Tasmin Pepper fought through the field to finish eighth in the W Series opening round after qualifying 16th.
Tasmin Pepper fought through the field to finish eighth in the W Series opening round after qualifying 16th.

SA’s Tasmin Pepper staged an impressive comeback from 16th to eighth place in the inaugural round of the all-female W Series in Germany on Saturday.

She overcame a difficult qualifying at Hockenheim to score points on her debut in a series that pits 18 women against each other in a field of identical Formula Three cars.

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick won the race with compatriot Alice Powell second at a damp and overcast Hockenheim. Spaniard Marta Garcia finished third. The victory completed a dominant two days for 20-year-old Chadwick, one of five Britons in the field.

The next round in the six-round series will be in Belgium in two weeks’ time.

The new W Series, which aims to help women make it to Formula One, could itself be on the fast track to joining the grand prix circus.

Former racer David Coulthard, a key player behind the scenes, said at Hockenheim there had already been discussions about the W Series featuring on the Formula One support programme.

Nissan GT-R Wins Knysna Hillclimb

The 10th edition of the Jaguar Simola Hillclimb crowned a new King of the Hill champion and saw the reign of two others extended in Knysna on the weekend.

Franco Scribante powers his radical Nissan GT-R to the King of the Hill title in Knysna.
Franco Scribante powers his radical Nissan GT-R to the King of the Hill title in Knysna.
Image: Supplied

The biggest news of the day was Franco Scribante taking his first King of the Hill title in the Modified Saloon Car category, powering his radical 2016 Nissan GT-R to a new Class B record time of 39.274 seconds. He ousted 2018 winner Wilhelm Baard who had to settle for second place in the final Top 10 Shootout.

In the Single Seater and Sportscar category, Andre Bezuidenhout fought off a strong challenge from Robert Wolk (2009 A1 GP Ferrari) to secure his third win a row. He powered the specialist Gould GR55 Hillclimb car to a winning time of 36.764sec , with his outright record of 35.528sec remaining unbeaten due to much cooler conditions in 2019 .

It was a similar story for Reghard Roets who made it a hat-trick of victories in the Road Car and Supercar category, after slashing his 2018 time by 0.8sec to set a new Class A record of 44.094sec in his Nissan GT-R.

The other intriguing tussle was between three local racing legends in a trio of Jaguar I-Pace EV400 electric vehicles. Mike Briggs set the winning time of 50.124sec , finishing 0.485sec ahead of Deon Joubert, with Shaun Watson-Smith third.

More than 17,000 spectators attended the 2019 Jaguar Simola Hillclimb over the three days of Hillclimb action.

Franco Scribante also scooped his fifth Classic Conqueror title in a 1970 Chevron B19, with a time of 42.574sec . Second in this classic-car category was Andre Bezuidenhout in a 1976 Lola Cosworth Formula Atlantic single-seater, and third was 77-year-old V8 racing legend Willie Hepburn in his 7.0l 1981 Opel Rekord that hails from the WesBank Modifieds era.

Can Ferrari reign in Spain?

Formula One heads to Spain this weekend for round five, at the same Catalunya circuit where Ferrari looked so dominant in preseason testing before Mercedes promptly took the top two places in each of the opening four rounds.

Ferrari are getting used to finishing behind Mercedes this year. Can they turn it around in Spain?
Ferrari are getting used to finishing behind Mercedes this year. Can they turn it around in Spain?
Image: Reuters

It’s been the most dominant start to a season ever, leaving a revitalised Valtteri Bottas leading his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 87 points to 86, with Ferrari’s closest challenger Sebastian Vettel languishing on 52 points.

Although they’ve been close in pace at times, Ferrari have so far been unable to pose a threat to Mercedes in both race speed and tactics, and we may face the prospect of another dominant season by the reigning champions.

From what has transpired so far, Vettel and his young teammate Charles Leclerc may likely be fighting for best-of-the rest status with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who is fourth in the driver standings, just one point behind Vettel and three ahead of Leclerc on 47.

There seems to be nobody else in possible title contention. Pierre Gasly has thus far failed to challenge his teammate Verstappen, and is locked in a midfield battle with the likes of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen.