Saturday’s Arnold Chatz Cars Mopar African Endurance Three Hour at Dezzi Raceway, Oslo Beach on the KZN South Coast proved a scintillating race of attrition survived best by Jaki Schekter and Greg Parton, whose Drizit Lamborghini Huracan won by the handsome margin of four laps in the end.
The winning margin is perhaps, a touch flattering considering their prime opposition spent a long time in the pits after cooking their brakes. Morning warmup and qualifying had pointed to a tense tussle between the Lamborghini and cousins Franco and Silvio Scribante in their Chevron B26 – and the opening laps confirmed this with a hectic battle between the two cars with the Chevron just sneaking ahead before its brakes went.
Although they repaired the problem and both drivers threw everything they knew at the fight, the deficit was just too great and they had to settle for ninth place overall. When the Scribantes went out, Jaki Scheckter set about build a commanding lead for the Lamborghini with his major opposition now coming from the Honda-engined Ligier JS49 of Fritz Kleynhans/James Forbes, this car circulating faultlessly throughout the race to end up second overall and the first sports prototype home.
Zimbabwean Darren Winterboer and Kris Budnik in the Barons BMW F30 335i were happy with the benefits provided by problems ahead of them and settled into a comfortable third place they would keep to the end of the race, finishing seven laps behind the leader to see Winterboer open up his overall Mopar SA Endurance Championship lead with another maximum points haul. They were also the leading tin-top finisher, followed home by the Arnold Chatz Racing Alfa Giulietta of Jozi duo Bradley Scorer and Theo van Vuuren, which also had a trouble-free run to fourth overall.
With more troubles than practically everyone else combined, the phoenix-like fifth place achieved by the Bataleur Motorsport Nash MVW3 of local KZN crew Mike Schmidt/Bruce Avern-Taplin was nothing short of remarkable. In practice on Friday, a severed fuel pipe caused a dramatic fire and the crew had to work late into the night to rebuild the race car.
Then in practice and qualifying on the Saturday morning, it spent time back in the pits undergoing further repairs. However, it ran perfectly throughout the race and weaved its way through the field from the back of the grid to finish a fine fifth. This is all the more significant because the pit crew were all young engineering students from nearby colleges — some of whom had never been to a race track before.
In conjunction with sponsors Gedore and the Merseta, Mike Schmidt runs a programme where an initial batch of around 20 students is whittled down to a five-person race pit crew at each circuit. Former race, Alan Kernick runs a technical briefing on the Thursday prior to the race along with a ‘classroom’ session on what the sport is all about. “The programme is really working well,” says Schmidt, “and it is bringing new youngsters to the sport — some already having found places in teams racing in their area.”
Sixth place overall on the day went to Stuart Konig and Johnathan Konig in their Volkswagen Golf 2 GTi, three laps clear of Andy Gossman and Mike Barbaglia’s Volkswagen Scirocco, with Eric Salomon and Dave Sinclair (ELF S 06) a further lap adrift in eighth, ahead of the Scribantes, who deposed the Mike Altona/Steve Pickering Porsche 910 to tenth on the final tour. Mike Verrier and Wayne Jardine (Shelby-Nissan) and Dewald Brummer/Bevan Williams (Volkswagen Golf 1 GTi) both limped home to score vital points in their respective competitive championship chases.
On the Index of Performance, which rewards the lap time consistency of competitors, the Budnik/Winterboer BMW triumphed over the Konig Golf and the Alfa of Scorer/Van Vuuren. The Schmidt/Avern-Taplin Nash was fourth ahead of Andy Gossman and Mike Barbaglia in a Volkswagen Scirocco.
Looking back at the race, the opening sprint that witnessed the titanic Lamborghini-Chevron duel up front was brought to a 60 km/h caution halt when the Backdraft Cobra of Mike McLoughlin/Duncan Day lost a wheel. This lasted for a couple of laps until racing got back to full speed and the initial battle for the lead enthralled spectators.
The local Backdraft Racing effort turned into a bit of a nightmare with both Cobra cars — the red McLoughlin car returned to the fray after the initial wheel loss but it was then sidelined with a loose electrical connection, while the blue car was eventually taken out contention with a gear linkage problem.
The Mopar South African Endurance Series heads down the coast to Port Elizabeth's Aldo Scribante racetrack next for its fifth round of seven on Saturday 14 October.
Mopar South African Endurance Championship
Arnold Chatz Cars Dezzi 3-Hour Results
1. Jaki Scheckter/Greg Parton (Lamborghini Huracan) 132 laps
2. Fritz Kleynhans/James Forbes (Ligier JS49-Honda) 128 laps
3. Darren Winterboer/Kris Budnik (BMW 335i) 125 laps
4. Bradley Scorer/Theo Van Vuuren (Alfa Romeo Giulietta) 121 laps
5. Mike Schmidt/Bruce Avern-Taplin (Nash-Volkswagen MVW3) 119 laps
6. Jonathan & Stuart Konig (Volkswagen Golf 2 GTi) 118 laps
7. Andy Gossman/Mike Barbaglia (Volkswagen Scirocco) 115 laps
8. Eric Salomon/Dave Sinclair (ELF S 06) 114 laps
9. Franco & Silvio Scribante (Chevron B26-Suzuki) 108 laps
10. Mike Altona/Steve Pickering (Porsche 910) 108 laps
11. Mike Verrier/Wayne Jardine (Shelby-Nissan) 106 laps
12. Dewald Brummer/Bevan Williams (Volkswagen Golf 1 GTi) 103 laps
Index of Performance
1. Winterboer/Budnik (BMW) 94.661%
2. Konig/Konig (VW) 94.653%
3. Scorer/van Vuuren (Alfa Romeo) 93.831%