South African and Kessel Ferrari racing driver David Perel has won the crown jewel of international GT racing, the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Held at the legendary F1 track Spa Francorchamps, the 24 hour race consists of the world’s best GT3 teams, car manufacturers and drivers.
Perel’s week got off to a perfect start during their first practice session when he ended up first in class in wet track conditions. Qualifying wasn’t as easy though but with a last minute lap during the night session Perel grabbed pole position for his team which set them up well for the race.
“I was a bit tense during the first phase of qualifying and made a mistake during my lap, but we decided to give it another go during the night session and it worked!”
The start would take place late afternoon on Saturday 29 July, and with each team consisting of four drivers who take turns at the wheel during the event. In the Kessel Ferrari 888 car David was the fastest driver of the four and was due to do most of the work.
“Knowing that I had to do between 10 and 14 of the driving this year I was well prepared physically. 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 all did an amazing job, none of them made a single mistake during their stints and 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 now on the cards.
“The saying goes ‘Survive the night, see where you are and then start talking about wins and podiums’, well we survived the night and we were leading! It was around this time that the nerves started to pick up again.”
Perel’s main competitors couldn’t keep up though and started to experience crashes and unreliability while trying to keep pace with the Ferrari.
By the end of the race the Kessel team crossed the line with a massive 4 lap lead and just missed out on a top 20 finish overall, a dream come true for David.
“There are few words to describe how incredible it is to win a race you’ve been dreaming about most of your life. To not only take part, but actually win it, is a fairy tale for me. Despite day dreaming about it every day you never really know if it could actually happen but it did and I’m hugely proud.”
“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!”
Perel now only needs 6 points to seal the Blancpain Endurance Championship at the final round in Barcelona in September. (Pics: Xynamic)