The third day of the inaugural Cape 1000 classic and exotic car rally briefly took participants from the scenic Winelands back to Cape Town for a few laps of the Killarney racing circuit, before heading out towards the West Coast. Cars.co.za's Hannes Oosthuizen again experienced an eventful day.
Photos by: Devin Paisley, Dieter Pey, Duwyne Aspeling, Stefan Kotze, JoNo Nienaber
If you read my previous day's diary entry, you will know that our Austin-Healey 100/6 barely made it to Franschhoek, the overnight stop on Day Two of the Cape 1000. This morning I woke up to the news that the Healey broke down again when it was taken for a test drive by its owner the previous evening, and so was sent to Montague Gardens for some serious attention.
This meant that my co-driver (Greg Marucchi) and I had to hitch a ride to Killarney, while other participants could stretch their cars' legs on the N1 highway back to Cape Town. Given the extreme heat that we had to endure the previous day, I must admit that I enjoyed our Hyundai Staria's ventilated seats on the trip back to the Mother City.
Nevertheless, upon arrival at Killarney, our Austin-Healey was already in the queue to go onto the track - the problem turned out to be a faulty distributor, which had been fixed. The track session was not a competitive one, but rather an opportunity for owners to experience their cars on the racing circuit - for some of them it was a first.
Indeed, it was also somewhat bizarre (and stressful) to see our '67 Citroën gliding down the main straight of the racing circuit, driver Ciro de Siena's elbow casually resting on the window frame. He was gentle on the old girl, though.
Based on the screaming engines of the various Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris and McLarens in attendance, their owners couldn't resist the opportunity to "open the taps".
Of course, our Healey once again seemingly battle-ready, Greg and I also did a couple of laps, but the overheating issue returned after two laps and so we decided to play it safe and return to the pits. After all, Day Three's total distance was near 500km!
And then there was thunder!
Today's route took us through most of the Swartland's smaller dorpies, and it was fantastic to see the enthusiastic response wherever the vehicles went. Clouds were, however, looking ominous in the distance, and then thunder struck... literally.
When the rain came it came down hard and it kept pouring down for much of the day. Personally I enjoy rain and the cooler temperatures, and so, apparently does the Healey, as it didn't suffer from overheating as much as the day before. The problem was however, that without a roof, no side windows and wipers that intermittently cut out, the Healey's cabin started resembling a slowly-filling bathtub more than a car. Driver Greg and I were soaked. Our routebook was soggy, and I feared for the longevity of my smartphone, which is so crucial on this trip as it doubles as our speedometer and odometer - the Healey's dials are marked in miles and the trip computer doesn't work. Oh, and neither does the fuel gauge. So, about 300km into our journey we ground to a spluttering halt on a hill, in pouring rain - out of fuel.
Thankfully, the Cape 1000's trusty mechanic Wayne was nearby and had some fuel with him, so soon got us going again. A similar fate befell one of the other Mille Miglia-class cars, a beautiful red MG.
The timed sections today was really difficult as they generally required average speeds that tested the Healey's ability to remain cool (at just over 100kph you soon start to smell that things are heating up). But that wasn't the only problem. Visibility was problematic, with half-functional wipers on the outside only partly being of assistance, because there was as much water on the inside of the windscreen as on the outside! Still, I think we did well. We shall soon see!
Closer to our final destination of the day, St. Helena Bay, the clouds lifted and we got some sunshine, allowing our clothes to dry out a little before arrival at the overnight stop at Shelley Point. Some marvelously empty and nicely surfaced roads allowed us to enjoy the Healey, which was purring along happily.
As I got out of the car at the end of the day I couldn't help but admire the filthy condition that most of the exotics was in. You see, I think cars like these are made to be driven, and that's exactly what these owners are doing - enjoying them.
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