Phakisa revs up for 6 Hours of mayhemComment on this story
This Saturday sees the second running of the African 6-Hour endurance race at Welkom's Phakisa Freeway and, with at least 10 cars in contention for line honours, anything could happen and probably will.
Topping the list is a Le Mans-specification Pilbeam MP100, to be driven by Jaki Scheckter, Graham Vos and Greg Mills, but the recently built car is very much an unknown quantity and the African 6-Hour will mark its race debut.
Last year's winning Pilbeam MP98 will be in the hands of Eddie Keizan and Capetonian Gunter Drotschie and will obviously start as one of the favourites, as will another unusual sports car, the Radical SR8, powered by a 2.6-litre V8 based on two 1300cc Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle engine on a common crankcase.
SHELBY CAN-AM CONTENDERS
A number of Shelby CanAm cars will also be in the hunt for overall honours, including the Campos family effort of multiple CanAm champion Rui Campos and sons Jason and Keegan, and another entered by Craig and Chris Shorter, and former Shelby CanAm title-holder Neil Lobb.
Veterans Alan Eve and Ben Morgenrood shouldn't be ignored either - but the combination of Andrew Strike, Des and Jade Gutzeit could be the surprise of the day. The versatile Barry Ingle will partner Alister Brown and Menno Parsons, along with cars for Tomas Reib and Sean Greve, Greg Walker and Doug Macdonald, and a real 'dark horse' crew of Stuart Mack and Ian Smith, who will team up with Elna Croeser; driver changes, however, as they have to pad the seat for very petite Ms Croeser!
‘WORKS’ PORSCHE ENTRY
The neat and very nimble Harp Juno SS3 showed good pace in the 2013 6-Hour, and it will be interesting to see how far up the order Francis Carruthers, New Zealand sports car champion Dean McCarrol and Johan Engelbrecht finish.
Porsche SA boss Toby Venter has entered a 911 GT3 Cup for himself and Peter Wharton-Hood; a number of insiders are tipping this combination; Venter ruled the roost in the Porsche Turbo Cup series of the late 1980's where he regularly beat stars such as Sarel van der Merwe.
It has been 30 years since Tony Martin won the Daytona 24-hour race but he's lost none of his pace and will share his Backdraft with Franco Scribante to form a strong combination.
A big unknown is the Chevron B19 of Colin Ellison, Pierre De Waal and current Historic F1 world champion Greg Thornton which has the potential to finish in the top six, as does the Porsche 996 GT3RS of Andre Bezuidenhout and Peter Van der Spuy.
In terms of sheer firepower, keep an eye on Harry Arrangies and Craig Jarvis in their 8.4-litre V10 Dodge Viper (yes Cyril, we said eight point four litres) and the interesting Panoz of Dave Alhadeff, Jaco Lambert and Chris Carolin.
The Nissan 350Z of Marco da Cunha, Howard Blake and Gary Sherratt is expected to deliver a good combination of reliability and pace but predicting an Index of Performance winner is almost impossible. Motorsport South Africa chairman Steve Miller and sons Dillon and Mathew (Porsche 911RS) or one of the lightweight Lotus 7 replicas also look good on paper, as does the Hendok Group Nissan 350Z.
LOTUS 7 DERIVATIVES
Colin Chapman's evergreen Lotus 7 may have been designed almost 60 years ago, but a well-sorted Lotus 7 derivative is an amazingly rapid device; Clive Wilmot will be returning to competition in a Birkin 7 which he'll be sharing Rob Gearing and Ettiene Strydom, facing off against two more Sevens - that of Willy Lochman, Tim Clamp and Jonathan Clamp, which has a 400cc capacity advantage as does the Birkin 7 of Neil de Later, Lauren and Anton Muller.
More Lotus 7 projectiles will be in the hands of Hennie Trollip and Jimmy Dunn with another for Rod Schaffer and Rob Hewitt; Neil MacLeod, Glen Clark and Andreas Letnick will share driving duties in a Caterham 7, with another to be shared by Estelle Vermooten, Gerdus Smit and Michael Schlachter.
For a race that favours sports racing cars, there is a significant saloon-car entry, notably the Toyota Corolla of Mike Schmidt and respected engineer Bruce Avern-Taplin, which retired in 2013, a heat-breaking car-length from the finish.
The Volkswagen Golf of Louis Robbertse, Andy Gossman and Greg Gossman has a capacity advantage, as does the similar Golf of Jannie van Rooyen, Gerhard Henning and Adriaan Dalton - but will it be enough? - while Super Saloon spec Tata entry of Fred Kruger, Jody Viana and Deno Myburg is fast - but can it last the distance?
For some, however, the most interesting entry is the classic MGB of Rodney Green, Dave Alexander and Robin Clarke, managed by Di Dugmore with her trademark tomboyish elegance.
After a compulsory night practice session on Friday, qualifying for the African 6-hour will begin at noon on Saturday; the race will start at 2pm and finish six hours later at 8pm.