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Young South African driver ready to race

Young South African driver ready to raceGrade 11 learner Anthony Pretorius grew up around the racetrack, so it’s no surprise that at 17 years old, he’s already taken to the steering wheel. On the road to wrapping up his schooling career next year, Pretorius’ dreams of pursuing racing are within his reach, with his latest achievement as the youngest driver in the newly re-branded South African Touring Cars series.

From watching cars drive by at an old street circuit in his much earlier days, to karting, Pretorius took his love for racing from the sidelines to the driving seat.

At 17-years-old, he will be seen on the track at the country’s premier sprint circuit racing championship, South African Touring Cars (SATC), part of the National Extreme Festival, which kicks off this week in Cape Town. The series was previously known as the Global Touring Cars. Vehicles in the SATC race on Dunlop slick tyres.

“I am so excited at being the youngest person at the SATC this year, and really happy to be part of the series in its new identity as SATC from GTC. I am sure this will be a fun new chapter for the series, and I aim to do my best in the series this year,” said the Pretoria Boys High School learner.

With his father, Freddie, the owner of a motorsports company, Fast Development; Pretorius was exposed to cars and racing all his life.

“I have grown up around the racetrack as I got into a go-kart for the very first time when I was four years old. The early days in karting were very competitive and played a fundamental role in laying a foundation for my main circuit career. My earliest car memory is watching a race when I was four years old at an old street circuit in Durban, from the top of a transport truck. I still have a replica of an old production car which is the exact car that I went to watch in Durban,” he said.

In the SATC, Pretorius said he looked forward to racing against the top drivers in the country.

“The SATC championship consists of seven race weekends throughout South Africa. I will be racing against factory teams such as Toyota Gazoo Racing and other top drivers, which is a major step for me and showcasing what I am capable of. I feel very privileged to be the youngest SATC driver this year. I am aware that the drivers that I am racing against have years of experience, but I have no doubt in myself and my abilities that I will be able to beat all of my competitors,” he said, adding that some of his career highlights included winning his first Karting Championship in 2013, and in main circuit taking third position in the Polo Cup in 2023 in his rookie season, as well as being named Rookie Champion.

At SATC, he will be driving in a Toyota Corolla. His preparation work includes many hours of testing to make sure that the car is set up “right” so that he is able to drive the car to its limit, as well as watching old footage in preparation for a track that he has not raced on before.

Apart from the series and tracks, Pretorius pays equal attention to his vehicle’s tyres.

“Taking good care of your tyres is very important as once you have overheated them the tyres are then very unpredictable and will not have anywhere close to as much grip as to what it was like before. Race driver or not, always pay attention to your tyres,” he said.

While juggling the demands of the final years of his schooling career, Pretorius said he spends time preparing himself physically and mentally so that he is able to perform at his best, on and off the track.

“The thought of being able to be a professional in this field and pursue this as my career inspires me to put in all of my effort to make it possible,” he said.

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