For a number of years, the South African Formula Vee Association, have closed their racing season with an endurance event. This year, the event was run at the Zwartkops Raceway outside Pretoria, for the first time and attracted a field of twenty five cars and forty nine drivers, including Alf Peelen from Norway, making his eleventh consecutive appearance, in the event. Also out from Norway, was Irishman Tommy Mullin, who lives, works and races in Norway and was making his second appearance in the event, while his boss and sponsor Jonney Hansen, joined him for the trip and was able to arrange a drive as well. The event is also designed to cater for novice drivers but attracts most of the top Vee drivers in the country and this year’s field, included no less than seven South African Formula Vee Champions, with a combined total, of no less than ten Championships between them.
Unfortunately, two cars picked up mechanical problems, on race morning, one being the Mantis of triple South African Formula Vee Champion Gawie Gouws, which he was due to share, with Mullin. Both of them, were however able to arrange alternative drives, Gouws with newcomer Bobby Nel, in the DK Office Furniture Lantis and Mullin, in the Vacuform Rhema of development driver Benny Phetla.
The race produced early drama, when Mike Knight, in the BJ Pro Welding Vision, spun at the high speed Turn Four and was T-boned by Ben Pienaar’s BJ Pro Welding Rhema, which was about to lap the Vision. Pienaar had nowhere to go and slammed into his other car. Both cars were severely damaged and the Safety Car was deployed, while marshals cleared the scene of the accident and Pienaar was transported to the track hospital, by ambulance. X-rays later in the day, revealed that he had broken the heel of his right foot, which will be in a cast for the next six weeks.
Once the Safety Car had been withdrawn, racing resumed and by the half hour mark, the pits were a hive of activity, with the first scheduled refueling stops and driver changes taking place. JP Nortje had already retired his Sting, with an overheating problem and a bit later, the Performers Business Forms Indigo, of Rory and Garth Wilson, succumbed to a similar problem. Then Jannie Wiid spun Jaco Greyling’s Rhema and was not able to get the car restarted, forcing them out of the race and just before the one hour mark, the Eddie Piner, Andre Van Tonder, Tasman retired, with a split oil cooler.
There were further retirements, late in the race, when a trailing arm broke on the Jannie Geyser Senior, Jannie Geyser Junior Vision, with just on sixteen minutes to go and a few minutes later, the Anthony Taylor, Craig Taylor Vacuform Rhema 2, was out as well. Anthony had run off the circuit at Turn One and a hump in the outfield, launched the car into the air. Landing heavily tail first, the rear suspension was too badly damaged and they were out of the race as well, with only nine minutes to go.
The Deon Brummer, Alf Peelen Speedway Models Sting, had been giving plenty of problems and had lost a lot of time in the pits, during the course of the race. The crew were however able to get the car out again and enable Peelen to take the chequered flag, at the end of the race. The Dennis Johns, Jon Whitfield, Jorg Pinto Goldco Midas Rhema 2, had also lost a number of laps in the pits, after the gear linkage had broken and had to be removed, repaired and reassembled, before the car was able to rejoin. They did however have the consolation, of setting the fastest lap of the race.
After two grueling hours of racing, victory went to the Lafarge Readymix Rhema 2, of Wayne Bennett and Francois Herbst, with 89 laps completed. They were followed home, by the Jaco Schriks, Alan Holm, Johannesburg Bright Steels Sting, Jody Robertson and Gordon Connelly, PS23 Lubrioil Rhema, Alan and Peter Kernick, Tasman, Peter Hills and Mick Ooshuisen, Vacuform Rhema, Lee Thompson, Geoff Tugwell and Mark Du Toit, Rhema, David Veringa and Jonney Hansen, Vision, Bobby Nel and Gawie Gouws, DK Office Furniture Lantis, Kevin and Claude Cartmell, Rand Brake Sting, James Leach and Ulrich Fischer, Rand Brake Sting and the John Lerm and Rion Lerm, Peter Hills Auto Clinic Sting. Not running but with 77 laps completed, the Anthony Taylor, Craig Taylor Vacuform Rhema 2, took twelfth place, ahead of the Dayview Mogane, Hugo Wallendorf Alley, the Benny Phetla, Tommy Mullin Vacuform Rhema, the Jannie Geyser Snr, Jannie Geyser Jnr Vision and the Dennis Johns, Jon Whitfield, Jorg Pinto Goldco Midas Rhema 2.