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When I first received the invite to attend the Porsche Parade in East London, what grabbed my attention on the itinerary was the opportunity to drive around the iconic East London Grand Prix Circuit.

Having attended the unforgettable Cape Porsche Parade in 2013 previously, there were lots to look forward to for the 2017 event – making new and rekindling old acquaintances with like-minded Porsche fanatics and off course all the driving events.

I was worried that my GT4 would be damaged if loaded onto a transporter, which was confirmed. Not wanting to risk loading damage, we decided to drive to East London instead.

The day before we departed Pieter de Bruin started a “Porsche Parade 2017” WhatsApp Group. In true South African style, it didn’t take long for the humour and the “chirping” and so the tone was set for what was to become a spirited get-together of Crazy Porschefiles, as dubbed by Karl Illenberger.

Esme and I left Paarl on Thursday morning. We were heading for Jeffrey’s Bay via Route 62 where we were booked to stay over at Diaz 15 Guest House. Our hosts at the J-Bay guesthouse Coenie and Dorette Nel own a Porsche Panamera and impressively offered me a parking spot in their private garage – their other family car had to sleep outside! The GT4 safely tucked away for the night, we headed for popular seafood restaurant Kitchen Windows.

The following morning we headed for East London via the N2 and Grahamstown. One thing absent when travelling through the Eastern Cape are roadside Engen/Shell filling stations/restaurants – even along the N2.

Arriving in East London, our GPS guided us via Oxford Street. This was the scariest experience that I ever encountered in my Porsche. Local people in all sorts of barely roadworthy vehicles and many, many taxis, shave past either side. If my Porsche had two layers of polish we would have touched. Arriving at the Blue Lagoon was a great relief!

Saturday 29 April 2017 saw 112 Porsches head towards King Williams Town after breakfast. The road towards “King” was excellent, this should be declared an Autobahn – or at least it should have been for that day! Arriving at Bulembu Airport just outside King William’s Town, all cars lined up on the apron in front of the terminal building.

The airport apron is cement – which normally would provide excellent levels of grip for the tight Pirelli Autocross course laid out by Karl and his team. However, because this airport has not been used for several years, the entire area was covered in dry moss/fungus. This meant that exactly the opposite was true – extremely low levels of adhesion through the cones with most drivers inducing handfuls of understeer and wasting time in the process. The most spectacular driver on the day was Karl – drifting his 1996 Carerra 993 with great precision. As cars completed the Autocross during the day, the grip improved and so the faster times were recorded towards the end of the sessions.

The Mobil 1 top speed run and Centlube ¼ mile was a combined event on the beautiful runway of the airport. Professional starting lights and timing devices were at hand for the ¼ mile and the local traffic department set up their speed radar at the 1.8km mark.

After a great day at the Bulembu airport, participants made their way back to the hotel to prepare for dinner at Pine Creek – only a few minutes from the Hotel. A really funny guy Gino Fabbri who can imitate just about anyone entertained us – and he can play the drums! Good laughs, good fun!

Sunday, 30 April 2017 – the Grand Prix Circuit awaits!

At breakfast Jannie Gildenhuys declared that in his motorcycle-racing heyday “he had the Balls for Potters”. What he is referring to ladies is that he could take the infamous Potters Bend right-hander flat out without tapping off! Much anticipation therefore for the rest of us who have never seen the circuit – let alone experienced it – do we have what Jannie had/has??

Bigfoot Express Time Trails

All drivers were grouped together by horse power of their Porsches. Twenty-minute sessions per group meant that everybody had plenty of driving opportunity. The sessions were interrupted for lunch sponsored by Sun Moodley. There was no-one faster than Sun Moodley on the day. Supported by his entire race team, Sun’s 991 GT3 Cup car fitted with soft racing slicks was in a class of its own.

In Group B Francois Steenkamp impressed with his Boxster to take Class honours whilst fellow Capetonian and avid racer Matt Kreeve took Group C honours in his 964 to keep the Western Cape flag flying high. There were seven GT4’s in Group D and here “Wildman” Albert Moffat could not be caught by either his good friend from Pretoria, Bruce Bartie or me.

What a race track! What fun!

The evening after the Bigfoot Express Time Trails we had a dress up party. A great band ensured that many danced the night away.

Monday, 1st May 2017

Hemingway shopping mall was the destination for the show-and-shine taking place on the day. Those that didn’t wash their cars the previous evening rose early to do so before breakfast.  East Londoners young and old attended the show and shine and engaged in many conversations about the Porsches on display.

That evening buses transported delegates to the Black Tie dinner and prize giving, where we were yet again entertained by the hilarious Gino Fabbri.

Driver of the Parade award went to Quinsley Sale.

Porsche Club Cape Winners were:

Francois Steenkamp, Jannie Gildenhuis, Colin Plit, Matt Kreeve, Lourens Bester, Stuart Anderson, Nick Rust , and myself, Derek Hitchcock.

16 trophies in all with Francois and myself being the top Cape Town dogs.

Cape Town did the best per participant of all the regions.

Tuesday, 2nd May 2017

A few delegates left before sunrise but most headed off into their various directions after breakfast. Although the Porsche Parade of 2017 was now officially over, Karl arranged the Aldo Scribante race track for the afternoon for those heading to/via Port Elizabeth.

Aldo Scribante

Yet another fantastic race track! Scribante has a reputation of having lots of traction at the cost of tyre wear. Soon we were getting the lines more or less right and the pace started to pick up. Word must have got out to some local high school boys that the Porsche Club was to descend on Scribante as they arrived with cameras and a drone to make videos.

A tribute to the Porsche GT4

There have been few cars to receive so many accolades from all over the world by respected people as did the GT4. In 2015, the GT4 won the Evo Car of the Year.

For seven lucky owners of GT4’s who took part in the 2017 Porsche Parade, we were privileged to experience the true potential of our cars in a safe environment. The GT4, with its mid-engine layout, was the second fastest road car around East London GP Circuit in the hands of Albert Moffat – only Francois Slabbert in his 991 GT3RS was quicker. I set the fastest overall time in the Autocross with my GT4. (# Proud Moment!)

The GT4 is obviously capable. It is engaging and fun to drive. Its proportions are perfect and it is beautiful to look at.

A huge thank you to Karl and his team for putting up a great Parade in 2017, and to Claudia, for attending all the way from Porsche headquarters in Stuttgart. A jam-packed parade was enjoyed by us all.