03 Aug Exciting motorsport in prospect at Killarney
Exciting motorsport in prospect at Killarney.
1: The International Supertruck meeting at Killarney in 1997, attracted a record crowd.
2: That figure is expected to be exceeded by the final round of the rallycross world championship at the same venue, in mid-November.
Everyone at the Killarney International Raceway is busy preparing for what is almost certainly going to be the most satisfying and exciting six months in the history of South Africa’s oldest motorsport complex.
During the course of its 70 year existence, Killarney has grown from what was originally no more than a seldom used, simple triangulated apology for a race track that was narrow and less than a kilometre in total lap distance, to what it is today.
Today, with a selection of road surfaces, that interlock in certain areas and are divided and sub-divided into a variety of circuits, the complex caters for every known form of car and motorcycle competition.
It actually goes beyond that, because the record spectator attendance at a Killarney promotion occurred in 1997, when the Western Province Motor Club staged a giant international Supertruck meeting on the main circuit. Sponsored by Continental Tyres, it was an unprecedented success.
But back to the future. Because expectations are that the final round of the IMG Monster Rallycross title chase in November, that is going to be the first ever world championship motorsport event to be held in the Western Cape, is going to attract an even larger crowd than the Supertrucks.
The twisty, compact Killarney rallycross event is being run on a recently completed track that includes a section of the main circuit, but is only about a third of its size. Of course, this is a great spectator advantage, as almost all the action can be seen from anywhere on the grandstands or grassed public banking.
While the rallycross sections of the main circuit all retain their original asphalt topping, the jump and infield areas have a gravel surface. An interesting feature of Turn 2, a tight hairpin bend on the main circuit that used to be known as Quarry Corner, is that it now also forms part of the stock car oval, as well as the rallycross track. And if that’s not enough, it is also used for multiple short circuit racing events.
At the other end, Turn 3 (originally Damps Dip), is now a double corner, with a longer section that is designed to add at least two seconds to the lap time. Drivers must use the second section at least once in every race, but are allowed to decide on which lap they want to exercise their option.
The track’s finishing touches are currently being applied and if all goes according to plan and the weather holds off, the circuit will be open for the first testing sessions for prospective local rallycross drivers on Saturday morning (July 22). The afternoon is reserved for the first stock car practice, prior to the opening round of their 2017 / 2018 summer racing season.
Other major events before the year end are going to include a special Woman’s Day Power Series meeting on Wednesday August 9, the Woman’s Day public holiday.
The Cape round of the national Extreme Festival on September 9 will be followed a week later by special stages of round seven of the South African Rally Championship.
Killarney’s celebration of its 70 year heritage is combined with a national Drags meeting. It will be the third major event in the month, on September 23, just a day before the “real” Heritage Day public holiday.
The big one the following month is the 2017 Argus Killarney Motor Show on the weekend of October 14 / 15. The Show is due to take place on the Sunday, with the previous day reserved for the participants to set up their exhibits.
As mentioned at the start of this article, the most important event of the year will be the last round of the IMG Monster World Rallycross Championship on November 10 / 11 / 12.
But that’s not all, because unlike the mythical dust-cart that is said to follow the London Lord Mayor’s Show, the traditional Killarney Streetfest on Wednesday, December 27, is always popular and a fitting end to the season.
While those may be all the major events, the complex is going to be busy on every other weekend of the year, staging regional main circuit events, an all tar rally, karting, drag racing, drifting, short circuit racing, a motorcycle endurance race and a variety of track days – several of which overlap.