GT title in sight for SA Ferrari star David
South Africa’s David Perel has driven his Kessel Ferrari 488 GT3 to victory in the crown jewel of international GT racing, the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Perel, driving with Italians Andrea Zanuttini and Niki Cadei and Belgian Jacques Duyver crossed the line to take AM class honours with a massive 4 lap lead, just missing out on a top 20 finish overall in a dream come true for the Cape Town driver.
“There are few words to describe how incredible it is to win a race you’ve been dreaming about most of your life,” an elated David explained. “To not only take part, but actually win it, is a fairy tale for me and despite day dreaming about it everyday, you never really know if it could actually happen but it has and I’m hugely proud!”
Perel’s week got off to a perfect start at the legendary Spa Francorchamps F1 track, where the worlds top GT3 teams, car manufacturers and drivers gathered for The Big One, when he ended up first in class in wet track conditions in Thursday’s first practice session.
Qualifying wasn’t as easy but with a last minute lap during the night session saw Perel grab pole position for his team to set them up very well for the race. “I was a bit tense during the first phase of qualifying and made a mistake during my lap, so we decided to give it another go during the night session and it worked!”
Being the fastest of the four drivers in the #888 Kessel Ferrari 488 GT3, David earned himself most of the driving work. “Knowing that I had to do between 10 and 14 of the driving this year, I was well prepared physically,” David pointed out. "These cars aren't easy to drive, especially after 2 hour stints at the wheel!"
David took the start for his team and maintained the lead in class while battling up to 34th position overall. From then on it was a case of avoiding incidents and unnecessary pit stops. “My co-drivers did an amazing job, none of us made a single mistake during our stints and we stuck to the plan of maintaining a decent pace which wouldn’t result in any mistakes.”
The next morning the 888 car was still in one piece and leading its class, which meant a win was clearly on the cards. “The saying goes ‘Survive the night, see where you are in the morning and then start talking about wins and podiums’. “Well, we survived the night and we were leading and it was around then that the nerves started to pick up again.”
The #888 Ferrari however ran like a train, leading pretty much from lights to flag to take a massive 4 lap victory and to propel Perel to the verge of the 2017 Blancpain AM Driver’s Championship.
“I now only need six points to seal the championship at the final round in Barcelona in September,” David concluded. “I need to say a massive thank you to my team, Kessel Ferrari, and my co-drivers Jacques Duyver, Marco Zanuttini and Nicki Cadei — everyone did an incredible job — we are on top of the world!”