Kyalami 9-hour reinvented

No fewer than 30 GT3 cars will take to the tarmac on November 22 and 23

With the 2019 Kyalami nine-hour race less than two months away, the organisers have released the event’s provisional entry list. When the legendary race returns to our shores for the first time in 37 years, no fewer than 30 GT3 cars will take to the tarmac on November 22 and 23.

Twenty will compete for points counting towards the world’s only global GT3 championship. The season finale of the 2019 Pirelli Intercontinental GT Challenge will see the series’ eight full-season manufacturers – Audi Sport, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche, joined by Aston Martin and Lamborghini.

LOCAL INFLUENCE. One of the Bentleys will be driven by South African Jordan Pepper.

Mercedes-AMG will head to South Africa leading both the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships and will enter four cars under the umbrellas of the GruppeM and SPS Automotive Performance teams.

For local enthusiasts, the main interest should centre around the Audi Sport team, whose leading R8 LMS GT3 entry will be in the hands of South African hero Kelvin van der Linde and two European partners. A second R8 LMS GT3 will be entered by the Land Motorsport team.

Three more South Africans – Van der Linde brothers Kelvin and Sheldon and Jordan Pepper – will be part of the respective Bentley, Audi and BMW factory teams at Kyalami. Other drivers in championship-legit GT3 cars will be David Perel, Gennaro Bonafede and Michael van Rooyen.

Porsche, the only marque capable of beating Mercedes-AMG to the manufacturers’ crown, will run four Pro-class cars and 12 factory drivers under the banners of the GPX Racing, KUS 75 Bernhard, Dinamic Motorsport and Frikadelli Racing teams. Bentley, Nissan and Honda will be represented by their full-season teams, while BMW’s Intercontinental commitment increases to three, thanks to a second Walkenhorst-run M6 joining Suzuka 10-hours pole winners, Team Schnitzer.

Ferrari’s Intercontinental hopes will rest with Rinaldi Racing, while three Aston Martin Vantages will head to South Africa courtesy of Blancpain GT Series regulars R-Motorsport and Garage 59.

Three South African squads have also entered – Stradale Motorsport, Pablo Clark Racing and Team Perfect Circle. Backing the main event on track, are combined races for Falken Polo Cup and Motomart VW challenge cars, plus static displays and circuit runs for classic and rare cars from the 1960s and ‘70s, including Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Finally, the Soweto Drift 60-minute challenge, in support of the Soweto Drift Academy, will see six of South Africa’s finest car spinners push the famous BMW 325i to its limits.

The action will be supplemented off track on November 22 and 23 when 18 of South Africa’s biggest DJs, bands and artists will perform during a nine-hour concert. They will include internationally acclaimed DJ Black Coffee, plus local stars Shekhinah, Sun-el Musician and Prime Circle.

South Africa’s first endurance races were held in 1958 to 1960 at a circuit at the Grand Central Airport near Midrand before moving to Kyalami in 1961. The 9-hour event was a mainstay until the 1980s.

The race was last staged in 1982 as part of the FIA World Sportscar Championship, when it was won by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in a Rothmans Porsche 956. Reserve tickets for all three days at kyalami9hour.com.

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