We're just weeks away from the Kyalami 9 Hour and with it the return of GT Racing to South Africa. Here's why we're excited.
When is it? 23rd November 2019.
What is it exactly? Nothing less than the final round of the Intercontinental GT Championship - now truly international with Africa onboard as the 5th continent on their calendar.
The Kyalami race will incorporate machinery from local racing classes that will join the other nine international teams, with 16 South African drivers in the roster - meaning that local talent will have their time to shine on a global stage. As a result, we’ll have the pleasure of witnessing local favourites Kelvin van der Linde in for Audi and Jordan Pepper in a Bentley as well as others including Gennaro Bonafede take on international challengers from BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan, Porsche and many more.
The historic Kyalami 9 Hours makes a welcome return to motorsport after 37 years of absence, and joins the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Suzuka 10 Hours, California 8 Hours and Total 24 Hours of Spa for the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) series. "Everyone should have a Kyalami story " says Toby Venter, which he certainly does himself, being the prestigious racetrack’s owner. Conceived in 1961, it quickly became the land's premiere race circuit and a national icon on which great names such as Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, Jack Brabham and of course our own Jodie Scheckter would win Formula 1 championships.
Yet GT racing has eluded the circuit since 1983. But no more as this event promises to be a full weekend of scrutineering, practicing and racing. The latter being for 9 hours at a time, naturally, well into the night. There'll be classic race cars on display, a classic and exotic car parade plus a go kart track to keep visitors enthralled. Also in attendance, the Soweto drift academy will be sending their top spinners to entertain the crowds. The organizers are also promising great musical entertainment including the likes of Black Coffee, Prime Circle, Mi Casa and more.
IGTC boss Stephane Ratel believes that the addition of Kyalami to the other prestigious GT3 races on the calendar is a dream come true. “I’ve spent years trying to get this African leg of the series off the ground. To finally have it all locked in is a massive achievement and one that I am absolutely delighted about,” says Ratal. “Having an African part of this championship means that we are now across five continents. We are truly a global event and we look forward to November when the thrilling sounds of the vehicles light up Kyalami for nine hours.”
Toby Venter further added that “When Stephane came to me with this suggestion, I didn’t hesitate in letting him know that I was keen to get involved,” says Venter. “Kyalami has always been the staging ground for iconic motorsport events, and to have the Kyalami 9 Hours return here is rather special. It also adds a wonderful international event to the calendar that local families can come and enjoy."
The Intercontinental GT Challenge is set to explode onto the Kyalami GP Circuit from 21 to 23rd November 2019 with great family entertainment for every generation. Carshop will be there to cover it. If you'd like more motorsport content, please let us know and we'll get right on it.
What about F1 at Kyalami?
Bought in auction in 2014 and made financially viable with proper conference halls and infrastructure, restaurants and more, as well as a complete overhaul of the track itself to bring it in line with other world-class racetracks, Kyalami has never looked healthier. To quote Toby once more, "F1 is desperate to have an African event. Who knows?" Implying that the success and support of the GT Championship event might hold the key to bringing the world's premiere motorsport championship to Africa.
The GT Challenge will enjoy Pan-African television coverage, plus be streamed live all over the world - yes, with in-car cameras for ultimate immersion. With 30 cars confirmed, and maybe two more in the wings and a roster of over 90 pro drivers it certainly looks to be every bit the extravaganza. And you can add to that over 500 motorsport people flocking to South Africa just to cover this event.
The city of JHB has also officially endorsed this event. "The social economic impact of this event is substantial" says Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg. Indeed, with the potential to create 17,000 jobs to serve this massive event. They hope to attract 45,000 people per day, with logistics including park and rides, and uber-friendly drop off zones. The organizers will be working with the city and private teams in an effort to bolster the infrastructure to make everything go off without a hitch. Word of advice, patience will be a virtue on the day as no amount of planning can eradicate long queues.
Whether you love or hate E-sports, there's no denying its appeal nor its usefulness as a means of training for upcoming talent. And there's no more influential and important sim than Asetta Corsa. Which makes the fact that they have just recently laser measured the Kyalami circuit for inclusion in future updates. That's right, the legendary track will indeed be going digital.