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Juno wins dramatic African 6-Hour

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IOL mot feb24 Juno

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The race was eventually won by the Juno (front) driven by Nick Adcock, Francis Carruthers and Dean McCarroll. Image: Steve Wicks

Welkom - The second African 6-Hour race at Phakisa on Saturday was a case of sweet revenge for the Harp Motorsport Team, which made up for finishing second in the inaugural event last year.

Qualifying was a tense affair as Nick Adcock put in a blistering lap to put the Harp Motorsport/Malta Juno SS3 on pole ahead of the Pilot Pens Shelby of Alan Eve, Ben Morgenrood and George Ferreira with the Liqui Moly/Hollard version of Rui Campos and sons Jason an Keegan heading row two.

Originally Toby Venter was down to drive a GT3 Cup car with Peter Wharton-Hood, but after Friday's practice they realised it didn't have the pace to win so the quicker Porsche 993 GT2 was sent down which he qualified fifth.

VENTER'S STRONG START

A forceful opening lap saw Venter leading by the end of the opening tour and by the time the first round of pitstops approached he had opened up a sizeable gap, but then the drama began.

After qualifying seventh, the much fancied Vaal Fluid Systems/Motul V10 Dodge Viper driven by Charl Arangies retired when it spectacularly burst into flames whilst being refuelled during its first pitstop. Fortunately nobody was injured, but it did require a lot of fire extinguishers as red hot brakes kept re-igniting the fuel leaking from damaged fuel lines.

The leading Porsche also ran into problems. Just when Venter was building his lead and looking very strong, so the motor lost a fan belt and he pitted with overheating problems. With a new belt fitted the car was soon on its way but the motor had been damaged and retired for good after 42 laps.

JUNO TAKES THE LEAD

That left the V6 Nissan powered Juno in the lead while a good scrap developed for the other podium places. The Campos car was the next hopeful to falter as a fuel pump failure saw it retire having completed 46-laps. The Q-Nomy Shelby of Thomas Reib and Sean Greve enjoyed a brief spell in the lead as pit-stop strategy became apparent. However, the Juno remained in control and co-drivers New Zealand Sports Car champion Dean McCarroll and Francis Carruthers were fast and reliable as the team eked out a four lap advantage by the time the flag fell.

Reib and Greve put in a solid performance to scoop second place five laps clear of the Strike Racing Shelby in the hands of Andrew Strike, Des and Jade Gutzeit. 2013 Welkom 2-hour winners Ian Smith and Stuart Mack and former single seater racer Elna Croeser were next after a steady but reliable run that saw them well clear of the NAC Helicopters/Master Power Technologies example of Alister Brown, Menno Parsons and Craig Shorter which was only a lap ahead of the Bigfoot Express Porsche 996 of Sun Moodley and Andrew Culbert.

A further lap adrift was the Team Signkor Birkin 7 driven by Jeff Gable, Derek van der Merwe and Andrew Becker.

Another fancied runner to suffer was the Radical V8 which had gearbox problems throughout the weekend and limped to the finish with only 1st, 5th and 6th gears operational. Another car in the wars was the Lotus 7 device of Clive Wilmot, Etienne Strydom and Rob Gearing which had its cylinder head replaced and managed 86 laps in total but was running at the finish albeit with too few laps to be credited as a finisher.

The Centlube Racing Chevron B19 of Colin Ellison, Pierre de Waal and Greg Thornton also had a multitude of mechanical woes and was classified 24th.

The sought after Index of Performance award went to the Goldwagen Roodepoort Golf of Jannie van Rooyen, Adriaan Dalton and Gerhard Henning from the team Signkor Birkin and the giant killing 1600cc Ferodo Racing Golf of 17-year old Kelvin van der Linde and 14-year old brother Sheldon who were 11th overall, six laps behind the bigger engined Goldwagen entry.

RESULTS

1.. Nick Adcock/Francis Carruthers/Dean McCarroll (Juno) - 196 laps

2. Thomas Reib/Sean Greve (Shelby) - 192

3. Andrew Strike/Des Gutzeit/Jade Gutzeit (Shelby) - 187

4. Ian Smith/Stuart Mack/Elna Croeser (Shelby) - 183

5. Alister Brown/Menno Parsons/Craig Shorter (Shelby) - 181

6. Sun Moodley/Andrew/Culbert (Porsche 997 GT3) - 180


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