While Mackie Adlem, Franco di Matteo and Thomas Reib will do battle for the 2021 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars title, the season finale at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit next weekend (December 2-4) will also play host to the challenge between three legends of V8 racing in South Africa.
The challenge, laid down by Ben Morgenrood, will see him go head-to-head with Larry Wilford and Sarel van der Merwe. Being mindful of the title battle as well as various points table battles that are still to be decided, the trio of drivers have also elected to start at the back of the grid in both races; thereby not interfering with the points contenders.
Currently known as the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars, the origins of the series dates back to the days of the Wesbank Modified Saloon Cars category. In 1996, the series moved to a model based on the American Trans-Am series. Only a handful of drivers who are still racing have competed in all incarnations of the series with Morgenrood, Wilford and Van der Merwe being three of the best-known names in that group. The rivalry between these three drivers produced some of the fiercest battles in South African motorsport in the last 50 years.
On the series’ last visit to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, as part of the 2019 Festival of Motoring, Morgenrood finished on the podium in the first race in his Morgenrood Ford & Mazda Ford Mustang. Since then, Morgenrood has been a regular competitor in various other forms of sprint and endurance racing. Round 5 at Zwartkops Raceway saw him make his first Mobil 1 V8 Supercars outing in 26 months. The purpose of this was to prepare for the season finale as well as test an experimental tyre, resulting in him not being eligible to score championship points. He did finish the day with a race victory following a good tussle with Terry Wilford.
In this trio of drivers, Larry Wilford is the only one to still regularly participate in the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars series. His most recent outing was in Round 3 of this season’s championship, held at Zwartkops Raceway as part of the Passion for Speed event. Like in his previous outing, Wilford will be competing in his Fuchs Lubricants Chevrolet Corvette and as a regular contender, he could well find himself with a slight upper hand over his two rivals.
Sarel van der Merwe is a name that hardly requires any introduction. On track and in rallies, both local and abroad, he has become one of the most respected South African motorsport icons. For the last few years, Van der Merwe’s participation has been limited to one-off and invitational races. This coming round will be Van der Merwe’s motorsport swansong, an occasion for which he chose to pilot a Mobil 1 V8 Supercar for the first time in nearly 20 years. The car that he will be driving, is the Car Care Clinic / Mangaza Ford Mustang driven by Rachelle du Plessis in the penultimate round.
Nicole Jooste, Marketing Manager for African Group Lubricants, is excited ahead of the season finale; which will form part of the Kyalami 9 Hour event. “In every sense, this will be the biggest weekend on our calendar. Not only will we be crowning the 2021 Champion in South Africa’s premier category at a season finale taking place at the country’s most prestigious circuit and as part of the only international motorsport event on the local calendar. We are also bringing back some of the biggest names in history while having the privilege of setting the stage for Sarel’s farewell race. This is exactly where you would expect South Africa’s leading lubricant, Mobil 1, to be involved and we cannot wait for the weekend to start.”
The weekend will see three Practice sessions on Thursday ahead of Friday morning’s qualifying session. The first race is scheduled to take place at 13:45 on Friday with the weekend and season’s final race taking place at 08:30 on Saturday. Both races will be contested over eight laps.
Spectator tickets can be purchased on https://www.kyalami9hour.com/. Broadcast and streaming information will be communicated through the course of next week.
Published by: Reynard Gelderblom
Picture Caption: Mobil 1 V8 Supercars Kyalami 2019
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