A 57-driver-strong entry list is set to start the 2023 season of the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series at Zwartkops Raceway this weekend (27-28 January) as part of the annual Passion of Speed Festival.
This is the third consecutive occasion that the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series will feature on the roster of the invitational event, the du facto South African circuit racing season opener.
While the final entry classifications will only be completed once the weekend’s official timed sessions commence, a host of frontrunners in the five classes are eager to continue their battles that provided some of the most competitive racing in 2022.
William Einkamerer, who took the Class A spoils last year, will look to defend his title against Leon Loubser, Fabio Fedetto and Arri van der Berg. All five drivers had moments of dominance in the past year and will look to head the pack into the first corner.
Class B produced some of the fiercest contests within the front group, and with a host of regular protagonists returning, 2023 is not expected to disappoint. Reigning class champion Andreas Meier will have his work cut out against the likes of Carlo Garbini, Lorenzo Gualtieri, and Salvi Gualtieri.
Lyle Ramsay, who delivered a stand-out performance in last year’s season finale, is also looking to be a force to be reckoned with in the class. Renier Smith broke into Class B in the season finale and is also a prospective challenger for podium positions. Thomas Potgieter elected to change back to semi-slick tyres and will start the season in Class B.
With reigning Class C champion Trevor Long changing cars and starting in Class E, the Class C battle will be wide open. The likes of Troy Cochran, Dewit Oosthuizen, Hein van der Merwe, and Dawie Olivier will be some of the early frontrunners, judging by their form in 2022.
Jan Eversteyn has elected to move to Class C this year and will be in the reckoning as well. Vigen Naidu and Nick Naidoo, both newcomers last year, are eager to contend for the top spots. Oz Biagioni, who rebuilt his car following a horrific mid-season incident, has nominated to start 2023 in Class C.
Class D regularly had multi-car battles for the honours at the front, which are set to continue with class champion Shane Grobler eager to head things up. Nicholas Herbst delivered stellar performances in 2022 and aims for an even stronger campaign in the new year. Manny Ribeiro will aim to repeat his strong start to the season. Anand Naidu has been a regular at the front, while Bernard de Gouveia has been moving ever closer to the leading pack. Jaco Storm, Neil Pillay and Bennie Luyt will also look to improve on their superb form after debuting in the latter half of 2022. Long could possibly become a contender in this class over the weekend.
Taking into account that a host of newcomers will start the weekend in Class E, it is impossible to predict who the top contenders will be. The reigning series and class champion bought a new car and will likely move up the field. His 2022 rivals Dave Rehse, Shaun Dodd and Bertie Rietveld will not neglect to make their presence known following their strong finishes to their 2022 campaigns.
A staggering host series of newcomers will likely upset a few applecarts in the season opener. Heading up this list is the reigning Global Touring Cars SupaCup champion Leyton Fourie, who will compete in the first couple of rounds before heading to Europe to start his BMW M2 Cup campaign. Fourie has taken the title in every series he competed in and is set to establish himself as an early frontrunner.
2022 saw a host of KwaZulu-Natal-based drivers like Anand Naidu, Nick Naidoo, Neil Pillay, and Nishal Singh join the field as regulars, and for the start of 2023, the series welcomes some of Cape Town’s most prominent names to the grid. Anwar Levy, Andre Diedericks and Mansoor Parker are some of the coastal city’s most experienced campaigners. Particularly Parker is looking at becoming a series-regular.
Caren Nienaber will become the first female driver to compete in the series in nearly four seasons. Gary Martins was one of the earliest debutants to be announced.
It has become common practice around shorter circuits like Zwartkops Raceway for the field to be split into two racing groups, with the season opener seeing this being continued. This will start with Friday afternoon's qualifying session. Classes D and E will start Saturday's programme with their first race at 07:20. Classes A, B and C's race programme will commence at 10:15. The respective second races are scheduled for 13:20 and 16:10.
Spectator tickets for both Friday and Saturday can be purchased in advance at Computicket here. Saturday’s full race programme will be streamed live via the BMW Car Club Gauteng Facebook page and 2WheelsTV YouTube Channels.