root - February 13, 2024

Spectacular Crash and Victorious Moments.

Iconic Cars and Heart-Pounding Racing

Dave Abrahams.

Killarney’s 2024 season-opening Passion for Speed international event presented in association with Smile 90.4 FM had it all, as magnificent historic cars and motorcycles brought the golden era of motorsport back to life. The day was filled with close, hard-fought racing and unexpectedly ‘brisk’ parade laps – plus the most spectacular crash seen at Killarney for many years, from which ‘Oom Steve’ Bekker was fortunate to walk away unscathed!

Nevertheless, the stars of the show were undoubtedly the Pre-1966 Formula 1 cars of the Historic Grand Prix Car Association, carrying hallowed names such as Lotus, Cooper, BRM, Lola and Maserati. These cars are now more than half a century old and virtually priceless – but their racing is for real! The leaders were lapping at around 1min20sec – a respectable time for even today’s Formula Libre open-wheelers.

In Race 1, Michael Gans in the ex-John Love Cooper T79, which started life as Bruce McLaren’s works car for the 1965 Tasman Series, and Martin Shaw in the 1961 Lotus 21 that Jim Clark famously spun in Hoal’s Hoek while leading the Cape Grand Prix in January 1962, and which later won an SA Formula 1 title for Ernie Pieterse, diced wheel to wheel for the lead for 15 laps.

But it was Gans who was ahead by just 2.777 seconds at the line, with Richard Smeeton’s 1963 Wainer FJ third. Gans went on to win Race 2 by an emphatic 58 seconds from Shaw, while Smeeton fought back from a poor start to take third, just two seconds behind Shaw.

The Laude Classic Cars fielded the biggest entry of the day with 34 cars on the grid, led by the thundering Chev Can-Ams of Rudi de Vos from Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape and local hero Franco Donadio. The latter is better known for his very quick Ford Escort – but there is a limit to what can be done with a two-litre four, and Donadio was out for the very first time in this five-litre V8-powered monster.

He put it on pole with a qualifying time of 1:20.281 and was less than a second ahead of De Vos, with Cross Cape Forklift Services team-mates Michael Hitchcock (Ford Mustang) and Glen Uytenbogaardt (Ford Granada Perana) in hot pursuit on lap five of Race 1 when Volkswagen Passat driver Steve Bekker’s monumental crash exiting Interceptor Corner brought out the red flags.

Humble and Joubert went at it again in Race 2, lapping at a scorching 1min10sec, but Joubert dropped off the pace a little in the closing stages, as Humble came home 15 seconds ahead, with Kieswetter third, half a minute further back. Pre-74 leaders Persson and Du Toit finished less than five seconds apart after a superb midfield dice, once again in eighth and ninth respectively.

Kewyn ‘Rocket Man’ Snyman on the new Missile Motorcycles CBR1000 stamped his authority on the Superbike races, winning both outings in fine style – but that doesn’t mean he had it all his own way. Ronald Slamet on the RSRA ZX-10R took the hole shot in Race 1 and led for three laps from Slade ‘Wild Child’ van Niekerk, out for the first time on the Project Sixty SA ZX-10R, Snyman and Tristin Pienaar, also making his Superbike debut on a Missile Motorcycles S1000RR.

On lap four Snyman went on the charge, passing both Van Niekerk and Slamet, and pulling away to win by almost eight seconds, while Van Niekerk, Slamet and Pienaar debated second, finishing in that order within less than a second after a superb battle.

Quinten Weening on the Bulldog Racing R1 was the first Challenge rider home in seventh while the only 600cc entrant, Mike Hunter on the LLG Properties/Microil ZX-6R, came home ninth overall.

Slamet was first into Hoal’s Hoek again at the start of Race 2 but by the end of lap one Snyman had moved into a lead that he was to hold to the end, taking the flag 8.7 seconds ahead of Pienaar and Van Niekerk, with Slamet dropping back in the closing stages to finish a further three seconds adrift.

Veteran Wayne Arendse on the JJ Smith Trust ZX-10R was the top Challenger in eighth overall, and Hunter rounded off the day with another ninth place overall.

Glen Phillips won both Kaltron Formula Supercars and Fine Cars races, chased all the way in Race 1 by Ryan Kat and Kyle Hallick, while hot-starting TV presenter Ernest Page, out for the first time in a Formula Supercar, got it all wrong on lap three, but recovered to finish fifth behind Brad Fenner.

Gunther Appelgryn (BMW E36), Arnold Lambert (Volkswagen Jetta) and Natasha Tischendorf (also in a Jetta) headed the Fine Cars division. 

Hallick took the fight to Phillips in Race 2, finishing little more than a second in arrears, with Page just 0.662sec further back after eight exciting laps. Among the Fine Cars, meanwhile, Appegryn, Lambert and Dave Alexander (Piri Piri Racing Morgan Plus 8) finished in that order within just 0.264sec.

The 30 Minute Dash including Pre-1970 Le Mans Sports & GTs attracted an intriguing mix of modified modern saloons and 1960’s muscle – but it was Oliver Hintenaus (BMW) M3 who moved into the lead on lap seven and completed 22 consistent laps to take line honours ahead of Steve Hart’s Ford GT40, with Hennie Bosman’s rotary-powered Lotus 7 third, a lap down. Fourth, another lap down, was Hintenaus’ father, former Dakar hero Albert Hintenaus in a BMW 328i.

Donadio got the holeshot again at the start of Race 2 but De Vos was having none of it; he passed the local man on lap two and held on to the lead until the Gecko Lounge Can-Am suffered a puncture on lap six, forcing him into the pits and handing the race to Donadio, who won by 18 seconds from Hitchcock and Ferdi Mouton in the second Cross Cape Forklift Services Mustang.

Steve Humble (Harp Motorsport/Ravenol Pilbeam MP91) and Dawie Joubert (Rembrandt Racing/Wild Rose Gin Lotus Exige ‘Lotari’) dominated the Le Joubert Sports & GT including Pre-74 ISP Prototypes & Trans-Am races, with Humble narrowly winning both outings, while his Harp Motorsport team-mate Francis Carruthers came home a distant third in the Pilbeam MP84 after arch-rival Gary Kieswetter (Advanced Packaging Technology Porsche GT3 Cup) went out two laps from the flag.

The first of the Pre-74 visitors were Kennet Persson from Sweden in a McLaren M6B, followed by Pretoria’s Mark du Toit in a Lola T70 Spyder, in eighth and ninth overall respectively.

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