New rules, new bikes in SA Superbikes
New regulations, the return of two marques, and a variety of new rider/motorcycle combinations will put a whole new spin on this year's South African Superbike series, set to start at Kyalami on Saturday 23 February.
Two separate championships for 1000cc Superbikes and 600cc Supersport machines will be run to international Super Stock regulations - which has prompted the return of Yamaha and MV Agusta to the local racing fray.
But the brand at the top of the Superbike entry list at Kyalami will be reigning Manufacturers' champion BMW, with two brand new HP4 models to be ridden by hot young riders Chris Leeson and Ryan Ottens.
BMW's current South African Superbike champion Greg Gildenhuys will be in Europe this year, competing in the World Superstock championship.
Yamaha will return to local circuit racing under Ricky Morias' Emtek banner, running new R1's for Robert Portman and Dylan White.
The 'official' Kawasaki team will field ZX-10R entries in the hands of Nicolas Grobler, Nick Kershaw and Stephen Steenkamp, while Clint Seller will race a privateer ZX-10R in Brad Anassis' Portable Shade colours.
More confirmed entries for the opening Kyalami race are Colin Lehman (Kawasaki ZX-10R) and Etienne Nelson (BMW S1000 RR).
Veteran Lance Isaacs will lead the 600cc charge on a 'works' Kawasaki ZX-6R - but he'll face stern opposition from former team mates Brent Harran and Cameron Petersen, out on new MV Agusta F3's in Portable Shade livery.
These exotic Italian three-cylinder machines are a completely unknown quantity, and their progress will be watched with great interest
Morais has entered Yamaha R6's for Dean Vos and lady racer Janine Mitchell, while teenager Anthony Shelley will race a semi-works Kawasaki ZX-6R in Shop 74 colours.
Both classes will race on Pirelli rubber this season; riders in the 600cc class are allowed two front and two rear tyres for each race meeting (that's practice, qualifying and two races) while Superbike riders are allowed two front and three rear tyres.
One set of tyres is used for practice, while the other stays on the bike for qualifying and both races, except that Superbikes may use the extra tyre for Race 2 if they haven't already shredded it in practice.
In either case, race day entails at least 35 laps of full tilt boogie, which is about as much as the Pirellis can handle, so tyre management and riding strategy will also come into play at every round as the tyres go off during Race 2.