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Mopar African Endurance Series – African champions fend off Brazilians

Francis Carruthers and Johan Engelbrecht finally drove their pace-setting Harp Motorsport Malta No. 1 Juno SS3 to a 2016 race victory when the Cape Town duo took overall honours in the Mopar African Endurance Border Three Hour at the classic East London Grand Prix circuit on Saturday, but not without first having to fight off the impressive GT class winning Brazilian duo Jao Paulo Mauro and Rodrigo Mello aboard a Big Foot Express Porsche 991 Cup.

The Juno’s quicker mid-distance pitstop to take on fuel and for Carruthers to take the car over from Engelbrecht however made the difference in the end, but Mauro had made Engelbrecht’s life quite difficult in the first half, fighting back to dice with the Juno after Engelbrecht had opened a ten-second lead early in the race. But the Juno had a far stronger second stint to ultimately take overall honours a lap ahead of the Class V-winning Brazilian Porsche.

Nick Adcock and Simon Murray’s Rico Barlow Racing/Aid Call 24/7 Ligier JS49 failed in its attempts to make it a hat trick of wins at the third round of the championship when they were forced to stop to change a flat tyre early in the third hour. Then they picked up a pit lane speeding penalty heading back out on track, which caused the Ligier to visit the pit lane again to serve a penalty for that, all of which spoiled the duo’s efforts to wrest overall victory through an alternate pit strategy. Adcock and Murray however finished third overall and took Class S honours, a further lap behind the winners.

Michael Jensen and Mark Lauth drove their Fantastic Racing Shelby home in fourth overall to take Class P honours six laps down, ahead of Sun Moodley and Andrew Culbert in the other Big Foot Express Porsche, while sixth place was an incredible result for Adrian Dalton and Wayne Labotsky who drove their giant-killing Xtra Shoes Volkswagen Golf 1 home first among the tin-tops ahead of Maritzburg brothers Steve and Wayne Truter’s Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3.

Hennie Trollip and Formula Ford hero Dave Sinclair were next up in the Team Lessons Lotus 7, which benefited from Mike Altona and Steve Pickering suffering late issues in the Classic Motorsport Porsche 910, while Doug MacDonald and Ryan Buda closed off the top ten and Schulz/Haggerman and MacLeod/Letnick’s Lotus Sevens were the last classified finishers.

The tin-top field suffered the early retirement of the van Vuuren/Scorer Mopar Alfa Romeo GT and Schmidt/Avern-Taplin’s Frankies Toyota Corolla before the Brummer/Williams Golf and locals Marais/Miller’s Polo dropped out. The Salomon/Thorn’s Elf and four of the six Shelbys entered also failed to make the distance to sit among the ten non-finishers.

The race was run in ideal conditions on the popular Grand Prix circuit. The Mopar African Endurance Series now heads to Gauteng for the Zwartkops 3-hour 2-3 September.