Big news is that Brad Binder, our boy from Krugersdorp, has won several Moto2 GPs this year against some of the strongest competition in the world. Already a Moto3 champion, Brad has now signed up with the Austrian Motorcycle Manufacturer, KTM, to ride in the MotoGP class against the likes of Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi in 2020. Always sounds great to hear our Anthem sung when a South African has won an International motorcycle grand prix.
Even at the beginning of October World and National titles are starting to be won. Northern Irishman, Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki has taken his fifth World Superbike Championship amidst great competition from the Ducati’s who were romping away with the championship at the beginning of the year. He clinched this at the Magny-Cours circuit in central France.
Closer to home young Formula 1600 Formula Ford racing star in the Investchem 1600 Series, Scott Temple, has taken the championship against former champ and talented Julian van der Watt. They normally finish every race nose to tail.
Toyota Gazoo Team is hard to beat in South Africa. Guy Botteril and Simon Vacy-Lyle in their Etios beat big competition to take the South Africa Rally Championship for Drivers and Navigators for 2019. This makes it five in a row for Guy and Simon. The South African Cross-country Championship has been won by Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, a motorcyclist, ahead of Giniel de Villiers and Denis Murphy all driving those famous Toyota Gazoo Hiluxes.
Overseas our South African competitors continue to shape amongst some of the best competition in the world. Kelvin van der Linde took his Audi R8 to victory at Hochenheim Ring and won the ADAC Masters Championship.
Over in India local Volkswagen Motorsport drivers went to Madras. Jeffrey Kruger won the opening race from Tasmin Pepper. In the second race they took third and fourth places from a reverse grid and then Tasmin took the chequered flag and first place by .31 of a second ahead of Kruger in Race 3. Promptly the Indian champion, Dhruv Mohite, was invited to South Africa and he raced at Killarney against the same people and for his first time on foreign soil, did well. This is all thanks to Volkswagen Motorsport SA driver exchange programme.
Toyota and Volkswagen just keep delivering the goods in motorsport as they have done for the last 30 to 40 years against all the other manufacturers in South Africa. Guess who are number one and two on the sales charts in South Africa – Toyota and Volkswagen. Must be a message there somewhere.
Write down these names as champions for 2019. Lewis Hamilton to win the F1 Grand Prix Title hopefully for the sixth time in his Mercedes-Benz. Marc Marquez definitely to win the MotoGP championship on his Honda in the MotoGP classes.
Patrick Le Clerq seems to be getting the wrong end of the stick in the Ferrari team. Leading the Singapore Grand Prix which would have given him a hat-trick of wins he was told to move over for Vettel. Then in the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi the Ferrari pit messed up. Vettel who had been towed down to the first corner by Le Clerq, led but was held up too long for new tyres and Mercedes-Benz were able to get onto his tail finishing in first and second spot. Ferrari like all the others has banks of computers working out the tactics. In the old days it used to be worked out by the team managers on the back of a cigarette packet and it worked pretty well.
Toyota Land Cruiser sales have just surpassed 10 million units since the Land Cruiser first saw the light of day 68 years ago. They just go on forever.
There is a new kid on the rental block – RentMyRide have increased the capacity of their sales fleet and are offering a 40% discount if you book with them over the Christmas holidays. You can book a car in Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria or Durban.
Renowned senior journalist, Ken Macleod, died in London at 75 years old. Sad to relate he was living in sheltered accommodation. What a brilliant brain lost to motoring and motorsport.
The flagship of motor shows in the world, the Frankfurt Motor Show, faces an uncertain future. The show held in September drew environmental protests which disrupted the entire event. That plus poor support from the industry did not please German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was called upon to open the event and found the rabble clambering on to the main stage to unveil their anti-car banners.
Looks like it is back to bicycles for a lot of unhappy Germans. Hope they don’t use Vaseline or grease on their chains or wheel bearings because that would be hypocrisy…
Good news is that exports are still chomping along quite nicely. Not as good as the 44 000 in August but at 35 650 still a considerable figure. Exports are led by Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Ford and Toyota.
Although African countries aren’t taking too many of our cars that were available for export, companies are starting to sign agreements to build car plants in Ivory Coast (Toyota) with Volkswagen and Nissan having operations in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana – while Honda, Ford and Peugeot have plants backing their products in Nigeria as well. VW recently opened a plant in Rwanda and Peugeot has one in Kenya.
There is also a strong motor industry in North Africa with factories in Morocco, Egypt and Algeria.
Whilst our car sales struggle along, the fourth largest market in the world – India – which is on the brink of overtaking Japan for third place collapsed somewhat with a 30% fall in sales in August alone.
Jaguar-Land Rover, part of TATA were 60% down year-on-year in the UK, Honda was down 51% in India, Suzuki 36%, Mahindra 25%, Toyota 24% and Hyundai 9%. This has all meant that 350 000 workers in the automotive industry have lost their jobs and production cuts have been made.
The downturn is unique to India. First is the Government’s crackdown on bad debt and the phasing out of diesel engines altogether. New safety and emission legislations has resulted in cars becoming a lot more expensive.
Volkswagen in Uitenhage started to make the new Polo at the beginning of 2018. In just 18 months they have made 200 000.
Whilst truck sales in South Africa are not massive, they certainly do the job for the economy. At the recent Automechanika many of our truck manufacturers had major media launches of new vehicles in their range.
MAZ, a truck manufacturer from Belarus is coming to our market and was shown at Nasrec.
A new SUV called Mareza from Iran which is a crossover/hatchback will be assembled from SKD kits in Rosslyn. They will then move into Zimbabwe and then Botswana. The idea is to offer these new 1.5 litre petrol engine cars with 87 kW to secondhand car dealers who frequently state they are short of stock at a good price. This could also jack up the used car market.
The very first Land Rover ever launched in 1948 was found and restored and shown at the Amsterdam Motor Show recently. It was first manufactured in 1948 from aluminium body panels stripped off old Lancaster bombers.
Don’t forget to listen to Roger McCleery to hear more inside stories every Tuesday afternoon on his Motoring programme on Radio Today (1485 AM) or on DSTV Audio Channel 869, on social media and podcast around the world.
Story by Roger McCleery