19th Passion for Speed -Killarney

One week later and still the true value of the 19th Passion for Speed, by G-Energy, at Killarney International Raceway have not been truly valued. The more one scratches the more binding the information becomes.

Great weather and a respectable sized crowd enjoyed viewing some ultra rare and special cars doing what they do best – racing!

Historic Grand Prix Cars Association

Where does one begin to describe what a privilege it was to see this incredible grid of historic Grand Prix machinery at the Killarney International Raceway? The Historic Grand Prix Car Association  (HGPCA) was created in 1979 and caters for Grand Prix cars that were raced on or before 31 December 1965 and their presence at Killarney International Raceway represented the second of eleven rounds on their very active 2020 calender. Their next stop Hockenheim, Germany, on 24-26 April 2020.

Possibly now prepared to a higher degree of perfection than at the peak of their actual racing years quite a few have direct South African connotations and their modern day owners certainly did not hang around on circuit either.

As a director in Aviation 58 year old Lord Gregory Anthony Thornton started racing historic cars at the age of 41, now has eleven “cars with a history” stored at Stansted Airport. His South African born wife, Anthea Ruth Thornton, shares his passion for cars. A two times Masters F1 World Champion and the only driver to date to win both the Pre 1978 (2018) and Post 1978 (2013) categories of the championship. In 2019 he won the USA Masters Post 1978 Historic F1 Championship by winning seven of the eight races and setting the fastest lap in every race driving the ex-Mario Andretti John Player Special Lotus 77 and ex-Ronnie Petersen March 761/03.

Driving the only F5000 car to ever beat the F1 stars during the 1973 Brands Hatch Race of Champions, the Chevron B25 of Pete Guthrie possibly the reason why Greg Thornton also had a tandem seat Lola T330 F5000 present at Killarney. Those privileged to enjoy a few laps were duly impressed whilst the sub 1min 14 times without third gear really raised interest.

Louis Douglas Serrurier was a brilliant South African engineer / driver who built LDS cars exclusively to race in Grand Prix events. The first two was based on Cooper cars and then he moved his designs on to Brabham. The most successful of these cars, the Sam Tingle Brabham BT11 based No 10 can now be found at the Franschhoek Motor Museum. So what you might say but the Team Gunston livery was the very first sponsorship on F1 cars anywhere in the world and John Love / Sam Tingle made that history.

Lord Gregory Thornton entered the 1961 LDS Alfa Romeo #3 chassis and Arnold Herreman the 1962 LDS Alfa Romeo #6. South Africans built Formula One cars and raced them very successfully!

The always immaculately prepared Heron F1 Alfa Romeo of Eddy Perk has a very unique connotation with South Africa. Designed by Les Redmond and Syd Diggory the Formula Junior started life with a Ford 105E engine and the prototype (ie this is the only one in the world) was sold to Anthony Francis O’Connell Maggs in 1960. A Climax engine was fitted and Tony Maggs set out to qualify for the East London South African Grand Prix. Mechanical maladies saw him fail to make the grid and the car was sold on to Ernest Pieterse of the Scuderia Alfa Team who fitted a Virgilio Conrero 1488cc Alfa Romeo STR-4 engine.

Tony Maggs would eventually enter 27 Grand Prix, start 25 and score 26 points driving Cooper, BRM and Lotus cars. Starting with the 9161 British Grand Prix he would finish on the podium three times between 1961 and 1965. Born on 9 February 1937 he passed away in Caledon aged 72 on 2 June 2009. One of the greatest talents in SA motorsport retired after a most unfortunate crash in his Brabham at the Roy Hesketh circuit in which a young spectator, standing in a restricted area, was killed. In 2004 former South African, Eddie Perk, revived the Heron in the United Kingdom and have since become something of a regular returnee to South Africa with this legendary car.

Split into twelve very different classes sixteen Pre 1965 Grand Prix cars made it to Killarney with the class 7b Cooper T53 Coventry Climax of Will Nuthall taking on the class 12 Lotus 18 Coventry Climax of Andrew Beaumont at the front of the field. Rod Jolley looked more than capable of joining this duo in his spectacularly driven class 7b Cooper T45/51 Coventry Climax  as did Justin Maeers in his class 12 Cooper T53 Coventry Climax but the latter two did not enjoy trouble free day.

Having lost the first race to the Cooper it was Andrew Beaumont who really gave it his all in the second heat to set the fastest time of the day at 1min20.706 (remember this is a Pre 1966 F1 racer) enroute to overall victory. Chris Drake claimed third spot in his neat class 10 Cooper T71/73 (with  a little bit of imagination one could possibly have placed John Love behind the wheel) and fourth spot going to Steve Hart in the class 9 Cooper 51 Maserati. James Willis fifth in another class 9 Cooper T45 Coventry Climax and the top six rounded off by the stunning class 10 Heron Alfa Romeo of Eddie Perk.

Having 75 year old Belgian business tycoon, Christian Dumolin, circulating in the 1954 Maserati 250F was reason alone to be present at Killarney. Chassis No 2522 and one of just 26 built made this a rare opportunity to “see” someone like Juan Manuel Fangio or Sir Stirling Moss in action.

Now imagine a grid filled with Pre 1978 Grand Prix cars in 2021!

Single Seater Formula Cars

Richard Smeeton proved dominant in his Formula Junior Wainer Ford with Richard Wilson second overall in the neat Brabham BT6. Matt Nash was down in his Van Diemen RF80 FF and claimed third overall from internationally acclaimed motorsport writer, Marcus Pye, in his Merlyn Mk20 FF. Iain Rowley fifth in the Lotus 22 and Patrick Dunseith sixth overall in his Merlyn Mk25 FF.

Millstock Pre 80 & Pre 90 Classic Cars

Rudolf de Vos simply streaked into the distance in heat one with the Little Chev V8 simply cruising after the Ford Escort 2.3 of Franco Donadio expired with overheating. Eric van der Merwe gave valiant chase in heat two but the Lynx Motorsport Porsche 944T had to settle for second overall. With a break out time of 1min24 in class A it was impressive to see this Can Am circulate at 1min21.194. Trevor Momberg quietly slipped into third overall with his always immaculate Ford Capri Interceptor 3.4 V6 with Jaco Lambert fourth in his almost to modern looking VW Motorsport VW Jetta.

Erik Mouton managed to miss all the obstacles and sort of stayed on the circuit long enough to bring Battlestar Galactica alias the Chevrolet De Ville 6.3 V8 home in fifth place whilst Malcom Uytenbogaardt overworked the rubber on the Carter’s Boys Ford Granada Perana V8 in sixth spot. Dr Geoff Bihl won class B in his Lynx Motorsport Porsche 944 with Trevor Hutchings claiming first in class C with the No1 HSC Racing VW Scirocco. James Matthee won class D in his Honda CRX 1.6 with Steve Hallett claiming a debut class E win in his very neat Ford Capri 3.4 V6. Steve racing with the use of only one arm – and he used to race superbikes like that! Andre Bate claimed class F in the Rob Tissington Morris Minor 1200.

Amongst the visiting crews it was Christopher Radloff that impressed most in his Toyota Corona. Eighth overall for the day certainly good going. Tim Boles had a good drive cut short in the Colin Ellison Ford Thunderbolt when something let go in the differential whilst the little Bestune Fabrication BMC Mini Morris 850 of Shawn Bester certainly found itself in amongst some heavy guns.

Sports & GT / Pre 74 ISP / Pre 74 Trans-Am / Pre 6-68 Le Mans

Beautiful mixed field of seriously modern machinery and elderly serious machinery from an almost forgotten era provided a very varied spectacle but of course nothing smelled the Maui Motorhomes Ginetta G57 of Craig Jarvis. Greg Parton made his trip to Cape Town worthwhile by placing his Drizit Environmental Lamborghini Huracan second overall followed by the neat Juno SS3 of Sandro Biccari and a somewhat surprising Dawie Joubert down in fourth spot in his Wild Rose Gin Lotus Exige Honda Turbo.

If the Chevron B26 V8 of Franco Scribante did not encounter electrical problems in the first heat it could possibly have finished second overall and likewise the position may have gone to Steve Humble in the neat Ravenol Oil Pilbeam MP84 Nissan VQ35 had that not run into problems in heat two. Formerly owned by Brian Johnson of AC/DC the 2001 racer really proved to be quick but failed rear suspension during practice saw Humble take to the dirt.

Fortunately nowhere near as spectacular as the 227km/h brakeless arrival of Dr Mike Verrier in the AidCall 24/7 Shelby Can Am and few laps later. The good news was that the car withstood the high speed impact impressively well and the Dr did not require any medical attention. A crane was however required to recover the Shelby from outside the circuit perimeter wall.

Watching the four Porsche’s in class B circulate in formation was really great as they are certainly colourful as well as quick. Peter van der Spuy proving that all you need to beat modern Porsche racers is an extremely quick classic Porsche RSR Turbo 3.8. Fifth overall required a serious effort in heat two but it certainly paid off as André Brink had to settle for sixth overall in the yellow SSB Transport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup. Gary Kieswetter seventh in the Advanced Packaging Technology Porsche GT3 RS and Gavin Norman eighth in his VW Nardini. Maarten Prins and the Mobil 1 Porsche GT3 Cup spun and stalled in heat one, dropping to an eventual 12th overall.

Ryan Buda claimed class C and ninth overall in his Porsche GT3, Ray Farnham claimed class D and 14th overall in his Opel Birkin 7. In the visitor class it was Swedish driver, Bernt Andersson, leading the way in the Lola T212 BDG. Colin Ellison claimed the honours in the official historic class in the Lucky Strike Chevron B19 with Jan Kling second in his genuine Ford GT40.

Legends of the 9 Hour & Little Giants

Sadly this class failed to deliver as many of the favourites encountered mechanical problems. Peter Lindenberg running smoothly to record overall victory for the Shelby SA Mustang GT350 with Jonathan du Toit second in the Trans Africa Chevrolet Nova V8. Mark du Toit driving the Trans Africa Chevrolet Chevelle V8 to third with the “Little Giant” class B Alfa Romeo Guilia “Caeser” 2.0 of Trevor Tuck a mighty fourth overall. Dr Geoff Bihl fifth in his Lynx Motorsport Porsche 944 with Trevor Hutchings sixth in the HSC Racing VW Scirocco.

Bejo Trustees Fine Cars

Strictly by the numbers the Bejo Trustees Fine Cars did not deliver to their normal standards but Albert Cook deserves credit as he simply drove away from everyone in his neat BMW E36, claiming Index of Performance as well as first place overall. Justin Brink doing well to claim second place on Index with the Access Auto Opel Kadett GTE with Melani Cook third in her Lambert Racing VW Fox.

Di Dugmore fourth on Index in the Piri Piri racing Austin Healey Sprite and Rob Toscano fifth in his Technoparts Mazda MX5. Clifford Bacon was missing a cylinder on the BMW 535i but hung on for sixth on Index with Günther Appelgryn seventh in his lime green No 13 BMW E36 325i.

RST Trac Mac Powersport Motorcycles

Dominic Penny and Trevor Westman had a very entertaining tussle for victory in heat one and a similar spectacle evolved in heat two until the Suzuki SV650 high sided Penny into the scenery at Fastron corner on lap five. No injury to the rider, but intensive care for the Suzuki.

Trevor Westman proceeded to claim overall victory with Edward Roistone second aboard his Kawasaki ER6N and third place going to the incredible Kewyn Snyman aboard his KTM RC390. Slade van Niekerk claimed fourth aboard his Yamaha R3 with David Lindemann fifth aboard a GM Contractors Yamaha R3. Wessel Swanepoel taking sixth spot on his Kawasaki SV650.

Franco Flach entertained turn one spectators when his Kawasaki 650 rid itself of it’s chain at speed.

RST Trac Mac Clubmans / Classic  & Breakfast Run

Dylan Croudace  proved that consistency pays dividends by turning two second places into overall victory aboard his Ducati Panigale with Wayne Arendse second on his JJ Smith Trust Kawasaki ZX10R and Willem Binedell third aboard his similar Chef at Home Kawasaki ZX10R. Paul Rulu fourth aboard his Engine Guru Kawasaki ZX10R with Justin Michau sixth on a Honda CBR600RR.

Nather Taliep winning the Breakfast Class on his Suzuki GSXR750.

SA TT & Invitation Cars

Poorly supported in numbers it was however quite interesting to watch as cars fell by the wayside during the 45min endurance race. Mark du Toit have always dominated this event in the Walls Catch Me and Buy One Lola T70 but this year it broke down early. He then jumped ship and joined Jonathan du Toit in the blue Trans Africa Daytona Coupe and that then broke down.

Bernt Andersson and Michael Kernick then looked the most likely winners but the normally very reliable Lola T212 BDG started to sound rough and lost time in the pits. The Jan Kling Ford GT40 another early retirement to be followed by the Daytona Coupe of Peter Lindenberg and James Temple. Not even their innovative extra wing could assist them.

Having started from the pitlane Lord Gregory Thornton quickly made up the deficit in the Colin Ellison Lucky Strike Chevron B19 and they looked very strong until Marcus Pye took over as driver. Suddenly Kennet Persson and his genuine Ford GT40 became a serious challenger and when Pye eventually spun and stalled the B19 in Fastron corner it was victory for the Swedish driver Kennet Persson and the Ford GT40.

The Lord Gregory Thornton / Marcus Pye Lucky Strike Chevron B19 second with the Turn 5 crowd favourite Harm van Putten third overall. Bored the photographers at Fastron corner gestured to Harm van Putten that the yellow Chevrolet Corvette Stingray would look much better if it was driven sideways.

The Dutch driver responded by doing just that, every lap! On the final lap the car cut out as he reached the final straight to the chequered flag and he just managed to coast it home. His entertaining driving obviously made the Corvette thirstier but he will be going home as the crowd favourite. Now if Michiel Campagne would just add the traditional blue Stingray in 2021!

Christer Pernvell fourth in his extremely neat Porsche 911, Mel Spur and Wouter Roos (who was celebrating his birthday) fifth in the MGB 1.8 and Jonathan / Mark du Toit classified as sixth in the Daytona Coupe.