SA CHAMPION! Brad Binder has won the Moto3 World Championship with four races to spare. Image: AFP / Jaime Reina
Johannesburg - Binder was recognised for his dominant performance on his Red Bull KTM last season, while Zwartkops Raceway owner, Peter du Toit was presented with the 2016 Colin Watling Award for extraordinary contributions behind the scenes of South African Motorsport.
Six other motor sportsmen were awarded new awards in their various categories for the first time.
Brad Binder - SAGMJ Sportsman of the Year
Peter Du Toit - Colin Watling Award
Joey Evans - Off Track Rider of the Year
Sheldon van der Linde - Circuit Driver of the Year
Jayden Els - Junior Driver of the Year
Brandon Staffen - Junior Rider of the Year
Leeroy Poulter - Off Road Driver of the Year
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Dakar hero, Joey Evans, who was paralysed in a race crash ten years ago and fought back to accomplish the impossible dream of finishing Dakar 2017 on his KTM, took the Off Track Rider of the Year award and double SA Rally and Cross Country Champion, Leeroy Poulter took the Off Track Driver of the Year prize.
Binder was also awarded the Circuit Rider of the Year Award, while European Audi Sport TT Cup racer, Sheldon van der Linde, who won four races — more than any of his TT Cup rivals in 2016 — took the Circuit Driver of the Year Award. 12-year old Rotax World Mini Max Karting Champion, Jayden Els took the Junior Driver of the Year prize and 15-year old KTM 390 Cup winner at home and in the UK, Brandon Staffen, took Junior Rider honours.
All nominees — the above mentioned, as well as circuit drivers Bradley Liebenberg, David Perel, Jonathan Aberdein, Jordan Pepper and Stephen Simpson; circuit rider Jordan Weaving and off-track driver Giniel de Villiers; as well as Colin Watling Award nominees, MSA CEO Adrian Scholtz and Killarney’s WPMC Executive Manager, Des Easom, were awarded Certificates of Recognition on each of their nominations.
“Brad thanks Bridgestone, the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists and its members for this great honour and he congratulates all of tonight’s winners and nominees for their contributions to motorsport while flying the South African flag,” Binder’s longtime advisor, confidant and sponsor Rob Portman said on accepting the Bridgestone SA/SAGMJ Motor Sportsman of the Year on Brad’s behalf.
”Brad is an exceptional talent who comes from a tremendous family with a tremendous story to tell — his ultimate goal is to win the MotoGP World Championship for him , for his family and for South Africa and this award will only help heighten his resolve to pull it off.”
'I'm lost for words'
“I’m lost for words with this magnificent bird in my hand commemorating the great Colin Watling,” Peter du Toit admitted on accepting the Colin Watling Award eagle trophy from the late photographer Watling’s parents, Dennis and Hester.
“I’d like to extend a special word of thanks to all the competitors, their families and supporters who make a facility like Zwartkops work and I would like to dedicate this award to our passionate Zwartkops staff — special thanks to all of you!”
Bridgestone SA’s general manager marketing consumer, Patrick Leslie, explained: “We have been involved for 24 years and motorsport is part of Bridgestone’s DNA and we look forward to continuing and growing our involvement in future.
“Bridgestone extends a special thank you to the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists for the continued success of this great initiative, never mind all that Guild members do for motoring, road safety and motorsport - we need more of you!
“Bridgestone salutes the winners and nominees tonight — not just the motor sportsmen, but also their families, their supporters and all of those behind them who make it all happen.”
SAGMJ deputy chair Eugene Herbert concluded: “The Bridgestone SA / SAGMJ Motor Sportsman of the Year competition has become an integral aspect of every racing year. Motorsport and safety go hand in hand and the Guild would also like to thank SA’s top racers and Bridgestone for their invaluable contribution to road safety.”