The opening round of the 2021 Mobil 1 V8 Supercars season will take place at Killarney International Raceway this coming weekend (March 19-20).
This will be the first time the series will be visiting South Africa's most southern circuit in nearly seven years. Originally the venue was due to host the series in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shortened season saw the event cancelled. The circuit was retained on the calendar for the new season as per the strategy to rotate coastal visits. This will also be the first time in recent years that the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars season will be starting at a coastal venue, a change brought on by the postponement of the Passion for Speed event, which was scheduled for the last weekend of January.
This means that the season will start with a double-points scoring round. Taking the upper hand in Cape Town could catapult a title contender into a strong position at an early stage.
Mackie Adlem (#1 Adlem Auto Jaguar XKR) will be one of the favourites to do so. The reigning champion is only one of a handful of competitors to have prior experience at the circuit in a V8 Supercar. Thomas Reib (#9 Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina) is another driver who knows all about taking an early advantage.
In 2020 he was the points leader for most of the season, but a drama-filled season finale saw him finish as runner-up. Although this will be his first V8 Supercars race at the circuit, he has competed at the venue in both Shelby Can-Aams and the South African Endurance Series during the early part of the previous decade. Franco di Matteo (#3 Deltec Batteries Jaguar XKR) is one of the country's most experienced drivers. He has raced at the circuit in both this series and the South African Endurance Series.
Two other drivers who competed in the previous outing at the circuit and who will make their experience in the series count for them are Steve Herbst (#7 PPG Coatings / Prei Instrumentation / Q1 Systems Chevrolet Corvette) and Terry Wilford (#21 Fuchs Lubricants Ford Falcon).
Some of the more recent series additions like Andre de Lange (#33 Roofsure Jaguar XKR), Julian Fameliaris (#20 Lube-Net Chevrolet Corvette) and David Coetzee (#53 ELKSA Competition / Adlem Auto Ford Falcon) will also be arriving at the circuit with prior experience; albeit in other categories. De Lange competed at the Cape Town leg of the Passion for Speed event and the VW Challenge Championship on numerous occasions. Both Fameliaris and Coetzee competed at the circuit for the first time in the 2020 South African 9 Hour race in which they competed as teammates.
Warren Lombard (#6 Pepboys Automotive / Pace Car Rentals Ford Falcon) only have five rounds in the series to his name but impressed at the start in 2020 by taking his first podium in just his second outing. The circuit will be a new one for him to learn, but he has already shown great skill in mastering new circuits since he joined the series. Finlands's Sam Dahl (Ford Falcon) already finds himself in South Africa to complete his mandatory quarantine period and is eager to learn both the new car and circuit.
Bevan Schwarz (#19 Alco Trucks Chevrolet Corvette) will be making his first appearance in the series since 2018's visit to East London. Johnny Eekhout (#24 Johnspeed Cobra Chevrolet Corvette) will be making Cape Town's trip following his horrific crash in the 2020 season finale. Roelf du Plessis (#22 LSP Chevrolet Corvette) will also be making the grid, driving Corrie Volschenk's spare car for this round.
The Mobil 1 V8 Supercars season opener will form part of 2021's first National Extreme Festival. Friday will see three practice sessions ahead of Saturday morning's Qualifying session. Both races on Saturday will be over a 12-lap distance and are scheduled to start at 13:35 and 17:35.
The resumption of sport in South Africa under the National State of Disaster is still subject to a prohibition on spectator attendance. The event will be streamed online via the Extreme Festival's Facebook page.