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'New' Kyalami turns five

Q&A with Toby Venter: 9-Hour returns after 37-year absence as 'New' Kyalami turns 5.

Why the return of the Kyalami 9 Hour is such a big deal for SA

2019-10-02 10:15

Janine Van der Post

Kyalami 9 Hour

#54 Dinamic Motorsport ITA Porsche 911 GT3 R,Track. Image: Kyalami 9 Hour

Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit has become the pinnacle of motorsport venues in South Africa. A few months ago, news broke that the legendary Intercontinental GTC endurance event would return to South Africa after a 37-year absence since the first endurance race in 1961. 

The Kyalami 9 Hour is back. The excitement is, to say the least, monumental, and the enormity of it will only really be fathomed on the weekend of the event, because once the rest of the world knows what South Africa has to offer, many good things will be in store for local motorsport - much more than anyone could possibly imagine.

On Tuesday, October 1, the official press conference was held at Kyalami with a few exciting announcements about what's in store for the occasion.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba announced that the event would officially be endorsed by the City. The Kyalami 9 Hour would return every year, for the next five years, and this would have significant economic benefits for Joburg.


 

Mashaba also said that the event would see 17 000 people employed over the three-day event from November 21 to 23. 

A colossal 120 000 spectators are expected to be in attendance. 

Adam Brown, one of the race organisers, says that more than 500 international media would be in attendance to showcase what South Africa can bring to the world stage in terms of motorsport.

Kyalami 9 hour



Since Toby Venter came to its rescue in 2010 when the historic racetrack was going to be auctioned off, the grounds have been transformed into a world-class venue. Venter says, on the day of the track auction, he found himself really only bidding against the bank and, if he hadn't, our historic racetrack would have been turned into a housing development or business park by now. 


The new Kyalami Circuit has been in operation for five years and its business module is finally paying off.

Venter has turned Kyalami, not just into an impeccable venue, but has made it a home for South African motorsport.

His aim was always to bring major events such as this back to South Africa. 

Venter has turned Kyalami into a Grade A racetrack, even the FIA has been to visit the grounds to talk Formula 1. The only reason it most probably hasn't happened yet is that it would cost millions to host the event in SA again.

But gosh, wouldn't that be a dream come true? 

Brown also announced that the event would be televised, with 18 hours of live coverage by SuperSport, or it could be watched on the global live stream online. 

Gennaro Bonafede, one if SA's star racers who currently drives in the Blancpain GT Series, also announced that he would be partnered with Michael van Rooyen in the car. He also said that, out of the 90 drivers, 16 were South African.

Venter added that there are currently 30 cars entered for the endurance event and, while entries are closed, there might be an addition of two more cars. 

Three South African squads have also entered: Stradale Motorsport, Pablo Clark Racing and Team Perfect Circle. Three more South Africans – Jordan Pepper, plus Van der Linde brothers Kelvin and Sheldon – are all part of Bentley, Audi and BMW factory rosters at Kyalami, where they’re joined by compatriots David Perel, Gennaro Bonafede and Ignatius Michael van Rooyen in #IntGTC-nominated entries. Lechner Racing also includes rising local talent, Saul Hack, in their driver line-up.

In honour of the history of the Kyalami 9 Hour – which first took place at the circuit in 1961 – classic and rare cars from the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes Benz and BMW, will be on display and take part in a circuit parade.




Stay tuned to Wheels24, as we will be giving away sets of double tickets over the next few weeks for this amazing event!

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