A European championship-winning diesel-engined BMW 330d will spearhead a surprise overseas element for the African 6 Hour, which is set to revive contemporary endurance racing in this country.
The very quick diesel-powered sedan - which has already won a round of the Britcar 24-Hour championship - has been imported for the race by veteran driver Nick Parrot.
Drivers have yet to be finalised but a second BMW 330d will be crewed by endurance stalwarts Robbie Smith and Mike O' Sullivan, with Parrot either sharing the third drive in this car or driving the overseas-built car.
Entries from all racing disciplines have been pouring in for the race, to be held at the Phakisa Raceway in Welkom on February 23, 2013 - 45 cars so far, ranging from a genuine Pilbeam Le Mans Prototype to a Panoz GTLM, nine Porsche 911-based racers, a number of Shelby Can Ams, and a gaggle of sedans.
DON’T GET THE WRONG IDEA
The race will evoke the spirit of South Africa's strong tradition in endurance racing, but with a modern field of cars competing over the six hours in various classes.
Organiser Roger Pearce said: "Many people have got the wrong idea that this is an endurance race for historic racing car - but that couldn't be further from the truth.
“We are re-kindling a South African tradition of world-class endurance racing and we will be running to current World Endurance Championship rules as regards driver teams, refuelling and the like."
The race has also attracted international interest, with German drivers Frank Norhing and Michael Tischer entered to drive a Porsche 911 RSR.
OPEN TO ALL CLASSES
Pearce pointed out that this would not be an historic racing-car event for cars of by-gone eras, but was open to all classes of sports, GT and saloon cars competing in MSA-sanctioned events across the country.
Thus the beautifully turned-out Nardini Sports racers will compete with Shelby Can Ams, some potent BMW 330 saloons, a number of Volkswagens, Lotus 7s, and the very potent Backdraft sports cars which are Cobra-based track machines that could well be in contention for the overall prize, as well as some cars from the classic racing scene, such as Ford Escorts and VW Sciroccos.
Also entered is the giant-killing Golf from East London run by the Stephen family of racers. "Old man" Neil Stephen, a former works driver for the Opel team in the 1990s, will share the drive with his sons Geoff and Jonathan in a car that started out as a student-commuter car for Geoff Stephen back in 2007.
The Stephen Golf has won its class in endurance races around the country in the past three years and regularly mixes it with sports racers.
Fred Phillips, publisher of Classic and Performance Car Africa, who has competed all over Europe in historic endurance events, has entered his exciting Panoz GTLM car, and it will be interesting to see how this modern GT racer compares to classics such as the Ford GT40 entered by the Scribante family from Port Elizabeth.
For all its 1960s body styling, the Scribante GT40 runs modern race underpinnings and is very quick by modern standards, as are the two Backdraft cars entered by Durban manufacturer Tony Martin, who, not co-incidentally, won the 1984 Daytona 24-Hour endurance race.
Pearce added: "There is also a strong possibility that Peter Bailey will be entering his LM2 car that he has been preparing for Le Mans - and I'm also hoping to attract some of the Ferrari 360 drivers who race here in sprint races."