Pursuit Challenge – Redstar Raceway for the 3rd round of the Historic Inland Tour.

Article by Adrian van Niekerk (Inspired by Stuart Konig)

15 June early morning at Redstar Raceway, It’s race day. Freezing cold, you can feel the excitement in the air. With six Pursuit entries for the day, Michiel Oberholzer in his 1982 Mercedes Benz had to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances. Now left with five contenders on the grid, with the likes of Jannie van Rooyen in his Pro Auto Rubber VW Scirocco joining Pursuit for the first time this season.

In qualifying Gary Stacey in his Coastal Hire Westrand Ford Sierra XR8 kept the crowd entertained, pushing that V8 to its limits with some hard braking going into the corners. With a few laps in it seems that qualifying will be without any incidents. But on turn three Stewart Mc Clarthy in his 1981 Ford Escort XR3 left the rest of the field in a cloud of smoke, with a dislocated driveshaft. Bringing his qualifying to a disappointing end.

With the help of fellow racers and some gearbox oil, Mc Clarthy was able to get the Escort back on the track.  

Heading into Race 1, first off was Hedley Whitehead in his Mini Austin Cooper S followed by Rob van Aarle in his well-known light blue Ace Auto Salvage Ford Escort MK1, with just 1 second between the two competitors. Van Aarle had a great start and got in front of Whitehead before turn one.  Mc Clarthy started 3rd after a disappointing qualifying followed by van Rooyen’s Scirocco. Championship leader Gary Stacey started his race over 2 minutes after the leaders.

Stacey used every inch of the track, trying to get closer to the race leader. But just did not have the pace to catch van Aarle who crossed the line first taking the checkered flag. Stewart crossed the finish line in 3rd followed by van Rooyen and Whitehead respectively.

Even with the stressful morning for Mc Clarthy, he scored top point in Race 1. Van Rooyen grabbed second place followed by Whitehead.  Unfortunately, the two front runners in Race 1, van Aarle and Stacey broke out from their qualifying times, leaving them out of the points.

Race 2 promised to bring more action with Whitehead in front, and Stacey at the back op the field with that V8 motor ready to make ease of the demanding Redstar corners. Van Aarle hoping to end up in the points following a breakout in the first heat, soon started gaining ground on Whitehead although he started with a 17 second delay. On lap 4 van Aarle was all over the backend of Whitehead’s mini. With an attempted pass van Aarle ran out of the black stuff and end up spinning, losing ground on Whitehead.

Bad luck struck when Whitehead’s Mini developed a left front hub issue, resulting in a retirement. With his fingers crossed Mc Clarthy managed to keep the XR3 going to finish in second. Van Rooyen had another well executed run crossing the line in 3rd place. Van Aarle battled to make up the ground from his spin out and managed 4th place. But it was Stacey in the XR8 that managed to take the checkered flag for the 2nd heat hoping to salvage some needed points to stay ahead in the Championship.

Whitehead manages to take the win in the Historic fines category, even after his retirement in Race 2 followed by van Aarle in second. Mc Clarthy takes the win in the Historic Modified category but manages the top step on the podium for the day. Van Rooyen on his maiden run follows in second. Stacey only managed 3rd overall.

After round 3 Gary Stacey with his XR8 is still on top of the leader board, followed by Hedley Whitehead in his Austin Cooper S. Stewart Mc Clarthy in 4th. Rob van Aarle manage to move from 14th to 6th place with Jannie van Rooyen the next runner up in 7th.

Looking forward to the next round of Pursuit Challenge at Zwartkop raceway in August, with a bigger field and more thrilling action.