Racing season back on track
THE MOTORSPORT LAP/ The Formula One season is about to get under way and most teams have unveiled their 2017 race cars
The 2016 FIM Moto 3 World Champion Brad Binder was announced as the Bridgestone SA-SA Guild of Motoring Journalists Motor Sportsman of the Year.
He was recognised for his dominant performance on his Red Bull KTM last season, while Zwartkops Raceway owner, Peter du Toit, was presented with the 2016 Colin Watling Award for extraordinary contributions behind the scenes of South African motorsport.
Dakar hero, Joey Evans, who was paralysed in a race crash 10 years ago and fought back to accomplish the impossible dream of finishing Dakar 2017 on his KTM, took the Off Track Rider of the Year award, and double SA Rally and Cross Country Champion Leeroy Poulter took the Off Track Driver of the Year prize.
Binder was also awarded the Circuit Rider of the Year Award, while European Audi Sport TT Cup racer, Sheldon van der Linde, who won four races — more than any of his TT Cup rivals in 2016 — took the Circuit Driver of the Year Award.
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Rotax World Mini Max Karting Champion, Jayden Els took the Junior Driver of the Year prize and 15-year-old KTM 390 Cup winner at home and in the UK, Brandon Staffen, took Junior Rider honours.
The Formula One season is only a few weeks away and many fans of the sport the world over have been waiting to see the various teams’ 2017 cars in their new design livery. Thankfully, with a change in the FIA guard, there are also some changes to the vehicles. These include wider front and rear wings and wider tyres. Meanwhile, the side pods have been moved back slightly, while the nose has been elongated.
According to reports, the V6 engines fitted to the vehicles will be made louder in the interest of bringing back the sound that has been lacking in recent years.
Some of the teams that have unveiled their vehicles include Ferrari, McLaren, MercedesBenz, Red Bull, Renault, Sauber, Haas and Toro Rosso. The vehicles themselves now look the part and we can only hope that allied to the new rules, the sport will once again have fans glued to their televisions or flocking back to the racetracks. The opening race of the season is March 24-26 in Australia.
Moving to GT Endurance Racing, South African GT racer David Perel has extended his contract with Kessel Racing Ferrari for 2017, after an extremely successful year of representing the team in the 2016 Blancpain GT Endurance Series. Perel’s achievements in his first year with the team highlights the racer as the “one to watch”.
“We are incredibly happy to have David Perel continue with Kessel Racing Ferrari for 2017. The 488 GT3 is a fantastic car that we used to win the Blancpain Pro-AM Championship in 2016 and I expect David to deliver a similar result this year in the AM Championship with his team-mates Marco Zanuttini and Jacques Duyver,” said Ronnie Kessel, owner of Kessel Racing Ferrari.
Mercedes will be hoping its new car can take them to another title this year.