This weekend I piloted the Sunday Times/Castrol Ford Mustang in the fifth round of the Midas Historic Tour. Playing out at Zwartkops Raceway, it proved to be one of the most intense bouts of racing the team and I have experienced in a very long time. This is how it went down…
Armed with fresh Bridgestone rubber on all four corners of the car I rolled onto the track behind Pre74 Trans-Am veterans, Willie Hepburn and Mark du Toit. Due to the chilly morning conditions we all took things easy at first and put in a few honest warm-up laps before giving it stick.
When we did the track was surprisingly empty – and full of grip – which allowed me to return some really competitive times. After two flyers I pitted with a 1:11.8 – good enough to put me eighth on the grid and third in the Pre74 Trans-Am class. Perhaps even more satisfying than this was the fact that I had outgunned my newest and fiercest rival – France Scribante in his bright orange Ford Mustang Fastback.
11h20: Heat 1:
The first heat of the day was an absolute cracker. After a perfect rolling start I hit the outside of the hairpin and managed to gain two positions as I tore down the main straight. With the Ford GT40 of Colin Frost now behind me, I put the hammer down and put in a series of low 1:12s for the first couple of laps.
Unfortunately on the fourth lap I out-braked myself going into turn four. This was a costly mistake that saw me lose three positions in quick succession. Now trailing behind the red Mercury Cougar of Richard Pinard, I enjoyed a thrilling five-lap dual with Franco Scribante. Despite my best efforts, and even a little paint-swapping, I couldn’t keep him at bay and he snuck past with just two laps to go. On the final lap I narrowed the gap to about half a second and crossed the line no more than 10-metres behind him. This result saw me finish 12th overall but a very credible fourth overall in the Pre74 Trans-Am class.
15h15: Heat 2:
After starting in twelfth place behind Willie Hepburn, I managed to close in on the battling duo of Scribante and Frost. And for the first four laps I was never more than two seconds behind them. Unfortunately my tyres started to get a little too hot during the fifth lap and I started trailing behind due to reduced traction through some the circuit’s tighter corners
This gave Herman Kluge in his 1973 Porsche 911 RSR a perfect opportunity to home in on my rear bumper. Determined to hold my lead I then did everything in my power to keep him in my rearview mirror. With my tail kicking out through every curve (a lot of spilt oil on the track didn’t help matters), my hard work paid off and I eventually past the checkered flag a second and a half ahead of the charging porker. Just like in the very first heat of the day I finished fourth overall in Pre74 Trans-Am.
Initially I was hoping to get at least one podium finish this weekend but, hey, that’s motor racing for you. In the end the team and I finished fourth overall and enjoyed some awesome battles along the way. Importantly, I brought the car home in one piece and without any incurring any serious damage. Maybe we’ll be luckier at our next outing at Midvaal Raceway on Saturday 1 September. Time will tell…