Although regulation changes threaten to dilute the rivalry between BMW and Alfa Romeo in the Sahara Production Car championship, the racing at Phakisa will be very intense on Saturday!

Although regulation changes threaten to dilute the rivalry between BMW and Alfa Romeo in the Sahara Production Car championship, the racing at Phakisa will be pretty intense on Saturday!

Thirty-one contenders, representing nine manufacturers, will participate in Rounds Five and Six of their 2005 national title chase at the Free State raceway near Welkom.

Following a string of overall victories, works Castrol BMW 330i pilot Anthony Taylor, backed by team-mate Hennie Groenewald, will be the ones to beat in Class A. The factory Squadra Corse team, with their Samsung Alfa Romeo 147 GTA models driven by Reghardt Roets and Morne Jurgens, will take the fight to BMW.

Roets has proven to be the season’s most successful Alfa driver thus far, and he will certainly be in the hunt for overall victories in the Free State. However, Motorsport South Africa (MSA) recently changed the maximum base weight difference between front- and rear-wheel drive competitors in a move Squadra Corse said would make its 147 GTAs less competitive.

When the 147 GTAs joined the production car championship in 2004, the new front-wheel drive contenders had a base weight 50 kg lighter than that of rear-wheel drive title defenders, BMW. By October 2004, MSA reduced the weight advantage to 30 kg and after the first round of the 2005 championship at Kyalami, 20 kg.

For Saturday’s races, MSA has again announced changes to the base weight requirements. this week quoted Alfa as saying that the 10 kg weight advantage would not suitably compensate for its front-wheel drive disadvantage.

If Alfa Romeo continues to struggle, as it did at Killarney, Gary Formato and Duncan Vos, in the Sasol AE Nissan works team’s two 350Z sports cars, could be BMW’s biggest challengers.

"Since the Killarney race meeting we have made a few changes,” said Nissan team manager Glyn Hall. “We have made some technical improvements to the brakes and will revert for the meantime to a manual system while we further develop the production car's ABS to suit the racing car”.

Meanwhile, in Class B, the supercharged Mini Cooper S cars of Martin Steyn (GP Windscreens), Shaun van der Linde (Castrol) and Craig Nicholson (Sabat) should set the pace.

Marco da Cunha will join Class B in a Fiat Stilo 2,4 Abarth this weekend and his fellow Fiat Stilo racers will be Angus Thompson, Mike O’Sullivan and Dawie Brough.

They will face Team Sasol’s Dave Compton and Phillip Kekana - both in Sasol Delight Toyota RunX RSi models - with veteran Brian Martin to field a similar vehicle in Havoline colours.

Expect an improved performance from the turbodiesel Mercedes-Benz C270 CDI models of Garth Waberski and Hector North, who will be competing under the respective banners of Seagull Autogas and Tommibar, at Phakisa.

Factory Motorola Fiat Palio pilot Theunis Eloff will be the man to beat in Class C. Molefe Lebethe, Paulo da Cunha, Trevor Tuck and Guy Botterill will also be fielding Palios in that class.

The Italian light cars team will be challenged by the works M&R Ford Ikon of Clint Weston, the Delo VW Polo TDi of Eckhart Schoenknecht and VW CitiGolf 1,6i cars of Rob Preuss, Francois van Zyl and privateer Mark Silverwood.

Original article from Car