SA Endurance Series gets South African motorsport back on track
• Williams F1 team looked good during Qualifying on Saturday.
• The Gasly/Albon swap at Red Bull remains a topic of interest.
• Mercedes to lap the field again at Silverstone in August.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
Four months and four days after the originally scheduled start, the South African Endurance Series will get South Africa's circuit racing season back on track when the opening round of the 2020 championship takes place at Zwartkops Raceway on Saturday, 25 July.
Over 30 cars will take to the 2.4km-long circuit at 13:15 to see who can make it to the finish of the Backdraft 500 four hours later.
Class S, for sports racing cars with an engine capacity less than three litres, is likely to produce a good fight. The Scribante Racing Suzuki powered Chevron B26 with Franco and Silvio Scribante at the wheel is expected to be the quickest vehicle on track in terms of pure lap time.
Xolile Letlaka will join Charl Arangies in the Lamorghini Huracan. Image: Paul Bedford
Still, endurance racing is not always about speed. Romano Sartori and Franco Di Matteo in the AMC Ligier and James Forbes and Riaan Bothma in the Auto Investment Ligier will be doing their best to spoil the Scribante's plans for victory with both pairings having a ton of experience to call upon.
Class V caters for sports racing cars up to 2000cc. At the time of writing, Dean Wolson, Philip Meyer and Gerald Wright in the Wright Motorsport Sports 2000 look like they are going to have things all their own way in the class, although the chance of a couple of late entries could change things.
The Into Africa Mining/Vaal Fluid Systems Lamborghini Huracan, that last saw service at the Kyalami 9-Hour, will be in the hands of Charl Arangies and Xolile Letlaka. They will be looking for the GT3 class win but to do so, they will have to overcome the challenge from the father and son pairing of Marcel and Dayne Angel who have regularly taken class honours in the past and will be looking to do so again in their Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458. The GT5SA class looks like it will be a straight fight between Brian Martin and Trevor Graham in their Backdraft Racing Roadster and Tony Martin and Mike McLoughlin in a similar car.
Class E will provide a race within a race.
Marcel and Dayne Angel won the GT3 category at Zwartkops back in 2018. Image: Paul Bedford
Tony Martin and Backdraft Racing have made several identical Backdraft Roadsters available to teams to use in the series.
The cars, powered by a Lexus V8 motor, will demand a lot from the drivers as there are no electronic aids such as traction control or ABS to make their lives easier.
While it is difficult to predict a winner in this class, former tin-top racer Bryan Morgan, who has joined forces with Donavan Taylor, could be near the front.
Zane Pierce has teamed up with John Simpson while the Team N4 Autocraft entry will be piloted by JP Nortje, Piet Nortje and Roelf du Plessis. The Kalex/Creative Ink entry has Stiaan Kriel and Kosie Weyers at the wheel while Steve Clark and Regard Roets have joined forces in the Old Dog Racing entry. Harm and Barend Pretorius have entered the Team Petsy Racing vehicle with Graham and Jean du Toit joining the fray in the Dream Ahead entry.
A pair of Maximo Racing cars, the first with the Richter duo at the wheel, the second piloted by Bevan Willams and Kurt Blakewell, round out the Class E entry list.
A dozen cars, split across two classes, will fight it out for the tin-top crown.
Class A, for normally aspirated cars with a capacity of fewer than two litres, is an all VW Polo affair. Reno van Heerden and Almero van Eck have joined forces in the Glock VW Polo while Andy Gossman, Maritz le Roux, Roland Hopkins and Ben Morgenrood will mount a challenge in the Elegant Fuels entry.
Brian Martin and Trevor Graham. Image: Paul Bedford
Mike Barbaglia, Eric Gander, and Luiggi and Elio Muzzulini have united under the FSS International banner in another Polo.
In Class B, where manufacturer-produced forced-induction motors may be used, Volkswagen Motorsport young guns Bradley Liebenberg and Jonathan Mogotsi will be looking to lead the way in their VW Polo. Still, they should face some stiff competition from stablemates Daniel Rowe and Keagan Masters in a similar car.
The Polos will be challenged by a trio of Minis for class honours. Kris Budnick and Christopher Pretorius in the Tilt Advisory supported car, Riaan and Ruan Bouwer (KL Engineering/Gauteng Bus and Coach Mini) and the Fast Developments Mini of Bradley Scorer and Kishoor Pitamber will all be in the fight as will the trio of Wouter Roos, Louis Scholtz and Graeme Nathan in a VW Golf.
Rory Atkinson and Matt Cohen have teamed up in the BHIT VW Polo with a pair of Squadracorse Polos, the first in the hands Nathi Msimanga, Reaobaka Komane and Courtney Nichol, with the second being driven by Greg Gossman, Wayne Masters and Benjamin Morgenrood, completing the Class B field.
In the one-hour Sports & GT race run in conjunction with the Backdraft 500, Graham Vos (Ecurie Zoo Juno), will take on Ian Smith (Revolution Racing Shelby Can-Am and Gavin Rooke (Nash MW3). Unfortunately, the Covid-19 protocols in place for the event mean that no spectators will be permitted at Zwartkops, however, fans will be able to follow the action on the SA Endurance Series Facebook page.