Kyalami gears up for nine hours of racing
Bentley, Ferrari and Porsche will form part of a high-powered GT grid in November blockbuster
The Kyalami 9 Hour will make a welcome return to motorsport in November after a 37-year absence.
The event forms part of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge (IntGTC) Powered by Pirelli, which includes the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, California 8 Hours, Total 24 Hours of Spa and Suzuka 10 Hours.
The international motorsport event takes place at Kyalami on November 22-23, and will be family-oriented with live music, DJs, food stalls, and a childrens’ zone.
SRO Motorsports founder and CEO Stéphane Ratel says the addition of Kyalami to the other prestigious 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 having an African part of this championship means that we are now across five continents,” Ratel says.
While the Intercontinental GT Challenge is reserved for FIA GT3 specification supercars, many of its events — including the Kyalami 9 Hour — also feature local championships and cars competing for class honours simultaneously.
They will share the track with IntGTC’s eight full-season manufacturers: Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-AMG, Nissan and Porsche, plus SA’s international GT stars Kelvin van der Linde and Jordan Pepper, who are both battling for outright victory.
The Kyalami 9 Hour dates back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It was hotly contested by classic Porsche racers such as the 550 Spider, 908, 917 and 956, as well as the Ferrari 250 GTO and 512M. Back then champions such as Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass and David Piper raced to victory.
“Kyalami has always been the stage for iconic motorsport events, and to have the Kyalami 9 Hour return here is truly special,” says Kyalami owner Toby Venter. “It also adds a wonderful international event to the calendar that local families can come and enjoy.”
Tickets for the race are priced from R200 and can be bought from www.kyalami9hour.com.
Pepper picks wrong race to shine
SA’s Tasmin Pepper endured a tough weekend in the W Series women’s world championship, spinning out to retire from Saturday’s championship race in Assen, Holland after qualifying a fine sixth.
Pepper however bounced back to finish sixth in Sunday’s non-championship race that started off a grid in reverse championship order.
“What a pity,” she shrugged. “The wrong race counted for points this weekend. We had two races at Assen, the normal championship race on Saturday and a non-championship race on Sunday. Unfortunately Saturday proved really disappointing. I had a great qualifying to put it sixth on the grid and made an awesome start, but I made a mistake into turn one, spun the car around and was hit by another car to end my race there and then.
“Sunday kind of made up for it. I started 12th based on my ninth in the championship from the back, with the leader starting at the back and I made good progress through the field to end up sixth. That was huge fun and made up for a lot of Saturday’s disappointment.”
Pepper heads to the W Series finale at Brands Hatch in England on August 10 sitting ninth in the title chase, one point behind sixth.
Britain's Jamie Chadwick and Dutch rival Beitske Visser will fight for the inaugural all-female W Series title, and the $500,000 winner’s prize, after Finnish driver Emma Kimilainen won at Assen on Saturday.
Championship leader Chadwick finished third in the season’s penultimate round at the Dutch circuit to move 13 points clear of Visser, who was fourth.
The championship uses identical Formula Three cars for all the drivers and is aimed at helping women up the motorsport ladder.
Vettel looks to make amends
After finishing out of the Formula One points with a messy race at Silverstone on July 14, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will be looking to get his mojo back at his home Grand Prix in Hockenheim, Germany, this weekend.
The former four-time world champion’s title challenge has faltered in the face of continued Mercedes dominance and a resurgence by his former team Red Bull.
There have been mistakes from Vettel too. At Silverstone the German crashed into the back of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen while they duelled for third place, leading to the Ferrari driver falling to the back of the field and being given a 10-second penalty, to finish 16th and out of the points.
Verstappen went on to place fifth, his 19th consecutive top-five finish, and looks increasingly like the man with the best chance of taking the fight to world champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The German GP will mark the 200th start for Mercedes in Formula One.
Ferrari’s encouraging preseason form has failed to deliver a win so far this year, though Vettel and his team-mate Charles Leclerc have both come close.
In Canada in June Vettel crossed the line first but was controversially handed a five-second penalty, which dropped him to second, for impeding Hamilton when rejoining the track after a brief foray into the gravel.
In the Austrian GP in June Leclerc looked to be headed for his first victory until Verstappen overtook him in a wheel-banging duel in the race’s closing stages.
The Ferrari drivers are now fourth and fifth in the 2019 title hunt, with Vettel on 123 points and Leclerc on 120, behind Hamilton (223), Valtteri Bottas (184) and Max Verstappen (136).