Ver­stap­pen sur­prises For­mula One lead­ers

THE MO­TOR­SPORT LAP/ The Malaysian F1 Grand Prix proved fruit­ful for the Red Bull Rac­ing team

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Mo­tor News Re­porter

In an in­ter­est­ing Malaysian Grand Prix all the cham­pi­onship lead­ers, in­clud­ing Lewis Hamil­ton (Mercedes), had to bow down to a charg­ing Max Ver­stap­pen (Red Bull Rac­ing).

Ver­stap­pen had great pace through­out the race to fin­ish first, ahead of Hamil­ton in sec­ond, while Ver­stap­pen’s team­mate, Daniel Ric­cia­rdo, fin­ished third. With five races to go, Hamil­ton leads the cham­pi­onship with 281 points, while Se­bastien Vettel (Fer­rari) is on 247 points, fol­lowed by Valt­teri Bot­tas (Mercedes) with 222 points.

The jour­ney to Es­ter­ing paid off once again for Mat­tias Ek­strom (Audi S1 EKS RX Quat­tro). Af­ter the Swede wrapped up the World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle early in 2016 at the track in Bux­te­hude near Ham­burg, he cel­e­brated his tenth win in the World Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship in 2017 and closed in on record win­ner Pet­ter Sol­berg.

PROW­ESS

Ek­strom once again proved his prow­ess at the Bux­te­hude, Ger­man-leg race at the week­end when he claimed vic­tory ahead of Tammy Hansen (Team Peu­geot-Hansen) in sec­ond and Toomas Heikki­nen (Audi S1 EKS RX Quat­tro) in third.

The Ral­ly­cross Cham­pi­onship will also be hosted at the Kil­lar­ney Race­track in Cape Town on Novem­ber 11-12.

South African racer David Perel com­pleted a clean sweep of cham­pi­onship wins in Barcelona at the week­end af­ter tak­ing the Blanc­pain En­durance Cup with Kes­sel Fer­rari.

The week­end was trou­ble free with Perel and his team­mates Jac­ques Duyver and Marco Zanut­tini be­ing fast in wet and dry con­di­tions dur­ing prac­tice. David took pole po­si­tion in class dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing but his Fer­rari 488 GT3 was forced to start from the pit lane af­ter an en­gine is­sue stopped them get­ting to the grid.

The aim for Perel and his team was sim­ply to cross the fin­ish line as they re­quired just four points to seal the ti­tle.

In the end Perel man­aged to grab a podium in the AM class and seal the Blanc­pain En­durance Cham­pi­onship.

“I could not have dreamt of a more in­cred­i­ble year. We won all the big races and I man­aged to win ev­ery cham­pi­onship I com­peted in. At the be­gin­ning of [2017] I de­cided to make rac­ing my pri­mary fo­cus in my life and it’s proven to be an in­spired choice. It’s an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing,” said Perel.

CHINA RALLY

The in­au­gu­ral Dakar Se­ries China Rally took place from Septem­ber 24-27 near the in­ner Mon­go­lian town of Alxa, China.

The event was or­gan­ised by the Amaury Sports Or­gan­i­sa­tion, which also run the Dakar Rally, giv­ing Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA the op­por­tu­nity to take part in a gru­elling seven-stage race over extreme ter­rain, to the same rules and stan­dards as will be in place when Dakar gets un­der way early in 2018.

The team fielded two cars in the race, with Giniel de Vil­liers and nav­i­ga­tor Dirk von Zitze­witz tak­ing charge of the first; and Ar­gen­tine rac­ers Lu­cio Al­varez and Pacha Ro­driguez in the sec­ond. For Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA Team Prin­ci­pal Glyn Hall, the China Rally was an in­valu­able op­por­tu­nity to test and pre­pare for the Dakar.

De Vil­liers/Von Zitze­witz pow­ered their Toy­ota Hilux to a sec­ond-place fin­ish, end­ing the day just 13 sec­onds adrift. Team­mates Al­varez/Ro­driguez were fifth-fastest on the opener, and the team was feel­ing up­beat about their chances.

Alas, in Stage 3, De Vil­liers/Von Zitze­witz fell foul to a rock em­bed­ded on the blind side of a dune — as did the rest of the top four com­peti­tors.

“It re­ally turned the race on its head. Huge dis­ap­point­ment for us, of course, but there’s noth­ing we can do,” said Hall.

In the end, Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing SA com­pleted the rally’s fi­nal, short stage of only 28 km, of­fi­cially end­ing the race in 18th place in the over­all stand­ings.

David Perel clinches his third ti­tle in the 2017 Blanc­pain GT Se­ries sea­son.

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