08 Dec NINE HOURS OF DRAMA AT KILLARNEY ENDURANCE CLASSIC
Cape Town – The South African 9 Hour Endurance Race presented by Wingfield Motors and Kfm 94.5 at Killarney International Raceway on Saturday 5 December had it all. There were crashes galore, engine blow-ups, broken gearboxes, wheels coming off and even an onboard fire, during the course of a long day’s journey into night.
It seemed at times that the cars were spending more time cruising round behind the the safety car than at racing speeds, but the action between safety-car periods was epic – a bruising, grinding, door-handle-bashing saga, testing the stamina and concentration powers of the drivers and pit crews to the limit.
Starting from pole with a qualifying lap of 1min09.488sec was the Scribante Racing Chevron B26 of Franco, Silvio and Dino Scribante. Built in 1973, the B26 was Chevron’s first sports-racing car with a monocoque ‘tub’ rather than a tubular space-frame.
Originally fitted with a two-litre, four cylinder Ford engine, the Scribante B26 now has two Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engines mounted on a common crankcase to produce a screaming 2900cc V8 with more power than Chevron designer Derek Bennett would have dreamed possible.
Alongside it on the grid was the Harp Motorsport Pilbeam MP84 of Francis Carruthers and Steve Humble. They were followed by a huge field of 45 starters that ranged from the Stradale Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 of Andrew Rackstraw, Adrian Dalton, and Charl Arangies to the Wheel Collision Golf Mk1 piloted by local heroes Byron Mitchell, Cyril Somerville and Elroy Vice, and included no less than 16 Lexus-engined Backdraft Cobras.
For the record, the little Golf trundled round for nine hours without breaking anything, averaging around 1min30sec a lap, completed 286 laps and was eventually classified 14th out of 21 finishers!
The Chevron, however, set the pace from the start, with the Pilbeam, the Lamborghini and the AidCall247/Rico Barlow Racing Ligier JS53 EVO of Nick Adcock, Michael Jensen and Dean Venter in hot pursuit.
But the drama started less than three laps in when the Team Africa Le Mans Ginetta G55 GT3 of team principal Dr Greg Mills and Jaki Scheckter suffered a terminal mechanical infarction coming out of Kfm Corner and expired in the Bus Stop, bringing out the safety car for the first of many excursions.
Then the Ligier sprang a coolant leak, forcing a pit stop of more than half an hour and dropping it down to 41st.
At the end of the first hour the Stradale Gallardo was (theoretically) in the lead, having completed 41 laps, but was in the pits, while the Scribante Chevron and the Team Africa Le Mans ‘international’ Ginetta G55 GT3, crewed by Scottish racer Anthony Reid, Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen and Hennie Groenewald from Johannesburg were on their 41st lap, 71 seconds apart.
The Pilbeam had been entered for the first hour only and which thus won that ‘race within a race’ from the Porsche GT3’s of Gary Kieswetter (APT Racing) and Jay Naidoo (Team Toys R Us), all of whom finished on the same lap, having completed 39 tours of the 3.267 kilometre Killarney circuit. However, the Team Toys R Us Porsche was later excluded for not having made the mandatory pit stop, moving Sun Moodley’s Bigfoot Express Freight Porsche 991 up to third.
The rest of the field, with 35 cars out of 37 starters still running, settled down for the long haul and, a few laps later the Chevron went into the lead.
After two hours, it had completed 76 laps, and was three laps ahead of the Lamborghini, with the M Sport Polo SuperCup of Mikaeel Pitamber, Bradley Scorer and Kashen Naicker third, – a superb showing for a two-litre tintop in this company. Fourth, just 28 seconds further adrift, was the Team Africa Le Mans lead car.
At the three-hour mark, the Chevron had reeled off 111 laps, while the Lamborghini was in the pits again, with 109 tours on its tally and Team Africa Le Mans had retaken third with 106.
Halfway through the fourth hour the Stradale Gallardo was back in the pits with a broken half-shaft, so at the end of that hour Team Africa were up to second, six laps behind the Chevron, with the Bucket List Racing Mini Cooper R56 of Kris Budnick, Christopher Pretorius and Darren Winterboer third, seven laps further adrift.
A few minutes into the fifth hour Dean Venter smelled wood smoke in cockpit of the AidCall 247 Ligier. When he pitted, the team found that the overheated exhaust system was burning the wooden floor of the car. After a 10 minute MacGyver involving a tin plate pop-riveted to the floor under the pipework, the Ligier was back on track and soon back up to eighth, while the Chevron and the leading Ginetta held the lead, and the Lamborghini was slicing through the field after rejoining in 18th.
After two-thirds of race duration the Scribante crew had completed 227 laps, seven more than Team Africa Le Mans, with the M Sport Polo SuperCup third on 212, the Mini fourth on 227 and the Ligier up to fifth on 210.
With seven hours of intense racing behind it, the Chevron was still holding a six-lap lead over the Ginetta, with M Sport 13 laps further in arrears, three laps ahead of the Mini and five laps ahead of the Ligier.
Eight minutes before the end of the eighth hour, Charl Arangies accelerated away from the pits in the Lamborghini after a scheduled refuelling stop, only to have the car burst into flames seconds later in Kfm Corner. Arangies stopped at the exit of the corner and was out of the car, unhurt, in seconds, just as the marshals arrived on the scene with fire extinguishers in hand. Nevertheless, the Gallardo’s race was run.
Meanwhile, the Chevron continued to reel off the laps, while the Ligier crew pushed hard to pass the M Sport Polo and claim a podium finish. Venter finally made the pass with just 15 minutes to go before the flag fell at 9:08pm.
And so it was that the oldest car in the race took line honours (and Class S) after leading 317 of 347 laps. Seven laps back was the leading Team Africa Car, second overall and the winner of the GT3 SA Class. Third overall and second in Class S was the AidCall 247 Ligier on 323 laps, just 53 seconds ahead of the M Sport Polo, which took Class B from the Bucket List Mini, fifth overall on 318 laps.
The leading Backdraft Roadster, in sixth place overall, was the AidCall 247/Rico Barlow Racing machine of Sandro Biccari, Stefan Snyders and Mike Verrier, ahead of the Maximo Racing Roadsters of Steve Clarke/Reghard Roets/Steve Clarke and Brandon Dean/Willie Erasmus/Barry Ingle.
Earlier in the day, Danie van Niekerk and the Wingfield Motors BMW E36 pipped Brennon Green’s Weskaap Bakwerke Golf 5 GTi for pole position by just 0.026sec in qualifying for the Mikes Place Clubmans Saloons, with Sulaiman Effendi (Jimmy Motorsport BMW E30) only half a second slower.
Race 1 lasted less than two laps, however, before a huge crash brought out the red flags. Due to time constraints the race was abandoned. Race two was shortened to seven laps, led all the way by Van Niekerk and Effendi, albeit 14 seconds apart.
Steve McCarthy, out for the first time in his Nissan 350Z, got the best of a four-way battle for third with Class C leaders Shane Smith (Truckport Logistics BMW E46) and Daanyaal Coetzee (A&M Plumbing BMW E46 M3), While Stacy Wilson (DTM Helderberg Maxima) took Class D honours in ninth overall, Faris Manan (Rismo Solutions BMW M3) finished 13th overall and first in Class F and Ciara van Niekerk won Class E in the Wingfield Motors Golf 1 2L, finishing 16th overall.
David McFadden won both Superbike races at the final 2020 Power Series event presented by Wingfield Motors and Kfm 94.5 at Killarney on Saturday 5 December but the StuntSA/Rpm Centre R1 rider was made to work hard each time.
Ronald Slamet, in his best ride yet on the JP Marketing & True Vine ZX-10R, led Race 1 for the first three laps, before McFlash passed him on lap four and gradually pulled away to win by almost five seconds.
Brandon Haupt (Fueled Racing R1) passed Slamet for second on lap five and then overcooked it into Kfm Corner at the start of lap six, dropping him back to fifth. Back on track, he passed Super600 star Jared Schultz (ASAP World R6) on the same lap and just caught SuperMasters leader Malcom Rapson (Racebase GSX-R1000) on the final tour to take a distant third.
Rookie Michael Hunter, out for the first time in the premier division of Western Cape Superbike racing, posted a career best of 1min15.985sec, but just lost out to Jean-Baptiste Racoupeau (RPM Centre ZX-10R) in a dash to the line for 10th overall.
Haupt made no such mistakes in Race 2, leading off the start until McFadden outbraked him into Fastron Corner at the end of the third lap. He then chased McFlash all the way to the line, finishing just 2.039sec in arrears after a superb battle for the lead.
Slamet was late to the grid and started from pit lane, but worked his way up to fourth by lap six, where he got involved in the dice of the day with veteran Rapson, which ended in Slamet’s favour by just 0.076sec. Four seconds further back Jacques Ackerman put in a career best lap of 1min13.842 on the Kawasaki South/Barker/Stepp ZX-10R to finish fifth overall and second in the Masters division, exactly a second ahead of Super600 leader Schultz.
While the Class S cars of Byron Mitchell (Dolphin Engineering Formula VW), Dee-Jay Booysen (Bidvest McCarthy Formula Reynard) and James Beaumont (Formula Reynard) fought it out at the front of the first Formula Libre race, Richard Carr (Formula Vee Sauber) led the usual Formula Vee bunfight.
This saw Graham Knight (the odd man out in the Eloff Transformers Formula Ford Ray, the only Class B entry), Cyril Somerville (Dolphin Engineering Sting 1.4L), Zane Amundsen (Lantis), Ricky Anderson (Parow Auto Body Forza 1.4L), Donovan Ramsay (Dolphin Engineering Rhema) and singer Kelly Fletcher in an entertaining race-long scuffle for sixth overall and second in Class C.
Beaumont didn’t come out for Race 2, leaving Mitchell and Booysen to debate the lead, while Formula Vee contender Peter Hills (Liqui Moly Stealth) Carr, Formula M driver Albertus Engelbrecht (the only Class A entry) and Knight put up a superb dice for third overall, finishing in that order within 3.5 seconds.
A lap down, the fight for eighth overall was even closer, as Amundsen, Anderson, Fletcher, Ryno Pentz (Dico 4×4 Accessories Omega) and Ramsay came home in that order in just 13 seconds.
The first outing of the combined V8 Masters/Makita Formula Supercars was red-flagged after a serious incident on the opening lap. The restart, a seven-lap sprint, was led all the way by Sean Moore, while Rui Campos, Fabio Tafani and Mark Ridgeway battled it out for second, finishing in that order covered by 2.5 seconds.
Alister Brown was the first Silver Class V8 driver home in fifth overall, while Ryan McCarthy, Hilton Pieters and Cedric Le Bon had a real ding-dong for Makita Formula Supercar honours, finishing in that order within seven seconds.
Race 2 delivered a spectacular dice for the lead, as Tafani, Ridgeway, Moore and Campos mixed it up on almost every corner, finally crossing the line in that order within 1.666sec. Brown was fifth overall again, at the top of the Silver Class.
McCarthy broke away from the Makita Formula Supercar battle to post a clear win, while Pieters, Le Bon and Andrew Moffitt debated second, all covered by just 1.548sec at the finish.