were Nyameko Williams (Scania) Gugulethu Zulu (Smith Wheels) Zenzele Mafokane (Gestetner) and Siphiwe Mangele in his Vodacom-backed vehicle.

A slippery track surface caught a number of competitors. Among those to spin and recover at various points around AA Kyalami were Katlego Moagi, Zakhele Zonele and Piet Ramogale. Ramogale's dramatic rotation at the bottom of the ultra-fast Mineshaft Sweep also caused Zulu to spin his Smith's Wheels car.

Zulu's drive through the field from the back to eventually claim fourth spot overall was one of the highlights of the race.

A total of 15 cars finished the race, and there were many relieved family members in the grandstands.

"Now the dream has really come true," an elated Irshad Jaffer said after the race. "The last two laps felt like an eternity, and the chequered flag was the finest sight I have seen for years."

"We are extremely pleased at the way the race went," said an equally happy Mr Vusi Kunene, the project co-ordinator.

"The fact that 15 of the original 16 starters finished the race is remarkable and I am extremely proud of the drivers and their teams. He pointed out that The Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 contingent only received their first Sports 2000 cars at the end of November last year.

"Since then a large number of volunteers have worked tirelessly to make it all happen."

"The result was today's race and I believe that many critics of the project were silenced," he said.

The next race on the 1999 Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 calendar will be at the Western Cape Killarney circuit on March 6.

SEASON GETS OFF TO A FLYING START AT AA KYALAMI

Johannesburg, Saturday - A couple of reigning South African champions got their season off to a flying start in the Gestetner national meeting - the first of the new South African circuit racing season - at AA Kyalami today.

Stars of the show were reigning Nashua Superbike champion Brett Macleod on the Elf Suzuki, and reigning Wesbank V8 Challenge champion Gary Formato with the Formato Racing Ford Mustang now running with backing from Pennzoil. Both scored comfortable double wins to stake early title claims and, in Formato's case, he looks set to again dominate the Wesbank category.

Macleod, who is down to ride for an Italian team on the provisional entry list for the World Superbike Championship this year, may have started off with a double, but indications are that he won't have it as easy as Formato is likely to find the going. The Superbike series is this year running under FIA Supersport regulations, and once teams get all the early season bugs ironed out where machinery is concerned, there look to be half a dozen riders capable of winning.

Multiple champion Russell Wood, out on the Nashua Yamaha after a long association with Honda, picked up a second and a fourth to get off to a workmanlike start. Other workmanlike results came from Stewart Macleod, on the second Elf Suzuki, and Brad Anassis on the Speedbike Shell Kawasaki and the potential is there for to Superbike brigade to again produce racing out of the top drawer.

The big disappointment of the day saw the Autopage Cellular Castrol Honda squad struggling. Four time champion Greg Dreyer lost out by just one point in last year's championship but was way off the pace today, and the best the much vaunted squad could manage was a second heat fifth place for Graeme van Breda.

Formato dominated both Wesbank heats and picked up where he left off last season. Powerboat ace Peter Lindenberg, in the Gestetner Ford Mustang, was second to Formato on both occasions but even at this early stage there is a big gap between the reigning champion and Lindenberg and company.

Today's meeting produced a number of firsts in South African motor racing. After more than 20 years of running with the 1,6 litre Ford Kent engine, the Sasol Formula Ford category included for the first time a class for the 1,8 litre Ford Zetec engine with the cars also running on slick tyres.

The first heat produced a terrific battle between Jonathan du Toit, in the Big Z Racing Mygale, and 17-year-old Northcliff schoolgirl Tannith Gardner, in the STP Van Diemen, who was last year's Formula GTi runner-up. Du Toit won by a coat of paint after holding off a frustrated Miss Gardner - but then fell foul of race officials for kerb hopping and was docked with a 10 second penalty.

That dropped him to second place and gave Miss Gardner a win first time out in the Sasol Formula Ford series. The roles were reversed in the second race but with a number of other Zetec powered cars scheduled to make an appearance later in the season, the category looks set to provide some highly interesting racing.

SEASON TWO

In other firsts the Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 series, featuring young development drivers, and the Vodacom Sports Prototype categories made their South African debuts. The Vodacom Sports Prototype cars are based on the Shelby Can-Am chassis from the United States with the power coming from V6 engines.

The Vodacom Isondo Sports 2000 cars are powered by Opel two litre motors with the inaugural race won by Irshad Jaffer. He finished around seven seconds ahead of Simon Mosley with Nyameko Williams in third place, with the young drivers acquitting themselves admirably.

The opening Vodacom Sports Prototype race was won by rising star Grant Orbell, who was out in the car owned by Neville Jordan. The Midrand youngster looks likely to campaign overseas again in the International Sports Racing Series, and had too much class for the rest of the field.

Orbell sat out the second race with the win this time going to Kevin Stopford. Reigning Vodacom Sports 2000 champion Riaan Botma and Daan Nortje shared second places was second in the first heat with Daan Nortje second in the both races with the formula showing that there is also plenty of potential for the future.

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