An all-black African driver crew will contest the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour for the first time in the event’s history when Xolile Letlaka, Tschops Sipuka and Philip Kekana tackle Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli’s season finale.
The trio’s Into Africa Mining Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo is targeting national class honors along with several other local entries that usually compete in the SA Endurance Series.
Letlaka and Sipuka lie third in their domestic Endurance standings despite missing the opening round after claiming two victories and a second place finish from four starts.
Forty-eight-year-old businessman Letlaka became the first man of color to win a round of the Endurance series last year, and on his GT3 debut to boot, after teaming up with Charl Arangies.
“It will probably be one of the proudest days of my life,” said Letlaka. “Fielding a team with two drivers who grew up in rural villages in the Eastern Cape and one from Soweto speaks to my motto of ‘we lift as we rise’.”
Sipuka needs no introduction to South African motorsport fans. He won the Polo Cup title in 2002 and 2003 before progressing into production cars in a factory-backed Audi.
After a seven-year absence from the sport, he returned to GTC racing in 2019, winning the East London round. The 43-year-old has also raced a Mercedes Supertruck and tested an Indy Lights car during his varied career.
“It will be an honor to showcase ourselves on an international stage,” he said. “Consistency and speed will be our watchwords. The Kyalami 9 Hour is going to be a very special moment for our team.”
Kekana is both excited and nervous about his GT3 racing debut; having been out of the sport for a long time, he is relishing his test session ahead of the big race.
“It’s going to be a steep learning curve for me; I have to become accustomed to the car – understand how the machine works and how far I can push it. I was very excited when Xolile called to offer me the drive. I’ve been training hard since then,” said the 55-year-old Sowetan resident.
Kekana started racing Group N cars in 1997 before winning the title in 2002 and hopes the Into Africa Mining team will inspire young black children to take a bigger interest in motorsport, especially from an engineering perspective.