Part 5: Zwartkops Raceway & Mandla Mdakane

Zwartkops Raceway on the outskirts of Pretoria West is steeped in history and remains one of the most active racing circuits in South Africa. The original two-kilometre track dates back to 1961, and continued in original form up to 1995 - at which point it was redesigned and relocated on the property. The current Zwartkops layout debuted in 2001, and while it may appear simple at first glance, it holds a surprise or two for unsuspecting drivers.

The RSi nameplate is one very familiar to most 'petrolheaded' South Africans. First appearing on the 'chisel nose' Conquest of the 80's, it signified a performance Toyota to keep up with the best of them. The Conquest RSi debuted the acclaimed '1600' 4AGE engine, proudly sporting the Twincam-16 decal. Applauded for its rev-happy nature, high-output figures and reliability, it became an icon in its own right.

The second-generation 4AGE appeared in the rounded nose of the AE92 Conquest and Corolla models (now sporting 96kW), and built on the momentum of their predecessors, while carving up race tracks such as the original Zwartkops Raceway and claiming multiple Class C 'Group-N' victories.

The next major leap for the 4AGE came with the introduction of the 115kW 20-valve version in the Corolla RSi. Sourced from Japan, the 20-valve 4AGE engine found home in the unique-to-South Africa Corolla RSi and RXi models. Here the 8000 rpm redline and Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i) technology continued the legacy of the RSi 'pocket-rocket' - as this model too went on to rake in multiple Class-B production car class wins.

Toyota thus holds a long and rich history of competition-beating 1600 engines, and the GR Yaris is the next evolution of that legacy. While having lost a cylinder in the move to a three-cylinder configuration, the all-new G16E-GTS engine is a technological marvel and Is poised to take the Toyota 1600 to new heights.

As one of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Corolla GTC drivers, Mandla Mdakane is very familiar with high-output turbocharged engines and race-car dynamics.

Watch the video to see Mandla Mdakane's take on how the GR Yaris compares to its iconic predecessors and explores the evolution of the Toyota 1600. Video showcasing Zwartkops and the RSi models here.

Playlist found here