Surprise winners & champions crowned
Lewis Hamilton clinched his fifth Formula 1 title despite failing to finish on the podium in a Mexican Grand Prix dominated by Max Verstappen’s Red Bull ahead of the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton struggled to fourth at the finish, but that was enough to clinch the championship with two races to go. Hamilton needed to finish seventh to secure the title, but only if Vettel failed to win.
Vettel fought hard to move up to second but nobody had the pace to match Verstappen as the chase delivered a interesting dice with much overtaking as varied strategies played out. Vettel ended second from teammate Kimi Raikkonen, champion Hamilton and Valttieri Bottas in the other Mercedes after the luckless Daniel Ricciardo suffered another engine failure while defending second from Vettel late in the race.
Sebastien Loeb claimed an incredible first World Rally Championship win since 2013 with a shock Rally Spain victory for Citroen, as Sebastien Ogier moved into the lead of the title race. Nine-time WRC champion Loeb emerged in the lead Sunday morning, but had to fight Ogier off as the rally went down to the wire, holding on to win his ninth Rally Spain by 2.9 seconds — six years after his last. Ogier ended second from Ford teammate Elfyn Evans to take a 3-point lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville into the Australian finale with Toyota’s Ott Tanak third, 20 points adrift.
On two wheels, it was a very good weekend for South Africa’s Brad Binder, who stormed to Moto 2 Australian Grand Prix victory and moved up to third in the championship, while little brother Darren ended 13th, less than half a second behind the Moto 3 race winner after qualifying second! By the fifth lap of Sunday's Moto GP, four of the top riders had become spectators before Maverick Viñales finally broke Yamaha’s record no-win streak. Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista on Lorenzo’s GP18 were next up from Álex Rins’ Suzuki and Valentino Rossi's Yamaha.
In other international news, South Africa’s Kelvin van der Linde driving with Christopher Mies and Christopher Haase took their Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 to victory in the Inter Continental GT Challenge California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca with little brother Sheldon van der Linde fifth to help Audi to the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer’s title.
In local race news, the 2018 Mopar South African Endurance Series came to an epic conclusion at the East London 4-Hour on Saturday, when Cape Town father and son Marcel and Dayne Angel’s Autohaus Angel Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia took a comfortable victory over James Forbes and Fritz Kleynhans (Comenius Ligier JS53 Evo). The Angels needed four points to wrest the title, but came up just one short after Nick Adcock and Michael Jensen’s Aidcall247 Ligier JS53 Evo survived a late scare to come in third and take the title by a solitary point, while second-placed Forbes and Kleynhans moved up to third in the final title standings behind the Angels.
And finally, in local rallying Richard Leeke III rallying with Elvene Vonk, whose dad Kassie Coetzee once drove with Richard’s dad reading the notes, won an epic Ermelo Rally by just 0.7 secconds from Guy Botterill and Simon Vacy-Lyle, who took a back-to-back SA rally championship on Saturday. Leeke’s Fiesta was just 0.3sec quicker than Botterrill’s Gazoo Toyota Yaris on the final stage to secure the rally win. Jose Ferreira and Pierre Jordaan took Open class honours in their Subaru, while sideways Etienne Malherbe and Raj Jutley slid their Datsun to classic victory.