Mobil 1 V8 Supercars

Who will draw first blood in the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars Zwartkops season opener?

This weekend (March 1-2) will see an exciting new chapter for the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars championship commence, with everyone eager to see who will emerge as the early title-favourite at Zwartkops Raceway.

Mobil 1 V8 Supercars at Zwartkops Raceway

Already, 2024 is confirmed to be the longest season for the series in quite a few years, with eight championship rounds, and it has been roughly an equal number of years since a season started with Mackie Adlem not lining up us as the defending Champion.

The latter privilege belongs to Julian Fameliaris (Lube-Net / Di Matteo Racing Chevrolet Corvette). Still the youngest driver in the series, Fameliaris won at least one race in each of 2023’s seven rounds en route to his maiden Mobil 1 V8 Supercars title. However, at age 30, this will not be the first time he will be starting a season as the man to beat, having previously done so in the BMW Race Series, where he won the title in 2016. In fact, in five years on the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars grid, he has grown into an accomplished driver, ready to become the next multiple Champion.

Julian Fameliaris starts his first year as Champion

But with Adlem, who finished his swansong year as runner-up, no longer on the grid, it does not mean that 2024 will be easier for Fameliaris by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the last two rounds of 2023, also held at Zwartkops Raceway, indicated that his rivals are equally eager to raise the most coveted trophy in South African motorsport.

Thomas Reib (Mobil 1 / Café 9 Automotive Chevrolet Lumina) has been a regular at the front for numerous years. While he regularly set the pace in 2023’s practice sessions, he wants to convert that into more meaningful results in qualifying. As he has shown on numerous occasions, he is notoriously difficult to pass once he is at the front, the prime position to launch his title crusade. Having missed the last round due to a shoulder operation, Reib will be further motivated to show his strength early.

Thomas Reib returns from the sidelines.

For Warren Lombard (PepBoys Automotive), 2023 was a frustrating season. When he did not have to contend with technical issues in his Ford Falcon, he quickly had to familiarise himself with a borrowed Ford Falcon and Jaguar XKR. Given all these issues, matching his best fourth-place championship result was a significant achievement. However, the season finale finale saw him unveil the Ford Mustang that will be his chariot in the 2024 campaign, with the early pace looking promising. Lombard debuted in the series only a few months after Fameliaris and wants to emerge as the next new Champion.

Few drivers will be as eager to bounce back to the top as Terry Wilford (Fuchs Lubricants Ford Mustang). Not only did he finish 2023 in sixth place, but it was also the first season in quite some time where his scorecard did not include a win or podium. However, a significant amount of time was spent developing his car, which he is confident will put him in a position to challenge for the title. Starting the new year with a win will be a superb start to his campaign.

Warren Lombard’s in his new Ford Mustang

In 2023, Sam Dahl (ArcProtech Ford Falcon) missed a few rounds due to professional commitments that did not allow for adequate travel time from Finland. However, the rounds he competed in have shown him to make significant improvements, and he will be eager to move up the pecking in his fourth season in the series. 

2024 will also see the first full season for the GT2 class, where Steve Herbst (Prei Instrumentation / PPG Coatings / QI Systems Chevrolet Corvette) will start as the defending Champion. Like Fameliaris, he will also face fierce competition to retain the title.

Andrew Katay (Katay Racing Chevrolet Corvette) had a host of engine-related challenges in his two prior outings but has maintained that his debut season only served as preparation for a strong challenge in 2024. Auke Compaan (Hurricane Motorsport Ford Mustang) will have a similar motto heading into the new year.

Steve Herbst will start 2024 as the GT2 Champion

The class will see two newcomers for the 2024 season opener. One of them, Johnny Eekhout (Johnspeed Chevrolet Corvette), last competed in the 2022 season opener and will now shift to the GT2 class. Shaun Holtzhauzen (Ford Falcon) will make his debut in the series.

Nicole Jooste, African Group Lubricants’ Marketing Manager, looks forward to the new season. “2024 will be our sixth season as the naming rights partner through the Mobil 1 brand. It has been an incredible journey for us, and with the excitement in the air ahead of the season opener, this year will even be bigger and better. The Extreme Festival always provides a magnificent opportunity to showcase the quality of our products to a large audience by putting them to the test in extreme conditions.”

The season opener will form part of the first Extreme Festival event of 2024, with both Saturday’s races being contested over 10 laps. The races will start at 12:20 and 15:15.

Spectator tickets can be purchased at the Zwartkops Raceway entrance gate or beforehand from the office. The full race day programme will also be broadcast live on the Mobil 1 V8 Supercars Facebook page and 2WheelsTV YouTube channel.

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