2002 BRIDGESTONE/AUTOQUIP SOUTH AFRICAN KARTING CHAMPIONSHIP - FINAL ROUND: THE BATTLES OF VEREENIGING

This year's South African Karting Championship will be concluded in Vereeniging next Friday and Saturday (September 27/ 28), with all five of the contested national titles to be fought for.

The third and final round of the 2002 Bridgestone Autoquip Karting title chase should see a total of more than 120 drivers take to the Vereeniging Action Karting circuit.

Topping the programme in performance terms will be the 125 Grand Prix Class, using 28 kW TM engines and six-speed gearboxes to reach speeds of up to 150 km/h on the Vereeniging track.

Following the season's eight races thus far, multiple national champion Leeroy Poulter tops the title points log driving for the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team. He will face a tough challenge at Vereeniging, topped by Jimmy Auby (Birel), former champion Bjorn Roos (CRG) and youngster Marc Murray, who won the last four races of the year in his CRG.

Any of the top four competitors could take the title, with Birel drivers Jerred Mortimer, Mark Auby and Kevin Erasmus ready and able to interfere with their plans.

Even tougher combat should resolve the year's South African 100 Super Championship, with veteran racers Robert Briggs (Tony Kart) and Gavin Cronje' (Kosmic) locked in a season-long fight for supremacy. Wesleigh Orr (Birel), Guy Botteril (Tony Kart) Armani Jamrozinski (Birel) and Bryan Morgan (Tony Kart) could all snatch race victories, to complicate the title fight.

In the 100 Stock Class, no fewer than seven drivers could emerge from Vereeniging as the year's South African title holder. They are Jonathan Vilaca (Cosmic), Matthew Hodges (Birel), Wiaan Swart (Birel), Kyle Lawrence (Cosmic), Andre' van der Merwe (Cosmic) plus Birel drivers Ralph Odendaal and Mario Ras.

Traditionally the closest-fought class in local karting, the 100 Stock brigade's Qualifying session could well produce a grid with the times of the top 20 drivers covered by half a second or less.

In terms of numbers, the Junior GP category will reign, with more than 40 Allkart Comer karts on the official entry list. Mercedes-Benz Junior Team members Henry Steel, Trent Williams and Tasmin Pepper top the title chase, closely challenged by Dean Lester and Raymond Johnson.  Other drivers who could interfere will include Tatum Galway, Olivier Calkoen, Chassen Bright, Simon Moss and Kyle Mitchell.

Rounding out the national programme will be races for the Formula 100 Class, competing as a South African Championship for the last time this year.

Four drivers - Dale Garvie (Tony Yamaha), Jonathan Gunn (Cosmic PCR), George Barkhuizen (Arrow Yamaha) and Tavis Basing (Cosmic Yamaha) can snatch the title this weekend.

The weekend's action will start early on Friday, September 27, with Unofficial Practice sessions for all of the classes from 7.30am. This will be followed by Official Qualifying sessions for all classes between 11am and 2.20pm, with competitors tackling their first of the meeting's four race heats between 2.30pm and 4pm.

On Saturday, September 28, racing proper will take place between 10.45am and 3.30pm, with practice sessions earlier in the morning. All competitors will be required to tackle three races on the Saturday, ensuring a full day's brilliant spectacle.

Admission to the Action Karting circuit will be free of charge, parking will be plentiful in the Vereeniging Show Grounds, food and drink will be on sale, and the circuit office has more information on (016)-422-1028.