THE MOTORSPORT LAP
Pepper to become second ‘Bentley Boy’
The weekend saw plenty of motorsport action and great news for a South African racer
It was the ninth round of the all-electric Formula E championship at Tempelhof Airport, Berlin this past weekend where Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler) drove a dominant race to secure victory in the BMW i Berlin E-Prix in front of his home fans.
He finished ahead of his team-mate Lucas di Grassi and current championship leader Jean-Eric Vergne (Techeetah).
Abt led from the front after clinching pole position to pick up his second win in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship after standing on the top step in Mexico City earlier this year. Not only did Abt collect three extra points for posting the quickest time in qualifying, he earned an additional point for the fastest lap — taking the spoils and gathering the maximum amount of points on offer.
"It’s special. I keep saying I have these weeks where I feel like good stuff is going to happen and I had this feeling here in my home round," said Abt.
"There is so much positive energy from everyone, from the fans to the staff. I felt confident today, in qualifying there was not much more in it and from then on, I knew we could win it. To get a one-two with Lucas was special for Audi, for everyone and the team."
The next round will take place in Zurich on June 10, bringing circuit racing back to Switzerland for the first time in more than 60 years.
The French leg of the MotoGP championship saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) romp to first place ahead of Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha).
In the Moto2 class, Francesco Bagnia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) proved the man to beat as he finished in the first podium spot ahead of Marc VDS Kalex team-mates Alex Marquez and Joan Mir. South African rider Brad Binder is slowly finding his mojo again and finished ninth overall in his class.
In the Moto3 class, Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team Moto3 KTM) finished first ahead of team-mate Andrea Migno and Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai KTM). The next race will take place at the Mugello circuit in Italy on June 3.
In other news, "Bentley Boy" Guy Smith will hand over his drive in the brand’s works team to South African racer Jordan Pepper. Former Le Mans winner Smith competed in his last race for Bentley Team M-Sport last weekend at Silverstone, UK.
While stepping back from his role with the team, Smith will retain his role supporting other Bentley customer teams around the world and remains a Bentley Motorsport test and development driver. After a 17-year association with the brand, including an outright victory at the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours with the Bentley Speed 8, Smith will also continue to be an ambassador for Bentley.
"This was not an easy decision to make, but the time is right for me to step back and allow some younger talent into my Bentley seat," said Smith.
"At the end of last year I decided that I wanted to see the new second generation Continental GT3 through its first race after being part of its development from the start — and we achieved that at Monza a few weeks ago. It feels right that my final race with the team should be at Silverstone, which has been one of the most important circuits of my career."
His seat will be taken by the experienced Pepper, who will be the second South African Bentley works driver for the team after Woolf Banarto in 1930.