The Southern African Endurance Series (SAES) Championship remains fiercely competitive as teams gear up for the crucial five-hour endurance race at the Aldo Scribante Circuit in Gqeberha on June 1. This event, taking place during sunset and into the night, promises to be a thrilling test of skill and strategy.

Currently leading the championship standings is the Pple Group/Adapt Signage team, featuring Phillip Meyer, Dean Wolson, and Mark Harvey. Their Backdraft Roadster V8 has shown remarkable reliability, securing 71 points so far. Trailing them is Setshaba Mashego with 62 points; however, his absence from this event means he will likely lose his second-place standing. Trevor Graham and Dan Hirsch, also driving a Backdraft Roadster, hold third place with 60 points.

In the SAES, points are awarded to individual drivers based on overall and class performance. At the end of the season, each driver must drop their worst score from the six rounds, but only from events in which they participated. This rule adds an extra layer of strategy, as teams must carefully plan their race entries and performances.

Several top teams have already missed a round, including the Promigen Audi team (Paul Hill and Bradley Liebenberg), who suffered a setback at Zwartkops, and the Slingshot Backdraft team (Mike McLoughlin and Steve Clark), who faced difficulties at Red Star Raceway. Fortunately, these teams can drop these poor results from their final scores.

Last year’s event at Aldo Scribante was a four-hour race that saw intense competition between the Stradale Mercedes-Benz team (Charl Arangies and Arnold Neveling) and the Into Africa team (Xolile Letlaka and Stuart White). Into Africa ultimately triumphed, with Nick Adcock finishing third and Hein Lategaan in fourth after a brake issue.

Wayne Riddell, CEO of the Southern African Endurance Series, predicts that this year’s five-hour race will see approximately 250 laps, given last year’s fastest lap of 57.041 seconds by White on lap 173 of 204.

Phillip Meyer is enthusiastic about the upcoming challenge at Aldo Scribante, noting the difficulty of navigating Chevy Corner with the sun in their eyes but confident in the circuit’s lighting for night racing.

Returning to the grid are Nick Adcock and Charl Visser in the Adjust4Sleep/Rico Barlow Racing Nova Proto, joined by local ace Michael Stephen. Visser set the fastest lap ever at Zwartkops, and the team is expected to perform exceptionally well.

The Into Africa Racing Lamborghini team, led by White and Letlaka, aims to defend their previous year’s victory, while the Promigen Audi team is eager to make up for their Zwartkops mishap. The BBR Racing Porsche trio, including Hein and Henk Lategan and Verrisimo Tavares, also looks to climb the standings after missing the last event.

Audi is fielding a second car for MJR Motorsport, driven by Marius Jackson and Joseph Ellerine, adding more competition to Class A, along with the Spheremotorsport Toyota team of Sergio Alvares, Paul del Re, and Marco da Cunha.

In Class B, the G&H Transport/Sajco Audi team of Gianni and Ricky Giannoccaro with Ant Blunden will face off against the Backdraft team of Kishoor and Mikaeel Pitamber. Class C features a solo entry from the Kalex VW Golf team of Karah Hill and Jurie Swart, while Class D sees the Korridas VW Golf team from Mozambique competing alone.

Brian Martin and the Backdraft team have been praised for their exceptional preparation and support, ensuring a strong presence in Class E with nine Backdraft Roadsters. Lonika Maartens, currently seventh overall, will partner with Boeta Aucamp, while her regular partner, Fabienne Lanz, teams up with Denver Branders.

The growing competitiveness in Class E includes entries from the Pesty Racing team of Harm and Barend Pretorius and the Tradecore Steel trio of CJ Blackman, JP Briner, and Anthony Hoare. Team Qhubani, with Fikile Holomisa and Baphumze, will debut a new car, and other strong contenders include Gavin Rooke and Richard van Heerde, and Karshin Naidoo and Mark Owens.

The SAES event will also feature the Super Vee series as the official support race, promising close competition among identical single-seaters. Jeandre le Roux, Lushen Ramchander, Blane de Meillon, and Allen Meyer are among the top contenders.

The Aldo Scribante event will also showcase a full race card of Eastern Cape Regional classes, ensuring a day of thrilling motorsport action for all attendees.