WRX – up close and personal

Tickets for the Gumtree World Rallycross of South Africa at Killarney Raceway in Cape Town on the November 24/25 are rapidly selling out – but, for those who cannot get tickets or make it to the circuit there is a chance to get up close and personal.

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The RX Supercars will be making a quick stop at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday, November 22. They will drive in convoy from the back of the Table Bay Hotel and park in the Amphitheatre near the Big Wheel where fans can get a look at the cars and interact directly with the drivers.

It all gets going at 11:00, and it is going to be a sight to behold: metal glistening in the warm summer sun, engines roaring through the streets, rubber burning, tyres screeching.

Petter Solberg will be there, as well as French legend Sebastien Loeb, Mattias Ekstrom, Kevin and Timmy Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud, our very own Ashley Haigh-Smith to mention a few.

“We see this as the precursor to a fantastically fast weekend,” says Claire Cobbledick, General Manger of Gumtree. “The parade will contain all the energy, excitement and power that is going to set the track alight on Saturday and Sunday and, against the majestic natural backdrop that is Cape Town, it is not to be missed. We urge all fans to be there.”

The good news does not stop – and local racer, Ashley Haig-Smith has been confirmed as an entry in the RX2 International Series presented by Cooper Tires, joining 15 other drivers for its 2018 season finale in Cape Town.

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Although best known for his rallying exploits, having competed in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so – and made history as the youngest-ever South African S1600 Champion, Haigh-Smith does have some rallycross experience under his belt. He made his debut in the discipline in last season’s inaugural World RX of South Africa at Killarney International Raceway with Olsbergs MSE.

Twelve months on, the 26-year-old – a Capetonian born-and-bred – is set to return to the fray, but this time in RX2, World RX’s official feeder series. Having caught the rallycross bug, he has struck a deal with Finnish outfit SET Promotion to take the place of Simon Syversen, who has vacated his seat in order to focus his preparations on 2019.

“I can’t wait to get back out on-track for the RX2 season finale in Cape Town,” says Haigh-Smith. “Last year’s event was epic, and it was a real honour to be a part of it. I’m really looking forward to representing South African motorsport and going head-to-head with the current cream of the RX2 crop – there are some extremely talented drivers in the field so it will certainly be a tough challenge, but I love a challenge!

“I need to thank Andreas Eriksson from Olsbergs MSE for the support he has shown me and especially Ian Davies for putting me in contact with Jussi Pinomäki from SET Promotion, who I am looking forward to working with next weekend. I’m passionate about proving that South African drivers can truly excel on the international stage, so hopefully I can go out there and really give the home fans something to cheer about!”

“It’s fantastic to have Ashley joining SET for the final round of RX2 in South Africa,” echoed SET Promotion Team Principal, Pinomäki. “The opportunity for him to drive with us came about because Simon has decided to skip the event as he focusses on his programme for 2019.

“The fact that Ashley has already raced at Killarney in World RX will help him to get up-to-speed more quickly than if everything was new to him. Our two regular RX2 drivers Sami-Matti Trogen and Jami Kalliomäki will go to Cape Town having shown good pace this season, and we will use that experience to help Ashley at his home event. If last year is anything to go by, he will receive huge support from the fans.”

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