Born-and-bred Capetonian, Ashley Haigh-Smith, cannot wait to race in front of his home crowd when he makes his World RX debut in an Olsbergs MSE Supercar at the Gumtree World RX of South Africa on 11 and 12 November.
The Cape Town RX – takes place at the Killarney International Raceway – is the 12th and final round of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy.
“To race on home soil is going to be fantastic,” Haigh-Smith commented. “You couldn’t ask for a better debut opportunity, really. Having home crowd around cheering, with a lot of familiar faces is going to be great and it’s amazing to have world class racing back in my backyard – literally 10 kilometres away from my farm,” he said.
According to Haigh-Smith, bringing World RX to South Africa is exactly what is needed to boost motorsport locally and get local fans excited again. “It’s a fantastic showcase for SA and RX will help boost the motorsport industry, local communities and the broader economy,” he said.
“Killarney is an iconic venue in South African motorsport that’s been around for over half a century and I’m super stoked to be part of the next chapter of this track,” said Haigh-Smith, adding that he is very happy for the way it can help uplift the local Denoon community. “Killarney has employed some members of the local community which are involved in various infrastructure upliftment programmes around the track,” he said.
Haigh-Smith is one of only two South Africans in the event, the other being Mark Cronje.
At just 25-years-old, Haigh-Smith has amassed plenty of experience behind the wheel having competed in the Junior World Rally Championship – the only South African driver to have done so – and he also holds the record as the youngest ever South African S1600 Champion. This year, he is competing in the French Peugeot 208 Rally Cup.
“I have always been interested in Rallycross, but when I was invited to the launch of the World Rallycross of South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year, it was like a switch was tripped and I could think of nothing else,” explained Haigh-Smith.
He is under no illusions as to the challenge ahead though. “We have to be realistic about our objectives coming into the final event of the World RX season – the competition is incredibly strong. I will give my all and be relying on the deep experience and tactical support my race team OMSE will offer me.”
“It is a completely new track and everyone needs to learn it. The great thing about the team, Is that OlsbergsMSE also compete in the Global Rally Cross series in the USA. The advantage they have over many of the other teams is in GRC is that there is a new track every event, So they accustomed to going 100% from the get go.” he said.
“I want to thank OMSE, IMG and Killarney International Raceway who have been incredibly helpful in getting us prepared for the event. I also want to thank all who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible, I’m really privileged to have such a strong and supportive team behind me. I’m looking forward to putting on a proper show for the home crowd,” concluded Haigh-Smith.
For more information on Gumtree World RX of South Africa, please visit www.capetownrx.com