Ligier Trio takes Mopar 6 Hour

Nick Adcock, Gavin Cronje and Simon Murray overcame sizzling conditions as they outfoxed their opposition before settling down to take an ultimately easy Mopar 6 Hours of the Free State victory in the Cape-based AidCall247 Rico Barlow Racing Ligier JS49 sports racer Saturday evening.

The trio had earlier diced furiously for the lead of the race, choosing a longer stint strategy versus their immediate rivals, but it was ultimately the French machine’s reliability that saw them to victory over brothers Duncan and Graham Vos’ Ecurie Zoo Juno that fought back to second after losing time early on.

Charl and Harry Aranges in essence led the GT category from start to finish to slot their Vaal Hydraulics Ferrari 360 Challenge onto the third step of the podium overall ahead of GT runners-up, Fred de Kock, Gary Sherratt and Justin Mathie’s Hendok Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

A high rate of attrition allowed the Darren Winterboer/Ian Howden/Richard Robinson former production car championship winning Bucketlist BMW 335i to fifth overall and the first saloon car home, two laps clear of Natal duo Steve Truter and Wayne Lotter’s BMW M3 in sixth overall and second tin-top home but just a lap clear of a truly giant-killing performance from Deon Crous, Ronald van Rensburg and David Russell’s Hendok VW Golf 1 GTI.

Overall leaders earlier on, Francis Carruthers, Johan Engelbrecht and Thomas Reib drove their Malta No. 1 Harp Juno back up into eighth overall following earlier issues, passing another giant-killing Golf, the MAD racing car of Dewald Brummer and Bevan Williams on the last lap. They MAD Golf wound up three laps clear of the Jannie van Rooyen/Adrian Dalton/Gerhard Henning Extra VW Scirocco, which rounded off the top ten

The race started in sweltering heat with the Franco Scribante/Tony Martin Chevron B26 on pole position from the Adcock/Cronje/Murray Ligier and the Carruthers/ Engelbrecht/Reib Juno as the Chevron belted off pole position to initially open up a 15-second lead over the Vos Juno until the leaders started lapping backmarkers.

Then the gap settled down to see Scribante leading Vos with the Ligier maintaining a watching brief ahead of the Carruthers/Engelbrecht/Reib Juno and the Campos Shelby in an exclusively green flag first hour. The Chevron had opened up a minute lead into the second hour, but the dice for second was intense as the Ligier closed the Vos Juno down to initialise an interesting tussle for second before the first round of scheduled pit stops started to play out with the pitlane becoming a hive of activity

The race later took on a rather different look with the erstwhile leading Chevron detained in the pits for over five minutes and the Ligier running a good few laps longer to lead the way by a lap from the fastest car on track at that stage, Carruthers’ and Vos’ Junos, with the Chevron two laps adrift in fourth and no longer lapping quite as quickly. The Vos Juno was then slowed by a 7-lap pitstop after a wheel exploded, to allow the charging Harp Juno into second and the Colin Plit Tricera Juno into third.

The lead dice between the Ligier and the Curruthers Juno was intense for a while around the half distance mark with the longer-running Ligier seconds behind the Juno, as the Chevron’s charge came to an end when too-high engine temperatures saw the car in limp mode before being towed in.

By the fourth hour, the leading Juno had faltered and was visiting the pits too often as it tumbled down the order to leave the Ligier alone up front.

The GT race was a far simpler affair, with the Vaal Hydraulics Ferrari leading all the way except on a few occasions when the Hendok Porsche ran a little longer on fuel and stayed out to snatch the advantage after the Ferrari stopped, only to lose out when it pitted again.

The Bucketlist BMW also enjoyed a fairly simple run to be the first tin-top home although it was kept honest all the way by the Truter M3 and the Alfa Romeo GT, which later ran into problems before fighting back to be fifteenth but not running at the finish. However do not forget the little Golfs and the Jetta were as always reliable as they ran like clockwork to score a pretty incredible 7th, 9th and 10th overall.

In the prototype classes, the winning Ligier took Class S and the second placed Vos Juno won Class R, and the Michael Jensen/Mike Lauth Fantastic Racing Can Am Class P. The third-placed Ferrari won GT Class V, the Stefan Puschavez/Kevin Jenkins’ Porsche took Class W, Rod Sachafer and Rob Mordurant (Lotus 7) took Class Y and Tim and Clamp, David Jermy and Mark Fitcher won Class X in a Birkin 7.

The saloon car classes saw the Bucketlist BMW take Class I, the Hendok Golf Class G and the Schmidt/Avern-Taplin Frankies Toyota Corolla Class H

The next round of the Mopar African Endurance Series will be in May at a venue to be confirmed following a reshuffle to the championship that will see the 9-hour return to Kyalami in November

Mopar African Endurance 6-hours of the Free State – Results
1: Nick Adcock/Gavin Cronje/Simon Murray (Ligier JS49) 190 laps
2: Duncan & Graham Vos (Juno SSV6) 183 laps
3: Charl & Harry Aranges (Ferrari 360 Challenge) 181 laps
4: Fred de Kock/Gary Sherratt/Justin Mathie (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) 176 laps
5: Darren Winterboer/Ian Howden/Richard Robinson (BMW 335i) 169 laps
6: Steve Truter/Wayne Lotter (BMW M3) 167 laps
7: Deon Crous/Ronald van Rensburg/David (VW Golf 1 GTI) 166 laps
8: Francis Carruthers/Johan Engelbrecht/Thomas Reib (Juno SS V6) 165 laps
9: Dewald Brummer/Bevan Williams (VW Golf 1 GTI) 165 lap
10: Jannie van Rooyen/Adrian Dalton/Gerhard Henning (VW Scirocco) 161 laps

Classes:
G: Crous/van Rensburg/Russell (VW)
H: Schmidt/Avern-Taplin Frankies (Toyota)
I: Winterboer/Howden/Robinson (BMW)
R: Vos/Vos (Juno)
S: Adcock/Cronje/Russel (Ligier)
T: Salamon/Sinclair/Gorman (Elf S06)
V: Aranges/Aranges (Ferrari)
W: Puschavez/Jenkins (Porsche)
X: Schafer/Mordurant (Lotus)
Y: Clamp/Clamp/Jermy/Fitcher (Birkin)
Ends
* Mopar, an aftersales division of Fiat Group Automobiles South Africa (Pty) Ltd, was confirmed as sponsor the 2016 African Endurance Series last Friday. Mopar is synonymous with performance vehicles and motorsport internationally and the sponsorship will include Ignition TV Channel 189 coverage.
Issued on behalf of the Mopar African Endurance Series