Thrills aplenty at 16th Zwartkops Festival of Speed

Thrills aplenty at 16th Zwartkops Festival of Speed
 

Brilliant on-track action, a large crowd and variable weather conditions typified the 2017 international Passion for Speed historic racing extravaganza at the Zwartkops Raceway near Pretoria on Saturday. The day’s two premier events for SKF Pre-1966 Legend Production Saloon Cars produced lots of action, some mechanical mayhem and varied results.

The opening race saw pre-event favourites Sarel van der Merwe (Ford Galaxie) and Hennie Groenewald (Plymouth Fury) sidelined when their cars broke. That left Ferdi van Niekerk Junior (Ford Galaxie) to take victory ahead of Jonathan du Toit (Chev Nova), Paolo Cavalieri (Ford Galaxie), Peter Lindenberg (Ford Mustang) and Leeroy Poulter (Chev Belair).

Both Van der Merwe and Groenewald returned to race two with different cars – Groenewald in a Mercury Comet and Van der Merwe in a Chev Belair. Groenewald and Van Niekerk Junior diced mightily for most of the race, until Van Niekerk spun his Galaxie at high speed coming into the pit straight. Groenewald took the victory, followed by Cavalieri, Poulter, Lindenberg, Du Toit and Clive Densham (Alfa Romeo GTA) .

Officially, the day’s main event was the 45-minute Castrol Tourist Trophy race for Pre-1968 Le Mans Sports and GT cars. The opening corner saw Mike Briggs crash his Daytona Coupe and many competitors opted to do their mandatory three-minute pit stop right away. That led to a number of lead changes, but the race was eventually won by Peter Bailey (Ford GT40), followed by Mark/Jonathan du Toit Lola T70) and Donald Duncan/Steve Hart (McLaren).

Peter Bailey - 1965 Ford GT40 - Pre66-68 SA TT

Rain hit the first heat for Castrol Pre-1974 Sports Racing Prototypes, turning Zwartkops into a skating rink. Various competitors opted to stop, rather than chance the conditions on slick tyres, while many who tried to race ended up spinning all over the place. In the end Andre’ Bezuidenhout (Porsche RSR) won, ahead of Keegan Campos (Porsche RSR) and Colin Ellison (Chevron B19). Race two was run in brilliant sunshine and saw Franco Scribante (Chevron) take the flag ahead of Roman de Beer (Lola T70) and Jonathan du Toit (Chevron B8).

Rally and off-road racing ace Leeroy Poulter gave the McLaren 650 its South African motorsport  debut in the G&H Transport Extreme Supercar races. He did so in style, winning the first heat from Franco Scribante (Ferrari 430) and Simon Murray (Lamborghini Galardo). Poulter led race two as well, but spun after an uncharacteristic mistake. That left Murray to win from Scribante and Dawie Olivier (BMW M3).

Colin Ritchie (Mini Cooper S) won the first SKF Little Giants race from Andy Gossman (Datsun Sunny) and Shaun Cabrita (Mini Marcos). Cabrita won the second time, followed by Josh Dovey (Austin Healy Sprite) and Ishmael Baloyi  (GSM Dart). The first race for SKF Under Two-litre cars went to Alan Poulter (Volvo 122S), ahead of Mark du Toit (Alfa GT) and Trevor Tuck (Alfa Giulietta). Larry Davies (Alfa Giulietta) won the next time, followed by Francesca Lombardi (Alfa Giulia Sprint) and Jacques Baartman (Alfa GT Junior).

Robbi Smith (Ford Capri Perana) took the first race for Pre-1984 Classic Production Cars, followed by Paolo Cavalieri  (BMW 745) and Ben Morgenrood (Ford Mustang). Smith dropped out of race two, leaving Cavalieri to win from Roy Obery (Porsche 924) and Morgenrood.

Mike Ward (Royale) won the first Historic Single Seater race ahead of Graham Vos (Dulon) and Alan Bailie (Cooper F1). Baillie won the next time out, leading home Richard Smeeton (Wainer FJ) and Ward.

Jeffrey Kruger (Birkin 7) and Jeff Gable (Birkin 7) took the first two places in both  Lotus Challenge races. Sean Hewitt (Birkin S3) and Connor Jones (Birkin 7) took turns on the final podium step.

Charles Arton (March 79B)  won both the Wings and Slicks single seater  races. On the first occasion he was followed by Colin Ellison (Ralt RT4) and Ian Schofield (March 77B). The next time around, Schofield and AJ Kernick (Reynard) filled out the podium places. – Andre de kok (Pics: Dave Ledbitter)

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