With championships almost on the line it was bound to be an exciting race weekend in Round 7 at RedStar Raceway.
What was quickly apparent is that RedStar is a track that you either love or hate – or, as Peter Ross (Alfa Romeo #165), a competitor in the Pre80 Saloons puts it, it’s a track that you start off hating in day one, have come to terms with by day two, and by the end of the race weekend you just want to come back.
Most competitors agree that it’s a competitive track – you don’t know what’s going on or what’s coming next, there are no defining markers, and with the direction of the track switching every six months even when you think you know the track, you generally need to re-learn it. Not everyone agrees which direction they prefer either – depending on who you’re speaking to at the time, clockwise and anti-clockwise are both faster.
Spectacular spectating and dicing
In the Pre80 Saloons, it wasn’t only in the D class and the Sports and GT class that competition was high. Harry Lombard and Jan Jacobs spent both races within meters of each other. Jan took the overall class G win for the day, despite his car threatening to overheat, although pushing her through both races is going to require some fixing and spend – but then, when does racing not require both?
Harm Beens SR, who was leading class G after qualifiers with a personal best time on the track, was unfortunately out after the first race. Both Harm Beens Snr and Harm Beens Jr, who races the Pursuit Series, had a fantastic day up until that point.
“This was my best race ever,” Harm Jnr told me, after he not only kept up with the fastest cars in the track, but finished in the thick of them. Unfortunately, the Ford Escort had other plans, and father and son decided not to risk her engine in their respective second races of the day.
As always, the Sports & GTs and front-runners of class D, Johann Smith (SPS Mazda Capella), Jannie van Rooyen (Scirocco) and Alan Green (Meissner Escort) battled it out up front for pole position.
Dicing with Johann and Jannie in the first race, Richard de Roos (Porsche 911 RSR) knew he needed to keep his nerve in the 2nd race and get past the Mazda and the Scirocco in the first corner if he wanted a win.
“Johann is incredibly good on this track and I knew that if I didn’t get in front of him in the first corner, I’d have a repeat of the first race. I’d never get past him,” Richard told me with a big grin after the race.
Richard crossed the chequered flag first, with Johann and Jannie giving spectators a great show, Jannie finally pipping Johan to second place, although with a flat tyre Johan had some steering issues.
Jannie was racing without a left fender after a dust-up in the first race when he rear-ended Djurk Venter’s Escort after overtaking Fred Konig’s orange Porsche.
“I apologized to Djurk and asked the COC if I could still compete in the second race without my fender – he agreed as long as I don’t bump into anyone else,” Jannie told me, happy to still be able to get out onto the track for race 2.
As everyone watching the race could see though, minus one fender certainly didn’t put a dent in Jannie’s competitive spirit, as he kept the pressure on Johann throughout the race.
Fred Konig and Alan Green had a near miss as well, treating spectators to a ‘kiss’ in corner 4. Alan spun out due to an unknown engine complication, and Fred was able to brake just in time to avoid a head-on collision. The two cars met fender to fender before Fred got past and Green limped off the track.
Another stand-out dicing moment was in the Pursuits between Althea Pretorius (Porsche 944) and brother Henk de Klerk (Honda Civic). For two laps Althea managed to keep Henk at bay, and then, when he did manage to get past her, she pipped him in the final corner to cross the finish line before him.
Henk says his sister is officially faster than he is – and I can quote him on that – but that he’s also thinking it may be time for a new car.
As in every race, the list of casualties grew steadily as the race day progressed.
Brad Schafer (Porsche 944) had heating issues throughout the day and was careful not to blow his motor in his third race as a new entrant to the Pursuit series.
Also in the Pursuits, Richard Tudor-Owens lost his top radiator hose in the 2nd race, Rob Clark’s Citroen CX overheated in the first Pursuit race and William Kelly lost brakes in race one, followed by a huge bang that was either (60% possibility his clutch, 30% his gearbox, or 10% his diff – all the result of 110% hard driving according to William).
Before his engine troubles in race two, D-class competitor Alan Green had to take his Escort home after Friday’s practice sessions to fix a leaking welsh plug. And there were added complications too. “I broke a steering compression strut at Swartkops. We made some changes and the changes were wrong,” he laughed. Not an ideal handling situation on a track with 13 corners.
Daniel Lotter (Ford Escort Mk1) missed most of his qualifying race because as he started driving out to the track he heard a noise and realized a spacer had been left off after a diff repair. He managed to fix it, get onto the track, do one lap and a spark plug cable came off. Luckily both races went smoothly.
By the time the endurance race started at 4.30pm, only one historic saloon of the eight entries was still standing and able to compete, Hubi von Moltke’s Mercedes Benz 280E.
As Pursuit racer Werner Hartzenberg says though, racing is all to do with luck, and on the day, some are luckier than others. It’s luck of the draw who you catch where on the track, and what does or doesn’t break.
Gearing for 16 November and the HRSA versus Midvaal Historics inter club challenge.
Overall it was a great weekend. A few Pursuit racers broke out, including Michelle Smith, Kola de Klerk, Althea Pretorius, Dennis McBeath and brothers Bert and Rob van Aarle.
Bert, whose 4-year-old grandson was watching the race, was pushing his Lotus hard to give his grandson a show. As the day progressed and everyone became more familiar with the track however, times got quicker and quicker, with Kola hitting a 2.17 to break out.
Sean Hepburn, who races the Pre80s Saloons in his Datsun and is leading Class F, won the Pursuits overall as well – his first time competing in the class.
With the Pre80s racing finishing by 1pm, Sean wanted more time on the track as the racing season draws to a close.
Everyone was complimentary about the facilities and over-all professionalism of the track, and are looking forward to the final race of the season back at RedStar on the 16th of November, which will include the first ever HRSA versus Midvaal Historics inter club challenge.