Volkswagen Media Challenge Drivers Confirmed

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The eight drivers set to compete at Kyalami in the Volkswagen Media Challenge powered by the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists and backed by Cell-C, have been confirmed. Alphabetically, the Media grid will comprise Andrew Leopold, Denis Droppa, Mark Jones, Michele Lupini, Sean Nurse, Mark and Lindsay Smyth, and Janine van der Post.

“Now that the drivers are in place and the cars are being built in Uitenhage, this race is no longer just an idea but reality,” Matt Gennrich, General Manager Communications at Volkswagen Group South Africa explained. “Not surprisingly, the response from the selected drivers was an immediate and unanimous ‘yes’ and we are looking forward to the mutually beneficial outcomes that this media challenge will provide for all the stakeholders.”

The eight journalists are most excited and champing at the bit to get out and race, with each bringing varied levels of experience to the initiative.

“I’m looking forward to some fun at Kyalami and returning the cars in showroom condition,” Denis Droppa, Motoring Editor of Independent Media promised. The man responsible for the motoring supplements in The Star, Pretoria News, Daily News, The Mercury and Cape Times, as well as the website, brings broad racing experience — including two seasons in the Engen VW Polo Cup and a guest drive in the VW Citi Celebrity Challenge – to the mix. “Thanks to Volkswagen for the opportunity,” Denis concluded, warning: “Don’t poke the Slovak!”

The Citizen’s Mark Jones is another experienced racer looking forward to dicing his motoring journalist peers at Kyalami. “It is so good to see this initiative come to fruition,” Road Test Editor and overall 2013 BMW Car Club Racing champion Jones, a regular amateur club and regional saloon car racer explained. “It has been sad to witness South Africa’s once proud motorsport heritage slide into obscurity, but now maybe more media will be encouraged to bring motorsport back to the people. “I might be old, but I am not cold yet — I am coming for you guys down the inside!” Mark warned.

There’s even a husband and wife team racing in the Challenge, with Lindsay and Mark Smyth among the competitors. Business Day Drive Times editor Mark, is an old race fan with a bit of historic racing and go-kart racing experience. He is also an old hand at putting a number of performance cars to the test on race tracks around the world. “It is great to see the Media Challenge finally approaching the start line – there is so much, mostly friendly rivalry between motoring hacks, and now we can see how that rivalry plays out on the track,” Mark promised. “This is a race to write a piece of history.”

Mr. Smyth had better wake up early on that Kyalami weekend if he wants to beat his wife, let alone his other rivals. Lindsay Vine Smyth – whose day job is to run the Ignition TV motoring channel on DStv – has some racing experience herself, and the opportunity for the mum of two to teach her hubby a racing lesson must be an exciting one. “I’m super chuffed to be invited to hit the track again in this great initiative – and in great company too!” said the Executive Producer who’s race experience includes pedalling an orange Mini called Juice, and a Golf, to great effect in historic and VW races respectively. Lindsay, who has also ridden shotgun with the likes of Rauno Altonen, The Stig, Serge Damseaux and Derek Bell explained: “Remember guys — ladies first!”

Lindsay is not the only lady racer in the field. Cape lass, Janine van der Post, who spends many of her waking hours keeping the website up to date, is another motoring media mum relishing the opportunity to race at the opening of the new Kyalami. “Wow – I am so honoured to have the privilege to race at this great Kyalami meeting,” this self-confessed petrol-head admitted. “I’m looking forward to making a difference for motorsport through this opportunity — they might be more experienced, and faster, but I have skills that put taxi drivers to shame. “Oh, and street cred — so my media peers had better look sharp – I’m not taking any nonsense from any of them – kat se hol is vis!”

Among the younger media racers in the field, Sean Nurse is another name Gauteng car fans are sure to know very well. Managing Editor of the Autodealer supplement that you find in your local newspaper every week (and online at, Sean has three years of experience racing in the grassroots Michelin Cup series and has competed in numerous endurance karting events. “Rubbing is racing,” Nurse concedes. “Let’s have some fun!”

Another young gun, editor, Andrew Leopold, has completed several advanced driving academies both locally and internationally and boasts regular track experience including around the renovated Kyalami circuit. “Don’t underestimate the speed and desire to win from the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists – this could be the most thrilling race at Kyalami’s Motorsports Festival,” Andrew warned. “The old guys are rusty – I’ll cruise this!”

Leopold’s threats won’t go unnoticed by the most senior man in the field, but judge this old book by its cover at your own peril – Bakkie & Car magazine editor and the man behind the portal, Michele Lupini may be advancing in years, but his race experience stretches back generations – and forward as far as his 16-year old son who will also race at Kyalami. “Thanks to VW, the Media Challenge is a dream come true,” Lupini – a regular race and rally winner and champion over the years admitted. “The best part of it is the chance to race and teach some of these media laaities a thing or two – I can’t wait!”

“We are confident that this group of drivers and journalists will not only lead motoring media across the board in sowing the seed that will recapture the public’s imagination in South African motor racing, but they will also put on a show to remember,” South African Guild of Motoring Journalists Chairman, Bernard Hellberg Jr, concluded. “We are delighted that Volkswagen, Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, Cell C and various other contributors have joined us in this great new initiative that’s set to benefit all of motorsport and we look forward to being part of a great day’s racing at this historic meeting.”

The Volkswagen Media Challenge powered by the SAGMJ, which is backed by Cell-C and is proudly hosted by Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and will see these eight top scribes competing in a field of Volkswagen Motorsport Polo 1.2 TSI DSG race cars at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit’s inaugural race meeting over the weekend of 22 and 23 October 2016. Race fans can keep abreast via the website, where tickets for the historic race weekend are on sale via the Computicket link on the homepage.

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