Simon Murray is the 2016 Mopar African Endurance champion following a strong second place alongside Nick Adcock in the Rico Barlow Racing/Aid Call 24/7 Ligier JS49 and a race-long tussle with race winning Ecurie Zoo Vos brothers, Duncan and Graham’s Juno in a dramatic Three Hours of the Eastern Cape at Aldo Scribante in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The two cars had battled hard throughout a dramatic race, which was red-flagged just after mid distance after Doug MacDonald’s Shelby made contact with the pit entrance tyre wall, blocking the track after something appeared to break on the car. MacDonald escaped unhurt and the track was soon cleared allowing racing to resume as the two leaders swapped places several times as they raced into the darkness. Less than a lap separated the race winning Vos Juno from the title-clinching Ligier in the end.
Murray’s title chances were elevated after championship rivals Francis Carruthers and Johan Engelbrecht’s Harp Motorsport Malta No. 1 Juno SS3 also retired at mid-distance, allowing its rival Cape Town Ligier team to follow the Zoo Lake, Johannesburg Juno’s Murray home to clinch the title and move co-driver Adcock up into second in the championship chase, ahead of Carruthers and Engelbrecht.
Mike Verrier and Wayne Jardine ended up third in their Aid Call 24/7 Shelby-Nissan, 7 laps off the leaders and five laps clear of the leading tin-top entry, Christian Ellis and Ian Riddle’s Mastercrete Auto Magic BMW 328i, which beat Theo van Vuuren and Bradley Scorer’s Alfa Romeo South Africa GT to fourth by a further lap. Hennie Trollip/Dave Sinclair were sixth in the Helderberg Propshafts Lotus Seven on 121 laps.
Seventh went to the ever-impressive Adrian Dalton and Wayne Lebotschy’s Index-winning Xtra Clothing Volkswagen Golf 1 GTi, which completed 119 laps in the three hours to end up just nine seconds clear of the Steve Truter/Wayne Lotter Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3. Mopar African Endurance stalwarts Mike Altona and Steve Pickering brought the Classic Motorsport Porsche 910 home ninth ahead of Dean Ball and Dorian Garvie’s BMW 328i, Neil Macleod and Andreas Letnick’s Just Racing Birkin and the Kelvin Reynolds/Bryan Heine HeineSport VSP S2000.
Dalton and Lebotschy’s Golf took Index of Performance honours with an 88.4% run, just on a tenth of a percent ahead of the Ellis/Riddle BMW, with the Trollip/Sinclair Lotus third from the Adcock/Murray Ligier, van Vuuren and Scorer’s Alfa Romeo and the Altona/Pickering Porsche.
Besides those principal retirements of the Carruthers/Engelbrecht Juno and MacDonald and Ian Smith’s Shelby, local crews Brent Watts and Ian Shrosbee’s Shelby and Chassen Bright and Bryn High’s Lotus Seven and the Dewald Brummer and Bevan Williams’ normally giant-killing Golf were among the teams that failed to make the race distance.
All of which left Simon Murray to clinch the championship, having amassed 49 points over teammate Nick Adcock who has 39 points after missing a round to race overseas, with Francis Curruthers and Johan Engelbrecht third on 34 points and in danger of now being caught by brothers Duncan and Graham Vos who now sit on 29 points following a late charge. The African Endurance Series will confirm its final round within two weeks.
African Endurance 3 Hours of the Eastern Cape – Results
1. Duncan Vos/Graham Vos (Ecurie Zoo Juno SSV6) 135 laps
2. Nick Adcock/Simon Murray (AidCall 24/7 Rico Barlow Ligier JS49) +1m 05.743s
3. Mike Verrier/Wayne Jardine (Aid Call 24/7 Shelby-Nissan) 128 laps
4. Christian Ellis/Ian Riddle (Mastercrete Auto Magic BMW 328i) 123 laps
5. Theo Van Vuuren/Bradley Scorer (Alfa Romeo SA GT) 122 laps
6. Hennie Trollip/Dave Sinclair (Helderberg Propshafts Lotus Seven) 121 laps
7. Adrian Dalton/Wayne Lebotschy Xtra Clothing VW Golf 119 laps
8. Steve Truter/Wayne Lotter (Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3) + 9.235s
9. Mike Altona/Steve Pickering (Classic Motorsport Porsche 910) 116 laps
10. Dean Ball/ Dorian Garvie (BMW 328i) 114 laps
11 Neil Macleod Andreas Letnick Just Racing 06562 Birkin 7 + 2m54.732s
12. Kelvin Reynolds/Bryan Heine HeineSport VSP S2000 104 laps