An historic rivalry resumes

It’s Protea vs. Marauder in Zwartkops Pursuit

This weekend sees Historic Racing return to Zwartkops. Not only will the scratch racers be at it hammer and tongs as usual in pursuit of Willie Hepburn in the Universal Healthcare Pre-80 Saloons and Sports & GT races, but there’s also an intriguing and quite unique South African dice to add to the already intriguing Charlie’s SuperSpar Pursuit series action.
Some may say that the Charlies Pursuit series is ‘wrong way round’ racing. That’s an apt description. See Pursuit racing runs to handicap, with each car starting the race at a time based on how long it will take that car and driver to finish the race. Which theoretically means that all of them should arrive at the finish line together!
Theory is of course perfect, but reality sees a significant amount of overtaking throughout the race. Never mind that the dicing becomes ever fiercer as the laps reel off toward the chequered flag. All huge fun between some truly special cars, of which two of them will be of particular interest this weekend…
South Africa has a world class motor industry churning out hundreds of thousands of cars a year for export and local use. But there are no SA car brands to speak of. There were however a few through the 1950s through to the ’seventies, most of which were race bred machines. The GSM Dart from Cape Town is famous, but there were several others, including the ‘50s Proteas and the ‘80s Marauders . 
The John Myers designed Protea was built in Johannesburg by GRP Engineering in the late ‘50s. Some say 14 were built, others reckon 26. Peter Meffan designed the Marauder — it was also built in Johannesburg by Matador and 135 of them were sold from the little shop off Louis Botha Avenue.
A Marauder and a Protea racing together will be a highlight of this weekend’s Charlies Pursuit races. Derek Hattingh has dusted his Protea Ford off and will square up against Willem van Niekerk’s unique Marauder on Saturday. Also of Pursuit interest are two tight title battles. 20 points split Frans Venter’s Datsun 280 ZX, Rob Clark keeling Citroen GS 1220 Club and Wynand du Plessis Sr’s Porsche 944 in the street car Fine chase. 
Just ten points separate Werner Hartzenberg’s Porsche 928 and Kola de Klerk’s Nissan 300 ZX in the racecar Trophy class. Add Riaan Roux’ Scirocco, Clive Winterstein, Tihan van Rooyen and Tim Abbot’s Porsches, Gary Stacey’s XR6, Sean Hepburn’s and Devon Martin’s Datsun 1200s,  and Henk de Klerk’s Starion. MG men William Kelly and Rikus Botha and Rob van Aarle’s Escort also make a racing return on Saturday.
The lights to flag Universal Healthcare Pre-81 Saloon and Pre-81 Sports and GT sprint races will likely be mostly about stopping Willie Hepburn and the Opel Rekord V8 he once won 1980s national races in, from thundering off into the distance. Richard de Roos, George Avvakoumides and Rui Campos’ Porsche 911 RSRs will be among those trying to prevent that.
Rest assured of close racing among the saloon cars. Class C VW Scirocco men Stuart Konig and Jannie van Rooyen and Johann Smith’s rasping Mazda Capella rotary always entertain in Class C. Marius Verwey’s similarly wailing Mazda R100 rotary will fight it out with Alan Green’s ex-Star Modified Ford Escort, Devin Robertson’s Datsun 1600 SSS and Andre ten Napel in his Scirocco in Class D.
Rene van Rensburg’s Ford Escort, the Marco Verwey and Tony Lundin Datsuns, Riaan Roux’s Scirocco and Neil Lobb in a Fiat 131 will race in Class E and Sean Hepburn’s Datsun 1200 Deluxe and Jaco Roux’s Scirocco will dice for the Class F trophies. Riaan de Ru’s Ford Prefect, Andre Dannhauser’s Toyota SR5 and Jan Jacobs’ Alfa Romeo GT Junior will  battle for brat pack honours in Class G.
With lockdown regulations still in force, no spectators are allowed at Zwartkops on Saturday.