50 years ago, a white Porsche 917 ran in the colours of a new team – Team Perfect Circle. The car was still pretty new and the drivers were Richard Attwood and David Piper.
At that event was a small boy, aged 8, who was experiencing the thrill of motorsport for the very first time. His name was Andre Bezuidenhout and it had a profound effect on him and cemented his passion for sportscar racing and Porsche.
Today, Andre is a very successful Barrister in his native South Africa, and a good friend of mine. He owns some significant Porsches – from 911S/T to 993 RSR to 996 RSR. He also owns the BPR World Championship winning 993 GT2 and the British GT Championship winning 997 GT3 R.
When he heard that the SRO was bringing an International endurance Sportscar race back to South Africa (for the first time in 37 years), he knew he had to be a part of it. He phoned me in the UK and we started to develop a plan. A plan that would see an all-South African gentleman driver line up and the developing of a new team. After a meeting with David Piper himself, he gave us his blessing to bring the Team Perfect Circle team back after 50 years.
The car we would use would be that 997 GT3R 4.0 that has the 2014 aero upgrades. A magnificent car, but we were under no illusions that it is also 5 years old now. It’s still eligible though, so we pushed forward with this plan. We were never expecting to be anywhere near the front, so let’s develop this car and have our own race.
Six months later and we are in the paddock at Kyalami. Porsche have brought ten factory drivers for their five Factory supported teams. For our boys to be sharing the track with the likes of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, Nick Tandy and Lars Kern was truly special.
Despite all of the preperation, our car suffered from a gearbox issue after a spin by one of our drivers in a practice session. This ultimately caused some damage to the second gear. Not terminal, but not ideal. We also had a technical gremlin that was effecting the ABS.
We had to turn off the ABS all together, and be careful with that gearbox. In Q1 and Q2, we were competitive with some much newer machinery and similar amateur drivers, setting times in the low 1:48’s. The top teams were five seconds ahead, but thats okay – we werent competing with them. In Q3 the heavens opened. No ABS and we were on slicks. A red flag meant we came in for wets and only had a couple of laps to set a time. We decided to nurse the car around because having a car in one-piece was more important than being a couple of places up the grid. Especially as we had no ABS!
So we were starting from the back. 28th place. Within the first hour we had climbed to 24th and were setting decent lap times in the low 1:49’s. Second driver jumped in and we had a power steering issue after 15 minutes if that stint. Box, box, box. Car was repaired but we’d slipped to 26th. A few laps later and the issue happened again – a quick pit and we were back on our way again.
We started to chip away at the cars in front before we changed for Andre to take over. We has got back to 24th and all seemed well, until that second gear issue reared its head.
And that was that. The gearbox wouldnt allow us in to third. The part had completely failed. We were out after nearly 4 hours. Gutted doesn’t begin to cover it. But, we’ve had an amazing time. We’ve learnt A LOT. And we will now be back. But not in this car – we’ll be trying to secure a new GT3 R. Watch this space…