Mopar Endurance Series 2017 ready to rumble

02/17/17. The 2017 Mopar South African Endurance Series gets under way with the Mopar Goldfields 6 hour, when a thrilling field of new and existing machinery will descend on Welkom Phakisa Freeway to commence the series’ new national championship era Saturday 25 February.

Boasting new machinery and fresh driver combinations throughout the field in a bumper program that includes the 6-hour starting 13h00 Saturday alongside the inaugural races in the new South African GT Challenge earlier in the day, the focus will clearly be on the front of the field, where two of SA’s quickest new race cars are set to fight for the win.

2015 African Endurance Champions, Francis Carruthers, Nick Adcock and Johan Engelbrecht will debut their stunning new Harp Motorsport-entered Malta #1 Aquila-Corvette V8 coupe sports prototype in Welkom, but they will not have it all their own way, with news of Fantastic Racing’s Dallara-Renault FR1 – a spo! rts-bodied version of a Formula Renault 3.5 single seater, in the hands of endurance regulars Michael Jensen and Mark Lauth, along with teenage karting sensation, Stewart White.

Those two will be chased by Mike Verrier and Wayne Jardine’s Fantastic Racing/AidCall247 Shelby-Nissan V6 and Stuart Mack, Ian Smith and Graham Savage in a similar, however 2-litre turbo-powered Shelby-Nissan.

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Expect a strong turnout for the smallest sportscar class, with British visitor Nigel Greensall and Neil Glover’s Nash Motorsport MVW3 is set to take on Stefan Puschavez and Peter Jenkins MI Equipment Nadini-Volkswagen and PE visitor Bryan Heine, Kelvin Reynolds and Hennie Crous’ HeineSport VSP-Opel Sports 2000. Eric Salomon/Hennie Trollip/Dave Sinclair’s Team Lessons ELF S 06 Toyota and Gerdus Smit, Estelle Vermooten and Klippies Krige’s The 7 Boys Locost Seven Rocam will fight it out for lightweight honours.

There is a! lso a strong GT entry, with some cars doing double-duty, racing in both the GT and endurance races. 2016 Mopar African Endurance champion Simon Murray will be out in his Lamborghini Gallardo, sure to be hounded by Charl and Harry Arangies’ Stradale Motorsport Ferrari 360 and Cape Town duo Craig Jarvis Marcel Angel’s Panacea Racing Dodge Viper GTS-R. More GT variety comes in the way of another Cape entry in Dave Alhadeff, Martin Bensch and Theo du Toit’s PP Racing Panoz Esperante GTS

Backdraft Racing makes a welcome Mopar SA Endurance Series return with none other than former Daytona 24 winner and SA Driver’s Champion, Tony Martin, veteran Piet Bredenhahn and Duncan Day; and Mike McLoughlin and Mark Owens in a pair of Cobra-like Backdraft Toyota V8s racing out of Durban. Steve Pickering and Mike Altona will also be back aboard Classic Motorsport’s dependable 1967 Porsche 910.

There’s a glut of new metal among the tin-top entries too, with the Mopar Alfa Romeo team swapping its trusty GT for a new Giulietta entered for Bradley Scorer, Darren Winterboer and Theo Van Vuuren. They will be kept on their toes by old rivals Steve Truter and Wayne Lotter’s Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3, while George Smalberger, Trevor Bland and Heinz Bose’s Shield Racing Volkswagen Golf 5 GTi is another formidable touring car entry.

Cape Town Clubmans father and son, Andre and Alex Johnson will be in the Free State with their rapid Executive Motorsport Audi A4, while Pretoria brothers Wayne and Shaun Crous’ Ancro Building Projects Mini Cooper S is another entry to look out for. All of them must however first beat a few Mopar SA Endurance Series stalwarts the likes of regular giant killers Dewald Brummer and Bevan Wil! liamsMAD Racing/Fuchs Lubricants Volkswagen Golf 1 GTi.

Mike Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin are another team of SA Endurance experts, although this will be their last race in their faithful Bateleur Motorsport Toyota Corolla before they step up to a yet to be revealed sportscar later in the season, while Konig clan Fred, Jonathan and Stuart’s VW Golf II GTi should be another factor.

They will however all need to keep an eye out for historic racing regular Colin Ellison teamed up with SA S1600 rally champion Guy Botterill in Scuderia Ellisoni’s 1970, Alfa Romeo GTAm.

The Mopar Goldfields 6 hour starts 13h00 Saturday 26 February, with the two GT Challenge Sprint and Feature races going down in the morning. Sounds like a great reason to visit Welkom next week, but if not; the Mopar Goldfields 6-Hour and both GT races will be live streamed on www.motorsportmedia.co.za.