Small Sports & GT grid delivers top racing

Saturday’s WP Crossley & Webb Sports & GT races may have attracted a sparse grid to Killarney for a number of reasons, but that did not detract from a fine day’s racing from the Cape’s fastest racing class as frontrunners Dawie Joubert’s Lotus-Honda and Marcel Angel’s Ferrari 458 tussled for the lead ahead of several entertaining battles through the field.

Craig Harper’s newly re-engined Harper-Alfa Romeo V6 was not yet race ready, Craig Jarvis’ Viper was still being repaired following being damaged at the last meeting — he had entered his Ferrari, but withdrew before race day, Andre Bezuidenhout withdrew due to business commitments and Sandro Biccari and Peter van der Spuy were overseas and Class D leader Arno Church’s Seven was still under repair following its spectacular engine failure last time out. 

Then Louis de Jager (Lola Toyota) discovered an oil leak on his Lola-Toyota, Gavin Gorman had a problem with his Nardini’s water pump, Dawie Joubert’s Lotus shed much of its body work and Martin Pugh (Shelby CanAm) had brake and handling issues on his Shelby CanAm in practice. Louis, Dawie and Martin however worked hard overnight to get their cars to the  grid on Saturday morning.

Through all the drama, Marcel Angel put his Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458 GT3 on pole position at an impressive time of 1:10.980 ahead of fellow Class A runners Johan Engelbrecht (Jogajoga Café Porsche GT2R), Francis Carruthers (Aquila) and Colin Plit (Motul Honda Juno), with Dawie Joubert’s Le Joubert Lotus-Honda at the back of the class in fifth after not setting a time in qualifying.

Angel raced into an early lead off the start of the first race, but Carruthers had a spin out on Turn 1 on the opening lap to drop the Aquila-Chevrolet V8 down to the back of the field. “I lost all my tyre temperature when we were slowed to a crawl behind the pace car,” Francis explained. “We’re not sure what was going on but I sincerely hope it does not happen again.”

Dawie Joubert had no such problems — starting fifth, he soon dealt with Plit’s Juno and Engelbrecht in the Porsche and then set off after Angel’s Ferrari before moving into the lead for the first time on the second lap. The Lotus and the Ferrari then delivered a magnificent battle up front before Angel finally moved ahead on lap 7, where he stayed to take the win from Joubert, Engelbrecht and Plit, while Carruthers fought back through the field to end up 9th overall.

Class B proved a runaway victory for Gary Kieswetter and his Porsche GT3 RS, who left Nick Cunningham-Moorat’s Nissan GTR R35 to tussle with Matt Kreeve’s Porsche 911 GT3. Kreeve eventually took charge on lap 4, from where he led the chase to the flag, leaving the Nissan to fight Andre Brink’s Porsche 997 GT3 Cup off by just 0.6 seconds at the finish.  

Martin Pugh initially led the Class C fight with Louis de Jager’s Lola fighting off Paul Schwartz’ GT 40. Schwartz got the better of de Jager on lap 6 and then passed past Maarten Prins’s Porsche on lap 8, when the Prins Porsche seemed to slow. Then de Jager’s Lola car lost its clutch to retire and Pugh’s Shelby stopped with brake problem, leaving Prins to fight back to beat Class D winner Schwarts to the line by just 0.5 seconds, with Ray Farnham’s Birkin-Opel ending up second in Class D.

The second race started with rain threatening and Carruthers, Pugh, de Jager and Farnham unable to make the start following their respective first race dramas. Dawie Joubert sat on pole in the Lotus thanks to his fastest first race lap, alongside Angel’s Ferrari, with that duo immediately settling into another entertaining tussle up front, with the Ferrari snapping at the Lotus’ heels throughout to end up a second adrift at the flag. Engelbrecht in his Porsche and Plit (Juno) kept a watching brief.

Kieswetter once again led Class B from start to finish, but Brink, Kreeve and Cunningham-Moorat were at it again behind him as they put on a wonderful display, changing places until Kreeve’s Porsche suffered a mechanical problem to retire after and the Nissan also developed a problem to retire after 8 Laps. All that left Maarten Prins to come home seventh - the only class C car in the race.              

Marcel Angel took overall honours on the day with his Ferrari, with Dawie Joubert’s Lotus second from Engelbrecht’s Porsche third. Kieswetter was the undisputed Class B winner to consolidate his 107-point overall championship lead over Nick Cunningham-Moorat (95) and the absent Arno Church and Colin Plit tied in third on 89 points apiece. Maarten Prins took Class C for the day to move to fourth in the title chase on 69 points, with Paul Schwartz taking the Class D trophy for the day.     
The Crossley & Webb Sports & GT field honoured regular competitor Mike Beachy-Head with a Lap of Honour at lunchtime. A popular figure in the series, Beachy-Head passed away unexpectedly on 21 May. “We will all miss Mike,” Crossley & Webb’s Gareth Crossley admitted. “Mike was well accepted and appreciated by drivers and fans alike.”  

The Crossley & Webb Sports & GTs return to Killarney Power Tour action Saturday 1 July. See you there!