Flag-to-flag hardly describes the measured intensity with which Franco Scribante Racing set about winning the Dezzi 500 4-Hour endurance race at Dezzi Raceway, Oslo Beach at the weekend – coming home a full eight laps ahead of their nearest rivals.
Franco and Silvio Scribante, sharing the driving duties in their 1972 Chevron B26 powered by twin Suzuki Hyabusa engines completed 178 laps at an average speed of 111 km/h to build that eight lap margin to the second placed Backdraft Roadster from SK Racing (Stiaan Kriel, Robyn Kriel, Kosie Weyers) who were one lap ahead of the Auto Investment Honda of Riaan Botma and James Forbes.
The Scribantes dominated the qualifying session to start from pole position and immediately set about opening up a gap – despite the efforts of Mike McLoughlin in the mighty turbo-powered Backdraft Roadster he was sharing with JP Bredenhahn.
McLoughline keept up the pressure even though the gap was stretching and then suddenly slowed, the car eventually getting back to the pits where a driveline problem was diagnosed that ultimately needed a long stop to change the rear differential.
At the end of the first 25 laps the Scribantes were a lap to the good, now being chased by Team Perfect Circle in the form of Saul Hack/Andre Bezuidenhout in their Volkswagen SupaCup Golf with Botma in third and ahead of the SK Racing car. Wright Motorsport (Phillip Meyer/Dean Wolson/Gerald Wright) in the Opel-powered Sports 2000 were fifth ahead of Jade Gutzeit and Willie Hepburn (Backdraft Roadster).
As the race settled into rythmn, the next 25 laps saw the Scribantes open up the lead to two laps over Team Perfect Circle with the Gutzeit/Hepburn car now easing into third place ahead of SK Racing.
Poking their noses into the results at this point were Team Flatout (Backdraft Roadster) consisting of Christopher and Michael Radloff with Owen Bridger. They were in fith place, with early pit stops for fuel and tyres allowing the Black Art Racing Roadster of Clare Vale and Sean o’Farrell to occupy sixth place.
Against the thunderous roar from the Lexus V8 engines that power all the Backdraft Roadsters, the almost Ninja-quiet of the Suzuki engines in the Chevron added another level of menace as it carved its way through the field, lapping other competitors.
As with any endurance race there are a couple of elements at play – the race for the outright win, the chase for a class victory and the Index of Performance, which is a formula derived from practice times and seeks to find the car (irrespective of class) that can match its target lap time the most consistently over the whole race.
By lap 75 with the Chevron now five laps to the good, the Auto Investment Honda had moved up into second place overall and leader of Class S with Team Perfect Circle third and heading Class B. SK Racing was fourth and in front in Class E with the pit stop reshuffling bringing the Xena Chemicals Nash of Andrew Horne/Gerald Buys into play in firth and leaders in Class V.
Over the full race time there were a few Safety Car periods that bunched up the field and had pit crews quickly restrategising pit stops and changes but none of this stopped the progress of the Chevron that moved six laps into the lead by Lap 100 where Team Perfect Circle hung onto second place from SK Racing with Team Dutchmann, a Nash driven by Gavin Rooke and Peter Schmidt-Loffler now in fourth ahead of Bothma.
This, perhaps was the settling point of the race and, except for some shifts in the middle of the field, the front three remained unchanged through to the finish.
What did change when the chequered flag came out after 178 laps was the steady progress of the AMC Ligier 49 of Romano Sartori and Franco di Matteo paid dividends to earn them fourth place overall ahead of Andrew Horne and Gerald Buys in the Xena Chemicals Nash.
Team Dutchmann finished in sixth place overall ahead of the Team Pesty Racing Backdraft Roadster (Harm Pretorius/Barend Pretorius/Eduan Bester), the Gutzeit/Hepburn Backdraft Roadster, Team Flatout and Wright Motor sport’s Backdraft Roadster (Bryan Morgan/Donovan Taylor).
GT5SA Backdraft Roadster Trevor Graham/Brian Martin
S Chevron Franco/Silvio Scribante
V Backdraft Roadster Andrew Horne/Gerald Buys
A VW Golf Mk1 Pierre-Richard Porgieter/Ronald van Rensburg/Daniel Wexler/Dane Thompson
B VW SupaCup Saul Hack/Andre Bezuidenhout
C Ford Falcon Oliver Broome/David Hoal
D Backdraft Roadster Shane Gutzeit/Willie Hepburn
E Backdraft Roadster Stiaan & Robyn Kriel/Kosie Weyers
Index of Performance
SK Racing 93,14%
Xena Chemicals 92,39%