The 2016 African Endurance Series heads to East London for the Mopar Border Three Hour race at the Grand Prix Circuit on Saturday 23 July with all eyes on Nick Adcock and Simon Murray’s dominant Rico Barlow Racing/Aid Call 24/7 Ligier JS49 as it chases a hat trick of wins at the third round of the championship.
Nick Adcock in the AidCall24 Rico Barlow Racing Ligier
Image by Paul Bedford – Action Images
East London is steeped in race history, being the venue of the South African Grand Prix from the 1930s through the ‘60s. The Grand Prix Circuit has been the venue of many a classic race beyond the grands prix over the years, including the legendary Border 100 and several Sunshine and Springbok Series endurance races and Saturday 23 July is set to add to the legend.
The Border Three Hour also welcomes a little international spice in the form of Brazilian duo Rodrigo Mello and Jao Paulo Mauro aboard the Big Foot Express Porsche 991 Cup to stir things up among the regulars, but they may well have their work cut out considering the performance of local crews racing in the series so far this Mopar African Endurance season.
Consistent and reliable, Adcock and Murray have had a great run so far, winning both the season-opening Mopar 3 Hours of the Free State at Phakisa and Killarney’s Mopar Cape Three Hour. The Ligier may not be the quickest car in the series, but it certainly has been there when it has counted, leaving overall challengers and Adcock’s old team, Francis Carruthers and Johan Engelbrecht’s Harp Motorsport Malta No. 1 Juno SS3 to pick up the pieces. Carruthers and Engelbrecht still want a win on their 2016 CV and where better than at the classic East London Grand Prix Circuit?
The Ligier and the Juno will have considerable competition for overall honours with no less than five Shelby-Nissan Can Ams breathing down their necks — four of them being Fantastic Racing entries for the ever-competitive pairing of Michael Jensen and Mark Lauth backed up by Michael Verrier and Wayne Jardine, Doug MacDonald and Johan Steenberg. The fifth Can Am has V8 legend Larry Wilford and Fritz Kleynhans at the wheel.
Other interesting sportscar entries include James Forbes and Joe dos Santos’ rapid turbo Hyabusa-powered AER MCE3 and PE trio Kevin Reynolds, national rally man Brian Heine and Hennie Crous’ VSP S2000, while Hennie Trollip and Dave Sinclair Team Lessons and Neil MacLeod and Andreas Letnick’s Just Racing Lotus Sevens and Eric Salomon and Clinton Thorn’s Elf S06 can all spring a surprise.
Others on for overall victory are the leading GT class Big Foot Express Porsche 911 GT3s in the hands of the Brazilians Mello and Mauro and local duo Sun Moodley and Andrew Culbert, while the ever-steady Mike Altona and Steve Pickering will be out in the Classic Motorsport Porsche 910.
One entry that has proven to be a plausible shock overall winner is Johannesburg crew and African Endurance regulars Theo van Vuuren and Bradley Scorer’s giant-killing Mopar Alfa Romeo GT that ended a stunning third overall and won Index of Performance in the recent Cape Three Hour.
Van Vuuren and Scorer will have to contend with ‘Maritzburg duo Steve Truter and Wayne Lotter’s Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3 as well as a swathe of smaller machinery the likes of Mike Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin’s ever-present Frankies Soft Drinks Toyota Corolla and the VW Golf 1 GTis for Mad Racing’s Dewald Brummer and Bevan Williams and the Xtra Shoes entry driven by Dalton and Labatsky. You can bet that among them will be well into the top ten by the time the sands stop flowing at the end of three hours’ racing.
“We are looking forward to a great weekend in East London,” Mopar African Endurance Series boss Roger Pearce admitted. “The Grand Prix Circuit is the ideal venue for an endurance race — fast and flowing with a tight infield and a decent length track, it is also steeped in history and quite idyllic being pretty much on the beach. “All in all it augurs very well for another great African Endurance Race.”
Teams will practice on Friday afternoon 22 July with qualifying 08:35 Saturday morning 23 July and the Three Hour will start just after midday Saturday. National Sports Car Championship, regional Modified Saloon, Historic Saloon and Motorcycle races will add to the entertainment from 09h55 Saturday morning and again after the Mopar Border Three Hour race, all of which should make for an excellent day’s racing!