Brian Joss – The Engen Volkswagen Polo Cup series – one of South Africa’s longest surviving national circuit racing disciplines, will take on an entirely new look in 2018.
The 2018 title chase will start at the Kyalami circuit on Saturday, March 24, forming part of the opening round of this year’s Extreme Festival series.
The new Engen Polo Cup race cars will be powered by Volkswagen’s tried and trusted two-litre turbocharger GTI engine, using a Motec engine management system to produce 155 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque.
The power will be transmitted to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, with the cars shod in 17-inch Dunlop semi-slick tyres.
An innovation will be a Push to Pass facility, which will enable drivers to briefly access 170 kW of power once per lap.
Initial testing has shown the new Engen Polo Cup cars to be considerably quicker than their predecessors, but the formula’s basic reason for being has not changed.
“Engen Polo Cup racing was created years ago to give talented young South African race car drivers a ladder of opportunity, with the best of them destined to move on to other, more premier formulas”, said Mike Rowe, Volkswagen’s Motorsport and VW Driving Academy Manager.
“That mission statement has not changed, and we feel that the 2018 crop of drivers will produce exactly the kind of fearsomely competitive racing that has become a hallmark of the formula, ” Rowe added.
Top contenders at Kyalami should include Pepper Racing’s Tasmin Pepper (Electric Life Polo), Shaun La Reservee (Alpine Motors Polo), Jason Campos (Campos Transport Polo), Keegan Campos (Campos Transport Polo), Darren Oates (Payen Polo), Alton Bouw (Champion Ferodo Polo) and Clinton Bezuidenhout (Glyco Polo).
Haupt Racing will bring Juan Gerber (Glasfit Polo), Paulus Franken (Manitou Group Polo), Charl Wilken (VW Polo) and Justin Oates (VW Polo) to the battlefield.
Representing TB Racing will be Volkswagen Motorsport’s youngsters Jonathan Mogotsi and Raais Asmal in works cars, Shivesh Bissoon (Steaming Bean Etch Tech Polo) and Benjamin Habig (VW Polo).
Lee Thompson Racing will field Simon Need (Photonics Polo) and Delon Thompson (VW Polo) while Jeffrey Kruger and Johan Pretorius will fly the Universal Healthcare flag.
VM Innovations will see to the entry of Daniel Duminy (SMD Group Polo), while Nathans Motorsport will enter the cars of Wouter Roos and Peet Visagie.
“Speculation about the probable podium chasers is rife, but the real answers will come on Friday, when the contenders take to Kyalami for the first time,” Rowe said.