Kyalami nine-hour race revived as IGTC round

Kyalami nine-hour race revived as IGTC round
Jul 27, 2018, 5:07 PM

Ex-Formula 1 venue Kyalami will join the Intercontinental GT Challenge in 2019 with the revival of the South African track's historic nine-hour sportscar fixture.

The event will put Africa on the IGTC calendar for the first time, joining the Spa 24 Hours, the Bathurst 12 Hours, the Suzuka 10 Hours and the California 8 Hours at Laguna Seca.

The Kyalami 9 Hours, which was an important sportscar fixture in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, will be the IGTC finale on November 3, with the current curtain-closer at Laguna moving to either March or April.

The addition of Kyalami to the other prestigious GT3 enduros on the calendar was described by IGTC boss Stephane Ratel as a "dream come true".

He first outlined his ambition of expanding the IGTC onto a fifth continent two years ago.

"I was with an old friend who is from South Africa and I told him I would love to go to Kyalami, and he said, 'you can call Toby Venter, the owner of the track," said Ratel.

"I went to see him and the circuit is superb – it would be sad to have such a tool and no international event."

Venter, who is the South African Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini importer, said that it was his intention to "try to build the event back to its former glories".

Ratel explained that like the Laguna event the Kyalami race would not be exclusively open to GT3 machinery and would incorporate machinery from local classes.

The 9 Hours was first held at Kyalami in 1961 and continued until 1973.

The fixture subsequently became a six-hour event and then a 1000km race before the nine-hour duration was restored for 1981 and '82.

Subsequent Kyalami world sportscar rounds reverted to 1000km distance.

Kyalami 9 Hours winners include Jacky Ickx, Jochen Mass, Reinhold Joest, Brian Redman and Clay Regazzoni.

New World Challenge title

Start action
Start action

Photo by: Andrea Lorenzina

A World Challenge title for manufacturers will be awarded by the Stephane Ratel Organisation from next year.

Points will be allocated on the results of customer teams, rather than factory entries, competing in SRO's major international GT3 championships.

The championships in which manufacturers can score points towards the new title will be the Blancpain GT Series, both the Sprint and Endurance Cups, in Europe, the Blancpain GT Series Asia and the Pirelli World Challenge in North America.

Ratel said: "We have an IGTC for direct manufacturer competition, so the idea is to make a global challenge for customer racing and have a trophy for the best customer racing programme."

He stressed that his idea is not yet to be fully formed and that he will be working on the concept ahead of an full announcement at the BGTS Endurance Cup finale at the end of September.

SRO is using the World Challenge name for the new trophy after expanding its stake in the PWC to a majority shareholding in May.

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Author Gary Watkins
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