Quintin van Jaarsveld
Anticipation is at a fever pitch for what is shaping up to be the most unpredictable Dezzi Invitational Challenge yet when KwaZulu-Natal motorsport’s marquee event takes place at Dezzi South Coast Raceway this weekend.
All roads lead to the scenic Oslo Beach track where two-time defending champion Mike McLoughlin will be the man to beat in his Backdraft BDR4000.
McLoughlin is eyeing a hat-trick but faces what will likely be his toughest test to date as big names, hungry hometown favourites and a surprise late entrant look to dethrone the reigning King of the Dezzi Invitational Challenge.
Aside from the Time Attack, which will feature Ferrari, Porsche, McLaren, Mercedes, BWM, Nissan Skyline GT-R and Subaru machines, petrolheads can also look forward to demos by the Legends.
“We’re extremely excited. This is the highlight of the year for Dezzi South Coast Raceway and it’s going to be our biggest event yet,” track owner Des Gutzeit told eHowzit.
“We have a full field of top cars and drivers and the weather is looking good. It’s going to be exciting racing and I believe the times will be in the low sixteens [1:16].”
A South African motorsport legend as well as a member of one of South Africa’s most renowned racing families bolster this year’s field.
Peter Lindenberg, whose list of accomplishments includes 26 national titles in four different codes, will be a force to be reckoned with in his Ford Mustang Shelby GT600.
So too will be Jaki Scheckter. As the son and nephew of Formula One drivers Ian and Jody, Jaki has the pedigree to prevail and the former South African Formula Ford Championship and Barber Dodge Pro Series winner should be right up there.
The decorated duo will be among the top contenders for the crown along with event co-sponsor BB Hatfield Nissan’s team of drivers, who’ll be behind the wheel of 1000HP GT-R35s.
Duane Galloway, who finished third last year, will be another strong challenger as he returns to his South Coast roots.
Galloway is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb and will be fuelled by the energy of the home crowd.
His father John and Andrew Strike add further local flavour to the event, the trio all driving Nissan Skyline GT-Rs.
Not in the line-up this year is Jade Gutzeit, the runner-up of the last two challenges. The former Roof of Africa winner has opted not to participate in the weekend’s race as he’s fully focused on his motorcycle road racing career.
As always, Des will not be competing in his own event; the same goes for son Shane, the current national drifting championship leader who enjoyed a top 10 showing at the Hillclimb.
The Gutzeits will, however, be represented on the track as 21-year-old Blake (pictured) enters the fray.
The enduro motorcycle ace has been itching to race ever since he suffered a knee injury in the Maxxis FIM SuperEnduro World Championship finale in Madrid, Spain in March.
Now back at 100 percent, Blake will make his four-wheel racing debut this weekend.
“My dad asked me if I wanted to race and I jumped at the opportunity,” he told eHowzit.
“I’ll be driving Shane’s Skyline R32. The guys were still working on the car to get it ready, so I did a few laps for the first time on Wednesday afternoon.
“The car is a very strong four-wheel drive and gets off the line like a rocket. I had a few decent times but I’m not sure how my pace will compare to the other guys.
“I don’t have any expectations…my main goal is to fly the Gutzeit flag high,” he added.
Drivers will get a feel for the track during practice on Friday (from 12). Qualifying takes place on Saturday and Sunday (from 8am), with the 10 fastest drivers advancing to Sunday’s final, which gets underway on at 2pm.
Entry is R80 for adults and free for children under the age of 12. Tickets can be purchased at the gate.