Midrand – Kyalami got local motorsport fans revved up back in July when it announced that the iconic 9 Hour endurance race was set to return in November, after a 37-year hiatus, and now additional details have been revealed as the countdown commences.
On Tuesday the organisers released a provisional entry list for the event, which takes place from November 21 to 23. The main 9 Hour race will get underway at midday on Saturday November 23, with various practice and qualifying sessions preceding it on Thursday and Friday.
30 supercars tussle for victory
The Pirelli Intercontinental GT Challenge event, which will also be the season finale, promises a field of 30 GT3 cars from eight full-season manufacturers.
What this means for fans is a feast of supercars fighting for dominance on track, including Porsche 911 GT3s, Ferrari 488s, Audi R8s, Bentley Continental GTs, Mercedes-AMG GTs, Honda NSXs, and Nissan GT-Rs and more.
20 of the 30 entries will compete for points counting towards the world’s only global GT3 championship.
Mercedes-AMG currently leads both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships, and again fields four entries at Kyalami.
On the driver front, Maxi Buhk currently leads Raffaele Marciello by three points, and with both once again sharing GruppeM’s entry alongside Maro Engel, only the former can mathematically take the crown. Meanwhile, victory for fellow title contender Maxi Goetz – who shares one of two SPS Automotive Performance entries with Luca Stolz and Yelmer Buurman – would be enough to clinch the title regardless of Buhk’s placing.
The same situation applies to Frederic Vervisch who also heads to Kyalami six points behind Buhk.
Porsche is the only outfit that’s capable of beating Mercedes-AMG to the manufacturers’ crown this year, although it is quite a tall order with the former trailing the latter by 22 points, with only 43 available.
South African squads
But the Kyalami 9 Hour is not just about international competitors – three South African squads have entered: Stradale Motorsport, Pablo Clark Racing and Team Perfect Circle.
What’s more, three South African drivers (Jordan Pepper as well as Van der Linde brothers Kelvin and Sheldon) will form part of the Bentley, Audi and BMW factory rosters at the event. They’ll be joined by compatriots David Perel, Gennaro Bonafede and Ignatius Michael Von Rooyen in #IntGTC-nominated entries. Rising local talent Saul Hack is also part of the mix.
A proud history
The Kyalami 9 Hour was a hotly contested, and spectated, event back in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, where legendary racers such as Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, David Piper and John Love raced fearlessly to victory. Love won the first 9 Hour in 1961 at the wheel of a Porsche 911 Spyder.
The original Kyalami was regarded as one of the most challenging circuits of its day, and also hosted numerous Formula One races.
Entertainment for the whole family
While the petrolheads will be glued to the racing action, organisers have also lined up plenty of off-track entertainment, including a special Kyalami 9 Hour concert that includes 18 of South Africa’s biggest DJs, bands and artists, including Black Coffee, Shekhinah and Prime Circle.