Round 1 of the Club Championships kicked off on Sat, 17 Feb, at a rain-soaked East London Grand Prix circuit. With sponsorship towards Round 1 of the Historic races from Country Range, and Supa-Value Foods, 16 Historic competitors lined up to qualify on a very wet track. Big slick tyres and powerful V8 engines normally proves to be at a disadvantage on wet track surfaces, and the table was set for an interesting day of racing, between the powerful V8’s and the more nimble, lighter, 4-cylinder cars. The first scare of the day went to Matthew Gudmanz, when the accelerator on his Mazda Capella Rotary stuck open in the Complex, which led to a spin in Coxes Corner. With Yellow flags out at the Complex, flying laps were limited, and the reigning Border Historic Champion, Wayne Tiny Botha, in his Escort Mk1 2L, fired the first warning shots, by putting his Escort on pole position. He was closely followed by Christopher Radloff in his Toyota coupe, with Danian Staffen in his newly build Ford Capri V8 in third.
Heat 1 was concluded on a wet surface, with Darron Gudmanz in his Willie Hepburn built Capri Perana , showing his class as a driver, and taking an easy win. Behind him, Danian Staffen was getting more comfortable in his V8 Capri, and really picked up the pace in rounds 5 and 6, to record a Personal Best of 1:36.7 in lap 5. Wayne Tiny Botha followed in 3rd, only 6 seconds behind Staffen.
Heat 2 started in almost dry conditions, and the drivers picked up the pace up to lap 3, when the rain started coming down again. Staffen took the lead in lap 2, to hold on for the win, while the Gudmanz Perana slowed with mechanical issues, but still managed to held on to 2nd place. Once again Botha finished in third.
Track conditions realy worsened in Heat 3, with the rain coming down harder and harder with each lap. Botha put in a sterling drive, to take the win in his Escort. Behind him Matthew Gudmanz also put in an excellent effort to take second in the Gudmanz Racing Capella, with his dad, Darron, riding shotgun behind him, doing some driver observation and evaluation, while taking 3rd.
Behind the fornt runners, and figthing for 4th place overall, Quentin Nicholas Lessing in his 1964 Anglia found himself locked in battle with Derek John Boy’s V8 Chevy Canam, and Alec Gudmanz’ Capri V8. It was a spectacular dual to watch with the nimble Anglia having the upper hand through the tighter bends through the Complex. The Canam of Boy was sliding and snaking out of the corners, with the driver working overtime to get the short-wheel base car on the circuit. Alec Gudmanz also did a stirling job to keep his V8 powered Capri on the circuit, to finish in 6th.
Making their debut’s on the day, was Carl Fantham, whose swopped his Mk1 Cortina, for the ex-Brendan Smith Dunlop championship winning Mk2 2L Escort, Danian Staffen in his V8 Capri, and Quintin Bates in his first full season of Historic racing in the Team Smugglers Mini.
Modified Saloons: A very good turn out of entries in this category saw a wonderful race in Heat one led by Gary Marais in the Harp sports car chased for all 8 laps by Frank Coetzer and Thys Geyser. Conditions were at this stage, “damp” and thus high levels of skill and car control were needed by all drivers. Richard Clarke making his debut in his very quick Hondat 2 litre Type R put up a very good performance chasing the leaders all the way until an incident of sideways “drifting” slowed Riachar vd down to enable him to end heat one in 7th slot.
Impressive was young Ashton Nell in her Golf 1 2.0 litre 8 Valve who demonstrated her amazing skill by finishing ahead of some much more potent cars. Her karting skills standing her in good stead.
Craig Borges (also ex karting ) put in an excellent performance in his Opel Cub 2.0 litre by finishing an excellent 8th overall in Heat 1. Shaun Gradwell in the BMW in his first outing in this category also showing excellent car control finishing in 5th place .
Heat 2 of the modifieds saw a lot more rain falling right from the get-go and this produced a very eventful race with some very spectacular spoins and slides thrilling the spectators. Once again Gary Maris set the pace and managed to fend off both Richard Clarke and Bevan Schwartz. A very wet and slippery track brings out the best in every driver and pretty much neutralises the power of the cars as traction and skill become the main requirements for good results.Shaun Gradwell and Quentin Lessing performed excellently in the rain ending 4th and 5th in heat 2 demonstrating supreme car control as they chased down the much more powerful cars ahead.
The OPEN TOP series was equally exciting with Troy Marais in his Lotus 7 winning heat 1 closely followed by Gary Marais , just 0,085 seconds behind Troy after 8 laps. Heat 2 was equally tense with much heavier rain creating conditions which most of us would rather avoid . However Gary Marais and Troy Marais were at it again with Try chasing hard behind Gary until he performed a spectacular spin as he exited the sweep on Lap 5 and then had to push even harder to make up the deficit ending 21 seconds behind Gary, but he pushed extremely hard in the last 3 laps.
All in all, a good start to the season, with lots explaning and stories to tell at the prize giving function afterwards.
Round 2 of the BMSC championships will be back at the ELGP circuit on April, 7.