I received a phone call on Wednesday 13 March asking if I would race Bryon Bedien’s car (my old race car) as Bryon would not be able to make the event. Now, normally I would decline as I just don’t feel comfortable racing someone else’s car at 10/10ths knowing full well the possibilities that could go wrong. This one was somehow a little different and besides, Mr. Bedien was of the opinion, racing is racing.
All necessary arrangements and email notifications were made to complete the driver change as well as filling out the necessary paperwork when next thing I was notified the car is smoking and may not be ready for the race. Either way I was still going to Cape Town, come racing or not.
I flew down on the Thursday 14th March and got notification that they had now opened the engine to find the oil rings were damaged ad that a new complete set of rings was to be fitted that morning. Well, all the paper work was in and waiting and by 1pm on the Thursday the car had not as yet been completed nor ready to fire up. Then I got the final call at around 3pm to say its alive and ready and will be at the track by 5pm after loading up and getting through all the traffic.
I took her out at 17h15 for a shake down and only minor issues were encountered whereupon they were addressed and I then went out again at 17h45. Not having raced the car since I had sold it and with many changes having been made in the 2 years it took a little getting used to but hey, it was a car on the grid for Saturday and I was only too happy to have the chance to race my old Datsun GX.
Saturday morning we arrived at track to do final prep and we qualified at 08h20. I tried to slot in where there was the least amount of traffic just so that I could get a few more laps under the belt as well as get a little more milage on the refreshed motor. Increasing my speed on each lap I eventually managed a 1:33.572 which left me 22nd on the starting grid.
Race 1 was off at 10h20 and with a few butterflies still in the stomach at the start (they felt more like bats out of hell) I was soon catching a few that were quicker than me. I just loved that fact that the ‘baby’ Datsun GX actually beat the ‘big’ Skyline of former Wesbank fame……….but that’s a whole different story. Picking them off one by one along with a few others that dropped out I managed to get up to 12th place after a great dice between myself and the Pre-90 VW Golf Mk2 of Layne Hutchings and finishing only a mere 8/100 of second behind him while putting in a 1:31.874 during the race.
Race 2 was off at 14h05 but rather a little warmer than it was at 10am. I had a fair start but was unable to jump the pre-90 cars who simply had more power than me but ‘hang on snoopy‘ I sure did. It was really a carry on from race 1 where I simply again found myself staring into the back of the Mk2 Golf back window and try as I may I could not find a way through. I watched for possible areas where I could make a move and eventually found 1 on lap 6 entering turn 2 where the Golf made a small mistake and I got through on the inside. My only chance was to keep the momentum as I simply did not have the power to open a gap other than being quicker into and through the corners. I held off the challenge through the Kink, got through turn 3 with a slight gap now on the Mk2 Golf coming out of 3 but approaching turn 4 was a slow car which momentarily slowed me down a fraction and the Golf now had a slipstream down the back straight. With not too much effort he passed me heading into turn 5 and I was hoping for him to run in a bit hot so that I could do the undercut coming out of 5. It worked albeit only for a few meters before their legs got the better of me yet again. Again it was nose to tail through turn 1 and again up into turn 2, with me desperately trying for a way through perhaps in turn 3. Sadly on the Joubert straight, the water bottle pushed out its contents and the heat gauge went to full tilt. Game over. I had no option but to retire from the race and call it a weekend. I still managed to beat my race 1 lap time albeit only by a mere 1/10th of a second.
Thank you once again to Yulbrunner Bedien and his son Bryon for the chance to race his car and to my ‘Boet’ for helping with setting the finer engine settings. I really needed that race.
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