South African drivers endured a tough weekend racing abroad, with even the most successful of them managing to bounce back from a disaster earlier in the weekend.
That honour belonged to Jordan Pepper, who turned in a star performance to put his Deutsche Post Bentley on his maiden pole position for Saturday’s first ADAC GT Masters race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, only for the car to suffer a technical problem and miss the first race. Teammate Daniel Abt made amends to put the yellow Bentley third on the grid for Sunday’s second race, before handing the car over to Pepper, who drove it home third to claim his first podium.
“I was super happy to secure my first pole position, but it was such a disappointment not to start the race,” Jozi driver Jordan explained. “But I am really, really happy with Sunday’s result – it’s my first podium of the year and a perfect way to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment.” Pepper dedicated his podium finish to South African race driver Gugu Zulu, who passed away after complications with altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro last week.
Stephen Simpson was another driver to have a difficult weekend on the other side of the pond at Lime Rock in Connecticut in the US – the Indianapolis-based Capetonian had a good race in his Sport Production BMW, before mounting a stirring comeback in the Prototype Challenge Oreca Chevy to salvage critical championship points after his Canadian teammate Misha Goikhberg was involved in an earlier crash. Simpson drove with a new smiley face in his helmet for the first time on the weekend – it will remain there in honour of his late friend Gugu Zulu for the remainder of Stephen’s race career.
Back at Spielberg, another Capetonian, Jonathan Aberdein endured a tough weekend of ADAC German Formula 4 racing and despite flying in practice, the weekend proved tougher than planned. A difficult qualifying saw Jonathan starting well down the grid before being caught up in mid pack-incident in the first corner of Race 1 and eventually stopping. The second race went far better for Aberdein, who dove from 20th to finish ninth before another hard drive to 21st after starting at the back in race 2.
South Africa’s other ADAC GT Masters hero Kelvin van der Linde and his Spanish teammate Isaac Tutumlu had a weekend to forget with their blue Car Collection Audi R8 at the Red Bull Ring. Sandton lad Kelvin missed qualifying on Saturday after the car broke an engine, before a difficult first race and another disastrous qualifying on Sunday. But Kelvin drove