TOP TEEN DRIVER: South African Jordan Pepper has come out on top from a Young Drivers' Academy programme at Gerotek over September 21-24 2014. Image: Supplied by Motorsport SA
BROEDERSTROOM, North West Province - The first selection event for the 2015 International Automobile Federation's Young Driver Excellence Academy from 17 drivers aged 16-25 from 12 sub-Saharan states has been won by 18-year-old Johannesburg circuit racing driver Jordan Pepper.
The selection, over September 21-24 at the Gerotek vehicle testing and conference facility near Broederstroom, west of Pretoria, was part of six qualifying events around Earth to give as many drivers as possible a chance.
National motorsport authorities were asked for nominations which were then assessed by the federation. To encourage drivers' development, each area was allowed two nominations. Minimum criteria had to meet, one that each driver had demonstrated strong performance in National race competition.
Those selected underwent rigorous exercises to evaluate fitness, driving performance, media expertise, teamwork and psychology. Six were chosen based on their evaluation and test results and then entered a shoot-out on Gerotek’s dynamic vehicle handling track that resulted in the winner being chosen.
Both South Africans made it to the shoot-out, as did both Namibian representatives, Thilo Himmel (23) and Wilro Dippenaar (21); they compete in the SA National Rally championship.
Pepper has won the 2014 Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup in Europe, despite a round remaining. He will now go forward with five other regional winners and selected wild-cards drivers in the 2015 Young Driver Excellence Academy. They will receive a fully- funded training programme to boost their motorsport career while improving driving skills and promoting the principles of safety, fairness and responsibility on and off the track.
One will be declared “Driver of the Year” at the end of the programme.
George Avvakoumides, chairman of Motorsport SA, host of the event for a second consecutive year on behalf of the federation, said: "Pepper is following 2014’s winner Kelvin van der Linde of Johannesburg who went on to win the 2014 Driver of the Year award.
“It shows we have a deep pool of sporting talent in South Africa. Many motorsports people are able to start their career at a very early age here because of the strong structure of local motorsport and the variety of disciplines.
“It is also clear that all the drivers who participated in the African regional selection are winners and each benefited from the experience. Just to have been selected was an achievement of which they can be proud.”