Home trio Francis Carruthers, Nick Adcock and Johan Engelbrecht put in a stirring performance to dominate the South African 9-hour Endurance Race at Killarney, Cape Town. The Harp Motorsport trio driving a Juno SS V6 based at the Killarney circuit took a lead they would never relinquish on the second lap and simply drove away to leave the rest to fight it out behind them, completing 372 laps in the nine hours.

And fight it out the rest certainly did with second place and the GT category decided in the last hour, when former Le Mans 24-hour winner, Dutch driver Jan Lammers driving the Team Africa Le Mans Ginetta G55 with SA race legend Sarel van der Merwe and Greg Mills, chased the second placed Simon Murray, Craig Jarvis and Andrew Culbert’s Simon Murray Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup down into a spectacular Cape Town sunset to wrest second overall and first GT car home, 15 laps behind the leaders with less than an hour to run.

The Murray Porsche then hit trouble to retire minutes from the end — to be classified as a 9-hour finisher the car has to be running at the finish and despite turning in enough laps to have seen them to third, the Porsche had stopped to allow the similar Fourie Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Keith Fourie, Gary Fourie and William D Luzmore through to complete the podium.

Lammers-van der Merwe-Mills Ginetta

Lammers, van der Merwe and Mills fought hard to second overall and the Index win
Photographer – Heinrich Sauer

The second placed Lammers-van der Merwe-Mills Ginetta also won overall Index of Performance, which scores crews on their consistency throughout the race versus their fastest lap of the race. The race winning Carruthers, Adcock and Engelbrecht Juno was second on Index ahead of a giant-killing display as the AutoNews entered Nathans team Sebenza Alpine Volkswagen Golf trio Zander Roos, Steve Truter and Ernst Viljoen brought one of the slowest cars on the grid home third on Index of Performance.

Another consistent crew, Stefan Puschavez and Craig Jarvis’ MI Equipment Porsche 911 RS rumbled home in fourth overall, 60 laps behind the winners and two laps ahead of Vos brothers Duncan and Graham in the Ecurie Zoo Juno, which hit trouble early on before fighting back to fifth, a further 3 laps clear of Elna Croeser, Jon Wilson and Doug MacDonald’s Fantastic Racing Shelby Can Am.

Alfa Romeo South Africa GT trio Theo Van Vuuren, Bradley Scorer and Martin Botha were the first saloon car home in seventh overall, having fought back from an incident at mid distance, with Taylon Motorsport trio Jeff Gable, James Forbes and David Jermy eighth in their Birkin7 ahead of the Mike Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin Gumtree Frankies Toyota Corolla as Gavin Ross, Iain Stevenson and Derick Smalberger rounded off the top ten in their Cosmol Norbrake VW Polo, which hunted down the Roos-Truter-Viljoen VW Golf to take the Class G win with only 25 minutes left on the clock.

Seventeen of the 27 starters finished the race, with the pole-winning Rui, Jason and Keegan Campos family Hollard Shelby V8 a notable early retirement, while Thomas Reib, Sean Greve and Andre Bezuidenhout’s Rico Barlow Racing Ligier and Colin Plit, Dawie Joubert and Mark Patterson’s Juno fought up front early on before both retiring.

In the classes, overall winners Carruthers, Adcock and Engelbrecht took Class R, the Croeser, Wilson and MacDonald Shelby won Can Am Class P and the Lammers, van der Merwe and Mills’ Ginetta stole a hotly contested Class V from the Fourie-Fourie-Luzmore Porsche. The Mike McLoughlin-Piet Bredenhann-Mark Owens Backdraft Cobra took Class U and the Puschavez-Jenkins Porsche won Class W with the Gable, Forbes and Jermy Birkin first in Class Y. Van Vuuren, Scorer and Botha’s Alfa Romeo took Class I and the Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin Toyota won Class F

Class G was however the biggest class in the field and it produced an epic race, with the Ross, Stevenson and Smalberger Polo initially leading the way before hitting trouble to allow the Dewald Brummer and Bevan Williams’ MAD Racing/Ango Truck VW Golf into the class lead. But they too hit trouble to allow Ebrahim Levy, David Walker and Michele Lupini’s Index of Performance leading AutoNews/Jive/HHR Golf into the lead at mid distance.

But that car hit an electrical problem, which saw the VW Golf driven by Deon Crous, Ronald van Rensburg and Terence Ehlers into the class lead until they were slowed to allow the Levy-Walker-Lupini car, which had by then fought back to an incredible fifth overall and a commanding Index lead, back into the class lead. That car’s differential then exploded at seven hours to see another local crew, Peet Van der Walt, Gavin Cerff and Clint Renard’s PSW Sport VW Polo leading the class until it stopped with engine trouble.

So the Ross, Stevenson and Smalberger Polo was back in front at nightfall, but lighting problems saw it into the pits to allow the Roos-Truter-Viljoen Golf to lead the class into the darkness. Ross however put in a stirring drive to overhaul Viljoen and take the class win by just 35 seconds after nine hours of racing!

The South African 9-hour endurance race produced a thrilling day’s racing at Killarney, where African Endurance Series organisers confirmed a 6-round 2016 championship starting with the Welkom 6 Hour on 27 February before four three-hour races at Port Shepstone’s Dezzi Raceway on 14 May, East London on 23 July, Zwartkops on 3 September and in Port Elizabeth on 15 October.

Next year’s season will close with a Killarney 6 Hour on 12 November and judging by the success of this increasingly popular series and this year’s 9-hour race, the African Endurance Series looks set to become a most significant aspect of the South African racing calendar…

South African 9-hour, Killarney – Overall Results

1. F Carruthers/N Adcock/J Engelbrecht (Class R Harp Motorsport Juno) 372 laps
2. J Lammers/S vd Merwe/ G Mills (Class V Africa Le Mans Ginetta) 357 laps
3. K Fourie/G Fourie/W Luzmore (Class V Fourie Racing Porsche) 346 laps
4. S Puschavez/K Jenkins (Class W MI Equipment Porsche) 304 laps
5. D Vos/G Vos (Class R Ecurie Zoo Juno) 302 laps
6. E Croeser/J Wilson/D MacDonald (Class W Fantastic Shelby Can Am) 299 laps
7. T v Vuuren/B Scorer/M Botha (Class I Alfa Romeo SA Alfa Romeo) 298 laps
8. J Gable/J Forbes/D Jermy (Class Y Taylon Birkin) 288 laps
9. M Schmidt/B Avern-Taplin (Class F Gumtree Frankies Toyota) 283 laps
10. G Ross/I Stevenson/D Smalberger (Class G Cosmol Norbrake VW) 280 laps
11. Z Roos/S Truter/E Viljoen (Class G AutoNews Nathans Alpine VW) 280 laps
12. D Crous/R v Rensburg/T Ehlers (Class G Hendok VW) 247 laps
13. M Altona/P Zeelie/S Pickering (Class R Mitsubishi Electric Porsche) 223 laps
14. C Hart/S Hart/G Wright (Class G Tyre Plus VW) 219 laps
15. M Verrier/B Algar/D Lobb (Class W Fantastic Shelby Can Am) 208 laps
16. M McLoughlin/JP Bredenhann/M Owens (Class U Backdraft Cobra) 202 laps
17. T Martin/M Wright/P de Klerk (Class V Backdraft Cobra) 171 laps

Index of Performance Results

1. J Lammers/S vd Merwe/ G Mills (Ginetta)
2. F Carruthers/N Adcock/J Engelbrecht (Juno)
3. Z Roos/S Truter/E Viljoen (VW)