The Volkswagen Driver Search moves into its semi-final phase Monday to Wednesday 24-26 October when the top eight qualifiers chosen from the original 16 drivers at the recent Academy Week, return to Gerotek for further training and evaluation on Monday and Tuesday. The top four drivers will then be selected to go into a racetrack shootout at the Red Star Raceway on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s activities will narrow the field down to two finalists, both of whom will race competitively in a regional race meeting later in the year, from where the driver who acquits himself best, will become a Volkswagen Motorsport Race Driver competing in the 2017 Engen Volkswagen Cup.
“We are now getting down to the nuts and bolts of the Volkswagen Driver Search,” Volkswagen South Africa Motorsport Manager Mike Rowe confirmed. “We would like to wish each of the Top Eight drivers good luck – make the best of this opportunity, whether you get through or not. “What you learn this week will prove invaluable going forward and it will serve you very well in the future.”
The Volkswagen Driver Search Top Eight are, in alphabetical order; Ayrton Good, Ebrahim Jood and Jerone Kelly; Jonathan Mogotsi, Rishay Moodley and Ryan Rhode; Shivesh Bissoon and Siyabonga Mankonkwana.
Ayrton Good is from East London and has several years karting experience from entry-level all the way to international participation including the ROK finals in Italy in 2012. He has also successfully raced a VW Golf in regional saloon car events.
Kwa-Zulu-Natal driver Ebrahim Jood started out in corporate karting challenges before moving to circuit karting, where he has competed at regional to international levels. Ebrahim also has limited single seater racing experience .
Jerone Kelly is from the Eastern Cape and also started out in karting, racing 4 stroke karts before moving on to drag racing, spinning and drifting. He currently races saloon cars in regional events.
Gauteng based Siyabonga Mankonkwana has just completed his final year school examinations in Namibia, where he raced single seaters in Windhoek.
Jonathan Mogotsi from Gauteng started out in the virtual racing world, which eventually led him to experience real racing through the Nissan GT Academy, where he finished second overall at Silverstone in the United Kingdom. Jonathan has also raced karts.
Western Cape lad Rishay Moodley also has a degree of karting experience alongside participation in a variety of motorsport disciplines including gymkhana and rallying.
Ryan Rhode hails from Johannesburg and has experience in karting as well as having competed in saloon cars both in South Africa and abroad.
Shivesh Bissoon is from KZN and his experience to date has been limited to karts.
“We have now entered the sharp end of the competition.” Motorsport South Africa Sporting Services Manager Wayne Riddell pointed out. “All eight Volkswagen Driver Search Semi Finalists have shown the judges that they have the basics required to be a race driver and will continue to benefit and learn through this next phase; all of which will greatly benefit their future race racing careers. “We are now starting to look for that one person who has that special something to race to the top and take the honours. “MSA trusts all eight will bring their A game to the semis and we look forward to a most constructive and challenging week. “Good luck to all of the final eight.”
“Most of the Volkswagen Driver Search participants have limited funds to their disposal, which means they have not been able to complete or race as much as they perhaps would have liked,” Volkswagen Driver Search convener Steve Harding explained. “This process not only provides every driver with a chance to learn and compete through the process, but it will also see at least one Search racer competing at national level next year”.
The Volkswagen Driver Search seeks to find, nurture and develop South Africa’s future motor racing talent. Run in conjunction with Motorsport South Africa, the various modules will not only serve to train all candidates on the many driving, theoretical and practical aspects they will deal with in their future race careers, but the process will also select the top driver and reward him with that prized Engen VW Polo Cup drive.