This past Toyota Gazoo Racing Week 34 was topped by another incredible South African performance. MotoGP superhero Brad Binder took an epic home Austrian Grand Prix victory for his Red Bull KTM team, when he stayed out on slicks in driving rain, when most rivals pitted for wet tyres with three laps to race. Binder’s slick tyres and carbon brakes cooled to leave him literally without brakes or traction, but not even a last corner track limits penalty would stop him from taking an historic victory.
Brave Binder was Unstoppable
Ducati duo Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin’s rapid wet tyre pace was just not enough to prevent Binder from taking a popular 10-second victory. Raul Fernandez fended off fellow Moto2 rookie Ai Ogura to win Moto2 for KTM, but GasGas rider Sergio Garcia prevented a home triple when he beat KTM man Deniz Oncu by just 0.02 seconds. SA lad, younger Binder brother Darryn ended ninth in Moto3 amid rumours of his leap into MotoGP in 2022.
The Binders were not the only South Africans to star on two wheels this weekend. Mathew Scholtz’s Yamaha and Cameron Petersen’s Suzuki ended third and fourth in Saturday’s Pittsburgh MotoAmerica Superbike race. Scholtz improved to second in race 2 with Petersen sixth. Samuel Lochoff on a Yamaha and Kawasaki lad Dominic Doyle ended fifth and sixth in 600cc Supersport, before they respectively ended fourth and seventh in race 2.
It was a mixed bag for the Saffers across the pond in British Superbikes. Bjorn Estment retired from the first and second Superbike races before ending 17th in the final, Luke Verwey was 16th and Kade Verwey retired from the 600 Superstock race. And Jordan Weaving was twice 17th and Brent Harran 20th in the first, before retiring in the second 1000 Superstock heat.
Ogier Consolidates WRC Lead, Neuville Wins
Moving over to four wheels, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Sebastien Ogier consolidated his claim for a tenth World Rally Championship with fifth in Belgium’s Rally Ypres on Sunday. Thierry Neuville got his title hopes back on track with a home win for Hyundai ahead of teammate Craig Breen, while Toyota trio Kalle Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and Ogier were next up. Ogier leads the title on 162 points, 38 clear Evans and Neuville tied in second with four rounds left to rally.
Lucas di Grassi won an emotional Berlin Formula E heat 1 for the departing Audi team on Saturday. Sunday’s finale was red-flagged after a startline crash before accidents claimed various other title contenders too. That left Norman Nato to win the race for Venturi, while Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries was crowned champion amid talk of that team’s imminent exit too. Back in the USA, Will Power beat F1 refugee Romain Grosjean to his first IndyCar win of '21 on the Indy road course.
Over in the UK meanwhile, Colin Turkington’s BMW won the British Touring Car Championship opener at Knockhill, Scotland before Ash Sutton’s Infiniti beat Turkington to the second race win and Tom Ingram won the reverse grid finale for Hyundai. Also at Knockhill, former SA karter Aqil Alibhai enjoyed a strong weekend in the Ginetta Junior championship. He climbed to a season best 8th in race 1 and scored good points in the other three races.
Icy Zwartkops Tops Local Bill
Closer to home, great racing warmed an icy Zwartkops regional Extreme Festival. Charl Arangies’ Lamborghini narrowly beat young Mikaeel Pitamber’s Ferrari in G&H Extreme Supercars, Rory Atkinson defeated Wayne Masters in VW Challenge and Gert van den Berg won Formula Vee. Harry Arangies' Nissan topped 111s, Jonathan du Toit took Thunder Saloons in his Opel and SuperHatch in his Honda and Cyril Jacobs' VW and Ismail Peck’s Opel shared Super Cup wins.
A KZN Rotax Max karting regional at iDube saw local racers shine in spite of stiff upcountry competition. Robert Whiting and Masters wingman Jonathan Pieterse dominated DD2, Riley Horner and Jack Rowe topped the Senior Max podium, as did Troy Snyman and Nicolaos Vostanis in Junior Max. Travis Mingay beat Travis Yeld in Mini Max, Kyle Spies and Harry Rowe topped Micro Max and Jozi kid Matthew Shuttleworth won in baby Bambino.
Also in karting, SA lad Nik Roos ended up in the second round FIA Academy Final at Adria in Italy, while Mozambican SA Mini Max champion Ghazi Motlekar came in 25th.
Le Mans 24 Next
Le Mans 24 Hour. It promises to be a cracking one after the Glickenhaus 007 LMH, a pair of Toyota GR010 Hybrids, the Alpine A480 and ended up split by just a second after Sunday’s first pre-race test. South African duo, Jonathan Aberdein was 11th in LMP2, David Perel 8th in GTam.