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

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 team-mate, 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 team-mates 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.

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