The 18th Passion for Speed international race meeting at Killarney International Raceway, sponsored for the first time this year by G-Energy, was a roaring success in every sense of the word.
The huge crowd at the circuit’s first major event of the 2019 season was treated to ultra-close racing, heart-stopping drama, and a feast of magnificent machinery both old and new, accompanied by a superb soundtrack of deep-chested American V8 rumbling and high-revving Italian exotica, on an (almost) perfect Cape summer’s day.
The Fan Walk during the lunch break was one of the most successful yet as spectators thronged the KFM Straight to get up close and personal with the Extreme Supercars and big V8’s, as well as their drivers.
But the leader of the pack, in more ways than one, was Charl Arangies’ Stradale Motorsport Aston Martin V12, resplendent in new blue livery, and a firm favourite with the fans. Arangies put the car on pole for the G&H Extreme Supercar races with a screaming 1min 09.484 qualifying lap, almost a second quicker than Franco Scribante’s 3.8-litre Porsche 997 Turbo – a car so highly tuned that his pit crew had to throw blocks of ‘dry ice’ (frozen carbon dioxide) into the radiator air intakes to keep the engine from overheating on the grid.
Race 1 was a lot closer, however, as Scribante chased the Blue Beast all the way to the line, posting the fastest time of the race (1min 10.919) on the last lap as he closed in to finish just 0.743sec adrift. Third was local hero Marcel Angel in the Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458.
Race 2 ended in the closest finish of the day after Scribante got a superb start and led every lap except the last one. Arangies showed him a wheel more than once and finally made a successful pass in the very last corner, posting a 1min 10.499 final lap to win by just 0.077sec, with Angel a lonely third.
Race 3 was split by red flags after Faizel Coetzee put his BMW M3 into the Wall halfway between the Kink and Rose Foundation corner, hard enough to destroy the car, leaving it and a field of debris in the middle of the track.
Coetzee walked away unhurt but it took a while to clear the circuit, during which time Scribante (who was leading at the time) was disqualified for a procedural error. When racing resumed Arangies romped away to win by more than 10 seconds from Angel with Craig Jarvis (Panacea Ferrari F430) third.
Former Formula 1 Powerboat world champion Peter Lindenberg (Shelby Mustang) and Jonathan du Toit (Chevy Nova) dominated both Pre-66 Legends of the 9-Hour and Little Giants races, putting up two superb dices that ended 0.360sec and 0.661sec apart respectively, with Lindenberg (just) ahead in both cases.
Genial Dutch driver Michiel Campagnie finished third in both races in an enormous 427 cubic inch-powered Ford Galaxie, with Trevor Tuck the first of the Little Giants and fifth overall in his Alfa Giulia.
The locally based Midas Clubmans category was responsible for the biggest entry (42 cars) the fiercest racing and the biggest crash of the day, a dramatic multiple pile-up in Malmesbury Sweep on the last lap of Race 1 that left Johan Pretorius’ VW Polo on its side after flying across the circuit and nearly landing on top of Mansoor Parker’s BMW.
The results were taken as at the end of lap seven, with Niyaaz Modack’s new three-litre Audi S4 ahead of Michael le Sueur’s 1.8-litre VW Golf and Clint Renaard’s two-litre Golf.
Race 2 was less destructive but just as hard-fought, with Modack leading home Danie van Niekerk’s Wingfield Motors BMW, ahead of Rennard and Le Sueuer- who was less than four seconds behind the leader.
Both Pre-74 Sports Prototype and Trans-Am races went down to the wire – the first after the lead changed no less than seven times in 10 laps – but the eventual winner in each case was local driver Steve Humble’s Opel-powered Harp Motorsport Mallock 14B, followed in Race 1 by Mark du Toit from Zwartkops in a Daytona (essentially a Cobra with a roof) and Rui Campos’s 3.8-litre Porsche 911 RSR. Humble took the lead on lap five of Race 2 and held on to win from Peter van der Spuy (3.8-litre Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo) and Du Toit.
The 30-minute South African TT series race for Pre-66 Le Mans and Pre-68 Sebring Sports and GT cars turned out to be a big disappointment for the Lindenberg family as the 5.8-litre Daytona Paige and her father Peter were to share expired right in front of the pits after just three laps.
The race then became an epic battle between the Ford GT40s of Swedish visitors Kennet Persson and Jan Kling, and Michiel Campagnie in a Chev Corvette. Given that the ‘Vette is based on a street car and the GT40 was designed specifically to win at Le Mans, Campagnie did well to split the two Fords until the classic GM coupé failed on lap 18.
Kling also dropped back in the closing stages, coming home third behind Persson and Mark du Toit (Lola T70 Spider), although all three finished on the same lap.
Franco Donadio in his Cosworth-powered Ford Escort MK1 and veteran Wankel engine tuner Dave Kopke (Mazda R100) were the stars of another superb tussle in Race 1 of the Millstock Pre-1980 and Pre-1990 Invitation Cars. Donadio ran out the eventual winner by just 0.337sec, with Robin Forbes’ 5.7-litre V8 Stingray third.
Sadly, the Kopke rotary didn’t come out for Race 2; Mark Uytenbogaart and his Ford Mustang set the pace until the Pony Car went lame on lap six. Donadio then got into it with Richard Quixley (Datsun 240Z), who also led for two laps before dropping down to third on the final lap behind Donadio and Eric van der Merwe (Porsche 944 Turbo).
There was more V8 thunder in the Masters and Makita Supercars races, where Fabio Tafani and Richard Schreuder set the pace in Race 1, finishing less than a second apart with Mark Ridgway third.
Ridgway then moved up after running second for the first half of Race 2, to grab the lead from Tafani on lap five – only for the race to be red-flagged on lap seven, handing the win to Ridgway from Tafani, Paolo Cavalieri and Rob Warrington, while Ryan and Steve McCarthy pulled off a superb 1-2 in the Makita Supercar category in each race.
The Historic Single Seaters reminded fans and drivers alike how brave racing drivers had to be in the bad old days – the 1930s MG Specials not only didn’t have roll bars, they didn’t have seatbelts either! Victory, however, went to British driver Richard Smeeton in a Foglieti F1, followed home in Race 1 by Des Hillary in a Dulon and Pat Dunseth in a Merlyn Mk25 – and in Race 2 by Dunseth and Hillary.
(supplied by Killarney International Raceway)