Kyalami 9-Hour going ahead minus fans

Leading the M-Sport Bentley team will be South African Jordan Pepper, in the works Bentley Continental GT3. Picture: Deve Ledbitter.

Covid-19 has nullified the hopes of spectator attendance.

There was good, and not so good, news about this year’s Kyalami 9-Hour race last weekend. The good news is that the race will take place at Kyalami, from Thursday 10 December to Saturday 12 December. As you read this, 12 GT3 race cars and tons of Pirelli racing tyres are en-route to Kyalami.

The official programme of events has been confirmed, as has a preliminary entry list, plus lists of race officials, time keepers, scrutineers, marshals and medics. All of the above was achieved against almost insurmountable odds, since the Kyalami organisers are faced with massive and unique logistical challenges, directly attributable to international Covic-19 quarantine and travel restrictions.

The bad news is the fact that, at this time, the chances of spectators being allowed are zero. That is the direct result of local Covid-19 regulations regarding spectators at events. To accommodate spectators at the 9-Hour, the organisers would have to keep them in isolated little groups, each complete with its own toilets, food provisions, medics and security.

Team Honda will enter this Motul Honda NSX GT3. Picture: Dave Ledbitter.

The inhabitants of each little group would have to be prohibited from leaving their specific areas, visiting other groups or going to other vantage points around the track. To enforce that and police it would be virtually impossible, not to mention hugely unpopular with spectators. Some good news is that the entire race will be live streamed and shown on one of the DStv SuperSport channels. There will be good reasons to watch it.

Heading up the entry lit will be two works M-Sport Bentley Continental models, one of which will have South African Jordan Pepper behind the wheel one-third of the time. Other South Africans in international works cars will be Sheldon van der Linde (Walkenhorst BMW M6 GT3) and Kelvin van der Linde (Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3).

The BMW equipe will field two M6 GT3 cars, the Audi team four R8 LMS models and Team Honda a single Honda NSX GT3. The all-South African Hack Lechner Racing team will enter a Porsche 911 GT3R for Paul Hack, Andre’ Bezuidenhout and a third- yet to be announced, local driver.

Sheldon van der Linde will tackle the 9-Hour with a Walkenhorst BMW M6 GT3. Picture: Dave Ledbitter.

Activities at Kyalami will start with two day practice sessions and a night session on Thursday, 10 December. Friday, 11 December will see a morning practice session, followed by an afternoon qualifying session and a grid shoot-out for the top 10 cars. The race will start at noon on Saturday, finishing at 9 pm. Supporting events will include two races for VW Supa Cup, Polo Cup and Challenge cars.

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