BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series

Biggest shake-up in BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series history as 2024 season dawns

This coming weekend’s (26-27 January) BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series 2024 season opener at the Zwartkops International World of Motoring will see a host of changes and new rules implemented, which are bound to have a significant impact on the pecking order for series and class titles.

The most significant of these changes will be reduced breakout times for Classes B through E. The Class B times will decrease considerably more than those of the rest of the classes in the time-based category. Class B’s breakout time will drop by two seconds for the season opener, with one second each for Classes C, D & E.

On the point of breakouts, the one-time Joker penalty has been removed. Should a competitor break into a faster class going forward, there will be no option to take a 30-second penalty and stay in the Class, with the breakout becoming effective immediately.

Competitors will be further motivated to record faster times by introducing the additional points awarded to the drivers who set the fastest lap per class per race. However, these points will only be attributed after the completion of the race weekend and will not impact the overall classifications per round, which are sorted on race points accumulated.

In 2023, Dunlop Tyres became the sole tyre supplier to competitors in Classes B through E. The 2024 season will see the slick-shod Class A competitors also moving to Dunlop rubber.

The final significant change will alter the grouping of the classes for split races. As the category regularly fields the largest number of entries, splitting the races, particularly around the shorter circuits, became necessary. Previously, this saw Class A through C compete separately from Class D & E. In 2024, Classes A and C will share the circuit, with Classes B, D & E having a separate race.

While classifications are bound to change throughout the Round 1 weekend, many drivers will look to open their 2024 season as title favourites.

Defending Series Champion Leon Loubser will start the weekend as the pick in Class A. Loubser was unstoppable at the corresponding event in 2023 and will look to power his way to another set of race wins. Series debutant Anthony Pretorius will join him in the car vacated by Josh le Roux. Previously, Pretorius competed in the CompCare Polo Cup, Pabar VW Challenge and South African Endurance Series. The weekend will also see a once-off entry from Cape Town’s Nian du Toit, piloting a BMW E36 328i. Du Toit has become well-known as a race engineer and has a successful record in various Western Cape Regional Circuit and Motorcross categories. He also made a competitive cameo appearance in the 2015 Polo Cup against some of the country’s most talented drivers. Bob Neill will miss this event with repairs to his car still underway following his 2023 season finale accident, while William Einkamerer will only be back on the grid later in the season due to car development.

Nek Makris took the Class B honours in 2023 and will aim to continue the fine form he showed in the 2023 season. However, former double series champion Andreas Meier will not settle for the status quo to remain. Renier Smith proved a formidable contender in the 2023 season’s latter half and wants to start the year victoriously. Carlo Garbini will be back after an absence of 11 months, while Lorenzo Gualtieri’s last finish at the circuit in June saw him celebrate with a win.

Nicholas Fischer was the only 2022 Champion to rack up another title in 2023 and will look to make it three in a row. He will start the year defending Class C Champion. He can expect many challenges with 18 drivers starting the weekend in the midfield class. 2023 rivals Troy Cochran, Alan Hilligenn, Hein van der Merwe and Jan Eversteyn will all be back again. Bennie Luyt, Bernard de Gouveia, Nick Naidoo and Varish Ganpath all stepped up their game in the closing stages of the year and will aim to establish themselves as frontrunners early on. Ryan Naicker will look to build on his impressive debut in the 2023 season finale, while former Class B competitors Oz Biagioni and Jaco Storm will be back in Class C. Capetonian Marco Retter, who took a win-on-debut in Gqeberha, will start his first full campaign in the series. Last year’s runner-up in the title fight, Reinhardt Miller, will make his first appearance in his new BMW E36 328i Turbo and will move up from Class D, which he won.

Nicholas Herbst is determined to establish himself as Miller’s successor but will face fierce competition. George Economides, a regular Zwartkops wild-card entry, delivered two excellent performances in the 2023 season finale and will return for more. Theuns Nel, Shane Grobler and Neil Reynolds will all drop back into Class D and look to re-establish themselves as frontrunners. Grobler will compete in the BMW E46 330i, formerly piloted by Lenard Archer, with the latter missing the season opener while waiting for his new car to be completed. Dave Rehse, who led the overall points table for the first half of 2023, will look to get back to his victorious ways. Jacques Smith will also look to impress following his strong debut, while Paolo Cavalieri will start his second successive race weekend, however this time behind the wheel of his BMW E23 745i Modified, driven by Tony Viana, in the Wesbank Modified Saloon Cars Championship.

Class E Champion Arri van Heerden will also look to start his title defence with a brace of victories but will have to hold off Cobus Bohmer, Johan Miller, Zaheer Seedat and Zeyad Ismail, who return to Class E from D. Female drivers Caren Nienaber and Mariaan Emmenis will look to improve on their stellar debut seasons. Debutants include Roland Hopkins, Ludovic Caron, Jakkie Storm, Stefano Cavalieri, and Cristiano Verolini. The latter will pilot the BMW Car Club Gauteng Track Taxi.

The season opener will mark the fourth consecutive occasion that the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series will form part of the Passion for Speed roster. The packed programme for the weekend will see Qualifying taking place on Friday afternoon.

Saturday race programme will see the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series take to the circuit at:

07:50 – Classes A & C – 10 Laps

10:20 – Classes B, D & E – 10 Laps

13:30 – Classes A & C – 10 Laps

17:20 – Classes B, D & E – 10 Laps

Spectator tickets for the 2024 Passion for Speed event can be purchased via Computicket beforehand or at the Zwartkops International World of Motoring entrance gate on Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s full race day will also be broadcast live on the BMW ///M Performance Parts Race Series Facebook page and the 2WheelsTV YouTube channel.

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