Porsche Accident, Vernon Bricknell, Phakisa Freeway

Pro Tour Series: Recorded in front of a live track audience

Saturday morning we were greeted by a perfectly blue, windless sky. Like a tornado, a sigh of relief travelled through the race fraternity. Excellent Phakisa race day conditions, after an unscrupulous weatherman fiddled the wrong knobs yesterday and everybody had to feel the brunt. A high octane adventure race day lies ahead, may the best man be greatly applauded for his quick efforts.

Hastily I flipped through the race programme. The rumours had proved to be true as the programme confirmed that all the great actors will be appearing in today’s live race performance—Lights, Camera, Action!

The programme line-up in the GT Challenge cast comprised of the elusive Grand Wizard Toby Venter in his Porsche GT3 Cup, Charl Arangies in his Black Axe (Nobel M400), and Rocket Rod Edwardes also in a Porsche. Followed by Vernon Bricknell #7 in a ultra-red Porsche 911 996 GT3 RSR, quick on his heels will be Sun Moodley in a Porsche 911 997 GT3 Cup, Greg Parton (KTM X-Bow), Andrew Culbert also in a Porsche GT3 Cup, Deon du Plessis (KTM X-Bow), Preyen Moodley (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) and Jonathan Shankman in a Ferrari F430 Challenge. The last three to be introduced to the live track audience were Nicky Dicks racing a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Kris Budnik #45 in a BMW M3 and Barry Nel in a Porsche 944 Turbo Cup.

The GT Classic cast also introduced big names like, George Avvakoumides, Andrie Bester and Willem (BB – don’t ask) van der Westhuizen. Andreas Letnik #58 will make his appearance as supporting act and trying to fly pass him will be Andre van der Merwe #26 in a Porsche 911 RSR and Jacques Viljoen #14 in a Porsche Carrera.

Supplementing the action at the decaying Phakisa Freeway were the Goldwagen Challenge, Crystalix SA Formula Vee and the invitational GTi Challenge—APPLAUSE PLEASE!

Race one of the GT Challenge & GT Classic Mini Enduro saw Vernon Bricknell turning up the heat, guaranteeing himself the top podium spot with a best time of 1:43.752 while positions two and three went to Andrew Culbert #23 and Deon du Plessis #30 respectively. Although finishing in eighth position overall, Andrie Bester won the GT Classic race with a best time of 1:54.389, followed by Willem in his 1973 Porsche 911 RSR, 0:07.944 ahead of George Avvakoumides #16. Not too shabby for Willem who decided to do a 360 on an oil patch.

I strongly believe that Willem would have been the shadow haunting Andrie in his rear view mirror during race two, had the aforementioned not caused the 73 Porsche’s flat tyre during a bumper bashing on lap one. Some you win, some you lose. With the big grin on his helmet Willem took it like a true contender.

Drama, action and applause are essential for a successful live performance, and sadly also the poignant end of the ultra-red Porsche of Vernon Bricknell against the Phakisa pit straight wall. A shocking accident that almost took the rare-red-beast through the pearly gates of race car heaven. I don’t know if we will be seeing the Porsche or driver in action again, before the curtain goes down on the current Pro Tour season, but we wish Mr Bricknell, who was taken to hospital with a sore neck, all the best and a speedy recovery.

As quickly as the race cars went around Phakisa Freeway so did the day and as the closing credits of this live show rolled over the TV screen, I couldn’t help but notice the missing names from the formerly broadcasted cast, and sadly there was no applause, as this show was definitely NOT recorded in front of a live audience. With the still empty grandstands behind us, we said goodbye to Phakisa Freeway.

On the other side of the Phakisa Freeway tunnel, the same swallows that welcomed us on Friday morning, cheerfully continued their dance in the late afternoon sunlight. They paid no heed to the fudged sign below, welcoming fans to the motorsport capital of South Africa.

Trivial information for the masses: The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) like the one Sun Moodley races, sports a 3.8 litre flat six (cylinders) boxster engine producing 331kW, with a sequential six-speed manual gearbox to keep his right hand busy and weighs a mere 1200kg (source: www.porsche.com). •

Words & Photos: Adriaan & Martine Venter (Pro Tour Series, Phakisa Freeway, South African Motorsport, 2012/09/08, 159 images) Main Image: Vernon Bricknell #7, Porsche 911 996 GT3 RSR, GT Challenge.

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