|What||Toyota Gazoo Racing Week|
|When||30 July-1 August 2021|
Van der Linde, Young on podium in dramatic racing weekend
Toyota Gazoo Racing Week 31 may have been relatively quiet, but had this weekend’s international motor races counted towards the Olympic Games, South Africa would have two more silver medals to boast. That following sensational performances in two of the year’s biggest racing events on two and four wheels.
KELVIN SECOND IN SPA 24 HOUR
SA’s DTM leader Kelvin van der Linde shared his Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts to second in a dramatic Spa 24 Hour. They started at the back following a qualifying red flag anomaly, but were soon fighting an epic race-long duel for the win with Alessandro Pier Guidi, Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen's Ferrari 488 GT.
The Ferrari led most of the way, but the Audi challenged throughout to finish just 4 seconds adrift after 24 hours of racing. Four other South Africans featured at Spa — David Perel’s team was in the thick of the Silver Cup podium fight throughout, but their Ferrari hit trouble late in the race to drop to 30th at the flag, one place behind Jordan Pepper.
Pepper had a major role in bringing his McLaren back from 40th at dawn Sunday following a difficult night’s racing. Stuart White’s Bentley stopped Sunday morning and Sheldon and der Linde’s BMW broke its engine in the night.
WADE YOUNG TAKES A ROMANIACS SILVER
South Africa’s second silver medal weekend performance came from iron man Wade Young, who rode his Sherco home second in the world's toughest hard enduro, Red Bull Romaniacs on Sunday. Young won the day on Friday as he fought home behind German triple winner Manuel Lettenbichler’s KTM following a week of epic racing around Sibiu in Romania.
And SA's third sliver was for Mathew Scholtz, who's Yamaha ended second in the first heat of the Brainerd, Minnesota Moto America US Superbikes with Cameron Petersen fifth on his Suzuki. Scholtz and Petersen were third and fourth in heat 2 and now sit second and third in the US Superbike championship behind the dominant Jake Gagne. Another SA youngster, Samuel Lochoff's Suzuki was third in both 600 Supersport races while Dominic Doyle's Kawasaki retired in race 1 and ended 6th in race 2. Lockhoff sits third in the title race, Doyle 11th.
The other racing highlight over the weekend was Alpine driver Esteban Ocon's sensational Hungarian Grand Prix win over Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile came from the back to move into the lead of the World Championship as the sport enters its winter break. Title rival, Max Verstappen fought to 9th after his Red Bull was involved in a major first corner crash triggered by Valterri Bottas. Hamilton dropped to last after a wrong tyre choice at the restart.
ALL QUIET ON THE HOME FRONT
The only other major international racing over the weekend was the Hungarian W Series race won by British lass Jamie Chadwick and British Touring Cars at Oulton Park, where Rory Butcher’s Toyota Corolla took the second race victory between a couple of Honda wins. Dan Rowbottom won a red flag hampered first race and Senna Proctor the reverse-grid final. Also at Oulton, SA lad Aqil Alibhai drove a Hamilton like race from the back to 12th in the Ginetta Junior race.
It was still quiet in local racing, where the SA Rotax Max karting season resumed with its first post-lockdown races at Celso Scribante in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. Masters men Byron Teengs and James Moore shared the DD2 races two to one, upcountry visitor Caleb Odendaal dominated Mini Max, Josh Moore won Micro Max and brother Jack Moore baby Bambinos. Reigning SA Mini Max champion Ghazi Motlekar had an encouraging run to 12th in the Euro Junior Max round at Le Mans.
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