South African racer Saul Hack has made a name for himself racing Porsches, but he’s now racing a Motul-powered Polo SupaCup while trying to make an impact on the racing scene in his home country. We definitely needed to know more.
Saul, you’ve made an incredible career in just four years of racing. How did you get started?
Actually, I came into motorsport really late. I wanted to pursue it way earlier, but my parents just couldn’t afford for me to have a pro karting career and they strongly advised me to look at other sports. Which I did, and I became a swimmer. My passion for motorsport never faded, though, and so after I graduated, I took my first shot at an actual motorsport career in Formula Ford. To make a long story short, in the Formula Ford I had a big accident due to the team’s negligence in not taking proper care of the car. My parents wanted me to stop racing, but I still had that feeling that I had a lot of unfinished business. So, I started talking to Porsche South Africa and got involved with a Porsche Cup team called Lechner Racing. With Porsche I ended up doing two seasons in the Middle East and even made it to the Supercar Challenge, which I was supposed to compete in this year as well. But with the pandemic hitting that wasn’t on the cards anymore.
You’re racing a Polo GTC SupaCup now. Why did you change from a Porsche to a Polo?
Well, since the pandemic ruined my Porsche plans, I had to make other plans this year. Which is where the Polos come in. I met my teammate and Perfect Circle Racing team owner Andre Bezuidenhout during the Kyalami 9-hour race when we were both racing a Porsche. We got talking earlier this year just as the pandemic hit. He wanted to field some Polo SupaCups in the GTC championship and I actually wanted to take the opportunity to invest more time into racing locally and trying to uplift racing in South Africa.
What sort of car is a Polo SupaCup?
It’s actually a very cool car and a unique build for South Africa. Essentially, you take a fresh VW Polo chassis, bolt the Polo R5 rally car body kit onto it and put the engine of a Golf R in the front. The result is a very, very fast Polo race car that is a blast to drive.
What’s the motor racing landscape like in South Africa?
It’s very hard to be in motorsport in South Africa. One of the biggest challenges is the regulations. When you want to import a racing car in South Africa you actually pay a whopping 115% in import taxes. That makes racing here incredibly expensive. On top of that there is the South African approach to racing. Most racers here don’t really want to conform to anything and want to race any crazy car they build. Even when you get a Porsche Cup Car over here, the team will probably tune it and give it way more power, and it ends up being more expensive every time. So things like a GT4 or TCR challenge are virtually non-existent here.
How do you plan to make a change and impact the sport?
On one side we’re trying to lobby the government to stop this 115% import duty. A rule which was set because some guys imported race cars from Europe and the US and started driving them on the streets. On top of that, I want to use my experience from racing in Europe and the Middle East in order to try and impact organisations here. The biggest problem is that there are too many formats and different regulations in South Africa. Which makes it very expensive for young drivers to evolve through the ranks. © Picture credits: Sage Lee Voges