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Report: Silverlakes Farm Hotel SAES National Championship Round 2
Zwartkops Raceway, Pretoria, 27th April

There was high drama with less than five minutes to go in the Silverlakes Farm Hotel SA Endurance Series event at Zwartkops Raceway at the weekend when race leader, Charl Visser in the Mustang-powered Nova having just set the fastest lap then promptly went off and was stuck in the ‘kitty litter’ for two laps.

However, with a three lap lead over the Into Africa Lamborghini at the time, the Class A Adjust4Sleep Nova Proto still claimed first place overall and top step of the podium while Stuart White/Xolile Letlaka had to be satisfied with second place and closing the deficit to just two laps – this after having had an ABS ring break on the car shortly after the start, putting them well back in the field.

“It was totally my fault,” said Visser. “I chose the wrong line to get past a backmarker.”

Mike McLoughlin and Steve Clark had a great run in the Chev-powered Slingshot Backdraft to finish third overall ahead of the Class C Kashen Naicker/Anthony Pretorius Alfa Romeo that spent the last half hour in a massive tussle with the Class B Samlin Racing Sambane Game Lodge Lamborghini driven in the final stint by Wayne Roach and shared by Nathan Hammond.

Sixth place overall and first in the Backdraft Roadster National Championship class was the Pple Group/Adapt Signage car of Phillip Meyer, Dean Wolson and Mark Harvey that also claimed overall honours for the Index of Performance that measures the ability of the team to maintain a consistent pace throughout.

Second place on Index went to Setshaba Matshego/Karshen Naidoo Backdraft ahead of the similar car of Fabienne Lanz/Lonika Maartens/Lerato Sekudu.

Chris Visser, driving the Adjust4Sleep Nova Proto NP02 blasted the car into pole position with a blistering lap of 56,914 seconds around the 2,4 km circuit – faster even than the outright lap record set by Andre Bezuidenhout in a Dallara F189 Formula 1 car.
But, that’s not all! The top three Class A qualifiers all came in under the one minute mark with the Xolile Letlaka and Stuart White Into Africa Racing Lamborghini claiming second place on 57,513 seconds and a smidgen ahead of the Promigen Audi in the hands of Bradley Liebenberg and Paul Hill with fourth place going to the quickest of the Class B cars, the Samlin Racing Lamborghini Huracan driven by Nathan Hammond and Dawie van der Merwe.

Fifth spot on the grid was taken up by Mike McLoughlin/Steve Clark in the Slingshot Backdraft – repaired after the fuel fire that crippled the car in the final stages of the opening round of the series at Red Star Raceway, but facing a drive-through penalty that had to be taken in the first ten laps of the race having missed the drivers briefing.

Father and son pairing of Roberto and David Franco (Graphix Supply World VW Golf) had a superb qualifying run to be the quickest Class D car – and quicker than the Class C top qualifiers Kashen Naicker and Anthony Pretorius in the Aqua Darshan/Fast Development Backdraft.

Backdraft Roadster V8
As usual the competition in this growing class was fierce and the final spoils of practice went to Dutchmann/Browndeck Racing pairing of Richard van Heerde and Gaving Rooke – theirs a truly tense session as they made it onto track with just three minutes left on the clock after having to change tyres just as the session started.

In the Class, Harm and Barend Pretorius were second fastest in the Pesty Racing entry with Karshen Naidoo and Setshaba Mashego next – the latter having had some issues with the steering on the car in the earlier free practice sessions.

The race started at a frenetic pace and the first 45 minutes went by in what felt like a heartbeat – and would probably have continued had a Safety Car not been called out when the Korridas Volkswagen Golf pulled off in Turn 2 with engine issues and had to be towed back to the pits.

At the time Nick Adcock in the driving seat of the Class A Adjust4Sleep Nova Proto NP02 was equally in the driving seat as far as the race was concerned, leading from the Promigen Audi in the hands of Paul Hill and the Damian Hammond Samlin Racing Lamborghini, which was also the leading Class B car with Dawie van der Merwe in the second of the Samlin cars not too far behind.

“We had some niggles with the cars in practice but we seem to have them sorted,” said Sam Hammond before the start. “I’m looking forward to a good race.”

Kashen Naicker aboard the Aqua Darshan/Fast Development Alfa Romeo was in sixth place and leading the Class C field, while Barend Pretorius for Pesty Racing had control of the Backdraft Roadster category running eighth spot and comfortably ahead of the Class D leader, David Franco in the Graphix World Supply Volkswagen Golf.

Endurance racing is just that and, as the clock ticked over, some gremlins started to creep in – the first to suffer were Stuart White and Xolile Leltaka in the Into Africa Lamborghini. After a couple of blistering opening laps an ABS ring broke and they dropped back to 17th place. By the 1-hour mark White had pulled back to 13th and was up to third overall after 1,5 hours, handing the car over to Letlaka.

The Kalex Volkswagen of Karah Hill and Jurie Swart that ran faultlessly at the Red Star event was forced to retire with Hill saying: “Suddenly it just had no power, and I could barely made it back to the pits. We had an engine mounting break but fixed that and I do not know what caused this.”

A bitterley disappointed Paul Hill was forced to retire the Promigen Audi when a driveshaft broke.

“We really wanted to score some points in this race,” he said. “However, as they say that’s racing. We should have all the right spares in time for the race at Aldo Scribante.”

Mike Verrier in the Revolution Racing Nismo won the 1-hour race-within-a-race and did so easily when Andrew Horne in the Xena Chemicals Ligier had problems in practice and did not make the start.

As the clock ticked over the halfway mark in the race, Michael Jensen, now at the wheel of the Nova, continued to build a lead and was three laps ahead of Mike McLoughlin in the Slingshot Backdraft with Letlaka a further two laps adrift.

Class B was turning into a massive duel between the Samlin Trinity Lamborghini driven by Wayne Roach and Kishoor Pitamber (Backdraft) with mere seconds between them and both being harried by Backdraft Roadster Class E leader, Harm Pretorius in the orange Pesty Racing car with Anthony Pretorius flying the Class C flag in the Alfa Romeo.

As pit stops and tyre changes became necessary some of the order down the field was shuffled so by the 2,5-hour mark the top three remained unchanged, but Kishoor Pitmanber had moved up to fourth ahead of Anthony Pretorius, Damian Hammond and Lerato Seduku in the Class B Backdraft being shared with Fabienne Lanz and Lonika Maartens – this car now free of the brake issues that plagued it during practice.

Charl Visser then took over driving duties in the Nova Proto and kept the lead gap at two laps from McLoughlin with Letlaka still pressuring hard to reduce his one lap gap to the Backdraft driver. By the 3-hour mark Hammond had moved back to fourth from Pretorius with Dean Wolson in the PPLE Group/Adapt Signage Backdraft running in sixth place.

Behind them, and after a brief Safety Car interlude when the Tradecore Racing Backdraft of Blackman/Briner stopped on the circuit with engine problems, Dan Hirsch in the ‘yellow peril’ Backdraft he shared with Trevor Graham went off at Turn 2 – bringing out the yellow flags and another short Safety Car spell.

Just as it looked as if order had been restored and the race would run to its conclusion, the leader went off the road and many nails were bitten to the quick waiting to see if he could get out of the sand and back onto the track – which he managed in time to cross the line still in front.

One of South Africa’s newest racing categories, born out of one of the oldest uninterrupted Formula Vee, has joined forces with the SA Endurance Series to become the official support race category for the remainder of the season and had a three-race bonanza at Zwartkops.

The category is split into two classes – the traditional Vee running an air-cooled Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ engine and the more modern Super Vee that has a 1,6-litre 8-valve Golf/Polo engine providing the power.

Although there were only two Vee cars in the field, it produced a monster tussle between overall winner in the class on the day Allen Meyer and Jannie Gerber with the gap between the two across the finish line as little as 0,28 seconds and all three races saw the pair sparring at every corner.

In the Super Vee class, it was an equally tough battle for overall winner on the day, Lushen Ramchander who had to fight off a strong challenge from Jeandre le Roux in all three encounters – the latter sneaking through in the second race to pip Ramchander to the flag.

However, two wins was enough to give Ramchander overall honours for the meeting from Le Roux with veteran racer, Blane de Meillon third. Although beaten to the flag in two race by Kyle Lawrence, the fact he did not finish the first outing meant he dropped back to seventh overall behind Mark Tucker, Kaveer Ramchander and Anriette Johnson.

Round 3 of the tour sees the SAES field move to the iconic Aldo Scribante Raceway in Coega IDZ – Gqeberha on Saturday June 1st that sees the feature race run into the night with a gruelling car tester of 5 hours, due to conclude at 9pm.

The Five Hours of Aldo Scribante will be co-hosted by the Algoa Motor Sport Club and all their local classes in the das mix.

Issued by Eric Buijs (Media Officer SAES)

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