Fresh from a three-month break, the single-seater competitors in the Formula Ford national championship are keen to get racing again. The series pits these open-wheel drivers against each other in a challenge that sees them having to manage tyre wear, downforce and close racing while giving each other enough room to avoid disaster.

“Competing in a series like this is an incredible challenge,” says Ian Schofield, spokesman for the South African Single-Seaters. “You’re inches off the ground, the grip isn’t as good as it could be, you’ve got little to no downforce because these cars have no wings and it is just one of the most engaging and exciting experiences behind the wheel.”

The competitors will tackle Zwartkops Raceway as their first round for the season, with two races taking place on Saturday, March 19. This is the same venue the field contested their final 2015 round, where Robert Wolk claimed the national championship title.

Already confirmed to take the start line at round one are Werner Scholtz, Rick Morris, Dewald Brummer, Donny Lamola, Allen Meyer, Andreas Petrou, Andrew Horne, Bevan Williams, Julian van der Watt, Alex Gillespie, Dean Venter and Brendan Tracy. More are expected to enter in the few days left before the season starts.

Of the entry list, Van der Watt, Brummer and Scholtz were all amongst the top five last season with Van der Watt finishing just behind Wolk in the championship fight in his first full season. Gillespie was named the series Most Improved Driver for the season and Masters was the Rookie of the Year for the 2015 season.

The new season sees a change in the rules for the Formula Ford competitors. Unlike previous seasons, this year a competitor will be able to drop their two worst scores of the year. The championship will thus be scored over 14 of the 16 races that take place in the eight-round championship.

This change in the scoring means that experiencing a couple of bad races does not spell the end of a driver’s championship hopes for the season. It will also serve to keep the points gap between competitors smaller.

The Formula Ford racers start their season at Zwartkops in Pretoria on Saturday before heading to Killarney in Cape Town for round two in April and then on to Aldo Scribante Raceway in Port Elizabeth in early June before dashing to Kyalami in Johannesburg just two weeks later for their first event there since the circuit revamp. This will be followed by a visit to East London in July before heading back to Zwartkops Raceway in August.

Competitors then face Killarney again in September and Kyalami in October before finishing their season back at the starting point, at Zwartkops Raceway in November. This calendar will see the single-seater competitors deal with a number of different racing conditions, affected by temperature, grip levels and altitude – all of which need to be successfully managed to stay in front of the pack.

“Racing an open-wheel car is something that cannot be described,” says Schofield. “You need to experience it first-hand, and when you do, then you’ll be just as hooked on racing as everyone in the Formula Ford field.”