He may be well into his ’seventies, but SA racing legend Willie Hepburn remains a one-man army who not only emerged the star of a dramatic Super Value Foods race weekend at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante by dominating the V8 Special Coastal Challenge races, but he also towed his car to PE from Gauteng, spannered it and repaired it to squeeze into the next race even though many thought his weekend was over. It was also a great weekend for local lad Brynn High who took the Modified win, while Kean Barnard dominated the Sports and GT races and Ricardo Otto did the same in the motorcycle races.
Hepburn took no heed of the slick track as he gave notice of his AMSC Coastal Challenge & Historic & Classic Saloons class intentions, putting his Sabat Opel Rekord V8 on a commanding pole position ahead of a healthy 24-car grid, before clearing off to a solid first race win as he left the East London Capri Peranas of Damian Staffen and Darron Gudmanz (Super Value Foods) to fight it out. Local hero Shaun Rudolph was next up in his 2-litre MR Racing Ford Escort ahead of Cape visitor Mark Uytenbogaardt (Ford Fairlane V8) and Rane Berry (Goodwrench Datsun Skyline).
Another local, Deon Gouws (Supreme Auto Kadett GTE) was next up ahead of Mike Rudolph (MR Ford Capri), East London visitor Matthew Gudmanz (Supa Value Datsun SSS) and Neil Van Eyk (Lokhose Escort) with leading local Coastal Challenge Class C duo Gordon Bennett (Tiger J-Bay Skyline) and Dinesh Coopoo (BMW 2002 ti) and East London lad Alec Gudmanz (Capri) next home.
Class U winner Andrew Greenland (Alfasud) followed ahead of Donavan Collins (Toyota), Graham Lessing (Fairlane), Angelique Griffin, (Remtec Alfa Romeo), Mark Schulpfort (Goodwrench Alfa Romeo), Shane Fantham (Escort), Greg Ermes (MR Escort), Quentin Bates (Mini), Harold Webster (Alfa Romeo) and Robert Halgreen (Ron to Go Escort), while Wayne Botha (Escort) did not finish.
There was drama as Willie Hepburn rushed to repair his Rekord for race 2 after an off in the Modified race just prior, but there was nothing a lot of duct tape, a few zip ties and a little blood, sweat and tears could not fix and Hepburn had it sorted just in time to start at the back. The 77-year old was third by the end of the first lap and took two more laps to haul in the leading Peranas of Darron Gudmanz and Staffen before clearing off to a most popular win.
Rudolph was next up ahead of Botha, Berry, Alec Gudmanz, Gouws, Rudolph, Bennett, Lessing, Schulpfort and Collins, while Griffin put one over Coopoo, Fantham, Greenland, Bates, Webster, Halgreen and the delayed Uytenbogaardt, after Matthew Gudmanz, van Eyk and Ermes were rendered hors de combat. It was plain sailing as Hepburn did the triple in the final ahead of the same top five, but Alec Gudmanz swapped places with Berry in sixth ahead of Bennett, Lessing and Collins in tenth followed by Fantham, Coopoo, Gouws, Greenland Griffin and Schulpfort. Greg Ermes was next up ahead of Bates, Webster and Halgreen as Uytenbogaardt struggled home again, while Rudolph and once again van Eyk hit trouble.
The EP Modifieds also qualified on a damp track as several drivers opted not to go out and started at the back of their classes as Hepburn once again leaned on his legendary experience to slither his monster Sabat Opel Rekord V8 onto pole position ahead of top local Bryn High’s AWD S&K Diesel/Fuchs/Brights Racing Audi S4, Class B man Deon Slabbert making his usual impression in the wet aboard his Emerald Fire Turbo Polo and Duncan Lethbridge (St Francis Marine Audi TT).
It had dried by the time Race 1 started as Lethbridge did not make the start, leaving Hepburn leading High early on, but Hepburn slowed and stopped after going off on lap 3 leaving Bryn High momentarily leading Deon Slabbert and Robin Spence, running in Class A in his Subaru Forester, but Slabbert soon slowed too, but pushed on to finish eighth as High took the win from Spence, Class B and C winners, Thys Geyser (GDC Golf) and Marais Ellis (Auto Magic BMW) and a subdued Aldo Scribante (Audi S4).
Steve High (S&K/Fuchs/Brights Cruze) was second in B from Slabbert, Ellis beat Johan Nel to the C win as (Injection Tech A1 BMW) took Class D from Daniel Bright, Eddie Banks (BMW) took Class X in wild rally style, Derik Gouws (BMW) beat Wickus Basson to Class E and Theo Scholtz (BRD Polo) took Class F from Zante Otto (VW Motorsport/Fuchs/Brights Vivo).
Race 2 delivered a real dice early on as Hepburn held off High and Scribante as Aldo passed Bryn for second mid distance, but the Scribante car then stopped as High found a way past the thundering Rekord with Spence a lonely third. Slabbert found trouble early on and slipped back as Geyser disposed of Steve High to take Class B with Slabbert third, Nel turned the tables on Ellis in C and D, E and F went the same way as race 1, while Royce Griffin (RPG St. Francis Astra) took Class X.
Hepburn brought his A game to race 3 to rumble to a lights to flag win from High and Spence, while Slabbert found form too to take the Class B final from Steve High after he and B winner Ellis entertained, but Ellis later slowed to allow Oosthuizen to take the class with Nel third as Aukamp beat Bright in D, while Basson turned the tables on Gouws and Otto did the same to Scholtz in F and Griffin took Class X. Overall High took the win from Spence and Hepburn, Geyser took Class B from Steve High, Ellis beat Nel to C, Aucamp took D ahead of Bright, Basson E from Gouws, Scholtz F from Otto and Griffin won Class X.
On two wheels, Ricardo Otto (Yamaha) sped to three race wins over Jaco Scholtz (JC Suzuki) as Johan Anker (Yamaha) took third in the opening race ahead of William Kew, Wade Wright (Yamaha), Suzuki duo Glen Elliott and Malcolm Burrows, Jessica Howden (Kawasaki), Richard Hawkins (Suzuki) and Oliver McKay after Jordan Breakspear (KTM) stopped. Wright beat Anker to third in the second and third races with Elliott fifth in race 2 ahead of Kew, McKa, Breakspear, Howden, Burrows and Hawkins before a race 3 reshuffle saw Kew fifth ahead of Howden, Elliott, Burrows, Breakspear, Hawkins and McKay.
Lotus trio Kean Barnard, Gordon Nolan and Jefferey Hall filled the first Sports & GT podium ahead of Gordon Nicholson (Nissan GT-R) and Syd Lippstreu (Toyota Celica), after two more Lotus 7s, Daniel Bright and Jeandre Marais hit trouble. Barnard did the double over Nolan, Hall, Nicholson and Lippstreu and then the triple ahead of Nicholson, Marais, Nolan, Hall and Lippstreu.
Shaun Benn (BMW) took the opening Street and Fine Car handicap race over Kelsey Davidson (Audi S4), Robin Venter, (Conquest), Stuart Cornforth (Mini), Francois Wium (BMW), Corne Botes (Ballade), Louis Ellisand Tom Hugo (Skyline). Wium bounced back to take the second race from Botes, Davidson, Benn, Ellis, Venter, Hugo and Cornforth before Wium took the final too ahead of Hugo, Davidson, Benn, Botes, Cornforth, Venter and Ellis.
There’s a 2-month break until the next round of the Eastern Province regionals on 12 October, but locals can look forward to a round of the upcountry Extreme Festival a few weeks before that on 20 September.