ENDURANCE RACE READY: The Ginetta G55 GT4 will be driven by four South African drivers at the Paul Ricard 24-hour race in France. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
Cape Town - Although we’re seeing a host of South Africans competing in some of the toughest motorsport championships in the world, it’s not often that we’re seeing a local team taking to this challenge.
This weekend (July 15-17) this will however become a reality as the Hankook 24-Hour Series field prepares to take on the Paul Ricard circuit in France
This is also not just a quick wildcard entry being put together; international competition has been the aim of Team Africa Le Mans since the very start. The team has been competing in the South African endurance series for the past two years, predominantly racing with two Pilbeam chassis.
In December 2015 the team had a very successful outing in the Cape Town 9-Hour in a brand new car: The Ginetta G55 GT4. Following a few upgrades this is exactly the car that the team will be using at the Paul Ricard circuit as well.
The car will be piloted by five professional drivers. Returning to the wheel will be the Cape Town 9-Hour trio of Sarel van der Merwe, Greg Mills and Holland’s Jan Lammers. They will be joined by Terry Wilford and Nick Adcock.
PRO DRIVERS: Sarel van der Merwe, Jan Lammers and Greg Mills will be returning to the wheel for the 24 Hours of Paul Ricard race in July 2016. Image: Reynard Gelderblom
The driver line-up needs no introduction – combined they have built a much respected history in local and international motorsport. Adcock comes fresh from a victory in the most recent round of the South African Endurance Series.
The team and driver line-up is however not where the South African connection comes to an end. During the Cape Town 9-Hour weekend the team signed a sponsorship deal with Cape Town based lubricant distributor Fast Oil Liqui Moly.
Up till now their involvement in motorsport has primarily been on the Cape Town regional scene with leading competitors in the Bold Marine GTi Challenge series, Cape Hell Drivers, Western Cape rally championship and Western Province karting classes sporting the very striking branding.
Steven Hackner, managing director of the company, says: “Motorsport is close to our hearts and of course competition in this environment is the ultimate testing and marketing platform for our products. Now we’re going a little further than the average sprint race: We’re quite willing to put our name and products behind the fully South African led and engineered team and their continued endurance racing programme.”
'Realisation of a dream'
Team manager Anton Roux is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of him and the team: “While this will be a very manic week for us, we’re anticipating what lies ahead. This is the realisation of a dream for us and we’d like to thank everyone for their support in making this possible. And our fans in South Africa must not feel left behind. Live streaming of the endurance race will be available on the series website."
There are many questions regarding the team’s future endeavours as Roux continues: “Of course we have been asked about Le Mans already. At present we’d like to focus more on the 24 Hour and 12 Hour series events.
"These are taking place regularly at some of the most fascinating circuits around the globe and are open to everyone from gentlemen drivers to professional race drivers competing in a range of cars ranging from hot hatchbacks to purpose built racing machines.”
The team will also be carrying a statement very close to their hearts in their livery for this event as Roux concludes: “Poaching is something that we in Africa know very well. This is however a global concern. Countering this is something we as team feel very strongly about. On the Ginetta we’ll be showing our support for anti-poaching initiatives and we’re hoping to raise more awareness about this on the global stage.”
The weekend’s schedule starts on Wednesday evening, however the free practice and qualifying sessions are scheduled for Friday. The 2016 Hankook 24-Hour Circuit Paul Ricard race will get underway on Saturday afternoon 2.30pm.
Follow the Africa Le Mans team on Facebook and Twitter.