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Calvin Fisher was invited to witness the Sport of Endurance contested by international racers and on local soil no less.

The 9 Hour has returned to South Africa, it’s a Saturday. Race Day. In Jozi at the Kyalami international circuit and before the weekend over I'd be burnt and soaked.

Legends have raced here

Almost all the greats in fact, and not just endurance racers - I also refer Formula One champs in their open wheeled steeds, names such as Jacky Ickx, Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher, too many to mention in fact so I won’t even try.

Kyalami is a 4,522km long circuit, 12m wide and made up of 16 turns, each one storied. The entire length resurfaced in impeccable asphalt, runs anti-clockwise and rolls over 43m of elevation. It’s our land’s premiere racing circuit and I’m stood trackside on a corner baking in the sun, but also beaming with a smile I can’t shake as super powered metal spit, growl and bark as they rush by, making the ground reverberate to the nth.

It’s so good to have this most pedigreed, most prestigious event back on the calendar.

This is not a race report

By now you’ve read the results, you know who won, you know the mainstream stories surrounding the race. But I want to talk about the spectacle from the perspective of a spectator and a man with a camera, standing next to the circuit, watching the cars battle for nine arduous hours.

For nine hours it played out with the intensity of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, the continuous ticking like that of a time bomb could be felt as Porsches, AMGs, BMWs and GTRs (and more) swapped positions at the pointy end of the field.

In the media room filled with larger television screens and exhausted news writers, weary cameramen and photogs slinging massive telephoto lenses over their shoulders like Mjolnir as they refuel their bodies and offload their memory cards and venture once more onto the track, into the pits and along the acres of ‘lawn’ for vantage points that best capture these metal four-wheeled shards making war.

My cue, as I join them on foot often, by shuttle less so - but doing my best to capture the event. By 5pm my neck was as pink as my media bib, and at 5.50pm not only had darkness fallen but I was drenched, my transparent poncho protecting my camera and I, whilst also performing a lightshow by refracting and bouncing the circuit’s many light sources. I was a glistening disco ball by the time I returned to the sanctuary of the media room to warm up on coffee and swap memory cards for the last time.

The closer you got to the track tarmac, the louder the ticking became, and the later it got the fiercer it became. That is, until the soaked circuit became a hostile environment sending cars off the track in slippery fashion until the Porsche 911 safety car was summoned to slow down the field.

Two hours later, with the ticking unabated, and just minutes left on the clock, the safety car retreated to let the field race till the end. And race they did, until the embers all but died at 10pm when the collective shoulders of the world’s motoring media could finally slump in relief.

Porsche took the title and the race, despite a collision between two of the front runners. But the real winners were the spectators – trackside and those watching the televised and screened event all over the world.

Me, I emerged on the other side visibly shook but absolutely hell bent on returning. And that’s about all I have to say other than, please enjoy the gallery.

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