The Cape 9 Hour Endurance Race, the headline feature at the Cape Motorsport Festival presented by the City of Cape Town and G+A Motorsport on Friday and Saturday December 10 and 11, delivered drama all the way, starting less than two minutes into the event.
That was after the Iliso Labantu dancers demonstrated an unexpected talent with a beautiful rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and the Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, welcomed the participants who had come from all over South Africa and beyond to compete in this race, the championship decider of the SA National Endurance Series.
Six entries, however, had failed to make it on to the grid for the formal start. They lined up in pit lane and waited until the entire field had passed them on its opening lap before joining at the back of the pack. One of the late starters, however, wasn’t ready at all, and left a trail of oil all the way from the pit exit to halfway through turn 1.
One minute and 24 seconds later the leading cars dived into turn 1 at the start of their second lap and within the blink of an eye five of them were in the kitty litter, having slid off the circuit on the spilled oil or worse still, collided with each other as they skidded.
As soon as racing began again the expected duel between the two Stradale Motorsport Lamborghini Huracans began in earnest as they pulled away from the pack at about three seconds a lap, with ultimate lap-record holder Stuart White in the No 25 car he was sharing with Xollile Letlaka and racing legend Tschops Sipuka taking the early lead from the No 86 car of Charl Arangies and Arnold Neveling.
After an hour, with 41 laps completed, the two snarling V10s were still on the same lap, with Mikaeel Pitamber in the Bigfoot Express Ferrari 458 GT3 he was sharing with Bradley Scorer and Gavin Cronje third, two laps down, and Jaki Scheckter fourth, just 12 seconds further adrift in the Team Africa Le Mans Ginetta GT3, partnered by WesBank V8 legend Hennie Groenewald and Sarel van der Merwe, making a one-off comeback to celebrate his 76th birthday.
At this point the chequered flag came out for the one-hour “race within in a race”, with Gregory, Lord Thornton taking line honours in the Titan Historic Racing Chevron, five seconds ahead of Emile Botha’s Nissan 350Z, with Ray Farnham third, almost a lap down in his Birkin S3.
By one-third distance everybody had settled down to the long grind; the Huracan had reeled off 125 laps, with Neveling three laps clear of the Ferrari, five laps ahead of the WCT Porsche and nine laps ahead of Groenewald in the leading Ginetta.
An hour later Neveling had stretched his lead to six laps, posting the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 134 at 1 min 10.258sec. Cronje was three laps ahead of Lategan’s Porsche and Supervan was cruising the Ginetta in a comfortable fourth.
Late in the afternoon, however, the Gerald Buys/Andrew Horne Xena Chemicals Nash MVW3 suddenly began spewing huge clouds of blue-white smoke, causing consternation among race officials fearing a massive oil spill. However, once the Nash had limped back to the pits it was found that it wasn’t oil – it was rubber smoke!
The whole of Killarney held its breath as the clock ticked down, and series promoter Roger Pearce stood ready in the starter’s box with the chequered flag. The Stradale Huracan howled past to take a well-deserved win, the WCT Porsche parked in the spot reserved for third and finally, the Ferrari coasted into sight and stopped a little away from the others, its driver hastily climbing out and calling for the Bigfoot crew to stand by with fire extinguishers in case it burst into flames.
The Lamborghini had posted a record 394 laps, with the Ferrari losing ground in the final dramatic moments to finish 14 laps down – still seven ahead of the WCT Porsche.
Of 30 starters, 20 were still running at the finish, although only six of the original 14 Backdraft Roadsters survived.
Earlier, the 2021 SA National Volkswagen Polo Cup one-make series came down to a final showdown between the championship leader from Gauteng and the local hero, battling for the win on his home ground.
Championship leader Leyton Fourie came to Cape Town with a 17 point advantage over local hero Jurie ‘Umpie’ Swart – but with 42 points up for grabs from two races the outcome was by no means certain, especially as Swart had won the previous two races at Zwartkops, Fourie’s home circuit. Swart ended up winning both of the remaining races but with a bonus point for the fastest lap in the second race, Fourie was able to take the 2021 Volkswagen Polo Cup title.
The two-day spectacle also saw action from Classic and Fine Cars, Sports and GT races.
- Dave Abrahams is public relations officer for Killarney Raceway.