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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Kyalami Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first notebook from Kyalami ahead of this weekend’s IGTC finale…

Photo: John Dagys

***Two cars from the initial entry list have withdrawn, resulting in a 28-car field for this weekend’s Kyalami 9 Hour. Kenny Habul pulled his SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which he was set to share with Thomas Jaeger and Bernd Schneider, while Rinaldi Racing’s second car for David Perel, Denis Bulatov and Rinat Salikhov hasn’t made the trip either.

***Rinaldi still has one Ferrari 488 GT3, the only such car in the field, entered under the WTM Racing banner for Wochenspiegel Team Monschau, with which it usually fields cars at the Nürburgring. Local driver Perel has moved to this car, replacing Georg Weiss alongside Leonard Weiss and Jochen Krumbach.

***The KÜS Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R and Walkenhorst Motorsport’s Pro-Am BMW M6 GT3 arrived at the track late, getting in on Wednesday afternoon. Both cars’ containers took longer than expected to reach Johannesburg.

***The scheduled group photo was canceled due to a thunderstorm that arrived mid-afternoon. Storms are expected most afternoons this weekend due to the summer climate, with otherwise dry conditions and temperatures of up to 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) 

***A total of 16 South African drivers will take part this weekend, including factory drivers Kelvin van der Linde, Sheldon van der Linde and Jordan Pepper. David Perel is at Rinaldi Racing while Walkenhorst has Michael von Rooyen and Gennaro Bonafede in its Pro-Am car and Saul Hack will drive for Lechner Racing.

***The Lechner car is owned by Hack, one of Lechner’s Porsche Carrera Cup and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup drivers. Team manager Walter Lechner told Sportscar365 that a decision on future plans with the GT3 car will be made between the team and Hack after this weekend. The Austrian operation has so far only completed a three-lap shakedown of the chassis.

***Porsche test driver Lars Kern has joined the Lechner effort this weekend, replacing Al Faisal Al Zubair, who was originally listed alongside Hack and Dylan Pereira.

***Porsche GT3 project manager Sebastian Golz told Sportscar365 they have sold a second 2019-spec Porsche GT3 car in South Africa and sees the market expanding in the years to come due to the presence of this race.

***Three local teams have entirely South African lineups, and the contingent includes a Porsche 997 GT3 R from Team Perfect Circle, a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Stradale Motorsport and a Ferrari F458 Italia GT3 for Pablo Clark Racing. The latter is being run with support from Kessel Racing, while Stradale’s Lamborghini is a pre-Evo model, despite an Evo car being listed on the entry list.

***Both the Ferrari and Lamborghini are competing in the Group National class, for what’s believed to be cars not running to the latest GT3 specification and SRO regulations.

***Team Perfect Circle’s Porsche is the same chassis that took David Ashburn and Trackspeed to the 2010 British GT Championship title and is believed to have also been driven by Richard Westbrook in 2013 before being upgraded to 2014 spec. The car, which will be driven by Andre Bezuidenhout, Franco Scribante and Silvio Scribante, is being run by UK-based Simpson Motorsport, which in recent years ran Ginetta G57 and G58 prototypes.

***Manthey Racing, which is supporting Frikadelli Racing’s car for Dennis Olsen, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy, has a spare Porsche 911 GT3 R chassis here this weekend. Although the car is carrying the Frikadelli Racing livery, the parts will be available to all Porsche teams.

***Ten of the 17 drivers that took part in last weekend’s FIA GT World Cup in Macau, including the top five finishing drivers from the Main Race, are competing in Kyalami. Most drivers and manufacturer support staff flew directly from Hong Kong to Johannesburg, while others spent a day home in Europe. 

***The list includes GT World Cup Champion Raffaele Marciello, Laurens and Dries Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Augusto Farfus, Christopher Haase, Kelvin van der Linde, Maro Engel, Kevin Estre and Alexandre Imperatori.

***Former Super GT ace Joao Paulo de Oliveira is making his IGTC debut in the No. 35 KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 alongside Katsumasa Chiyo and Joshua Burdon, as a late addition to the lineup.

***Recently crowned IMSA DPi champion Dane Cameron is making only his second international start this weekend, his first since the 2014 Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, where he shared a Schubert Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 with Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Paul Dalla Lana and Claudia Hurtgen.

***This weekend’s event marks the first international sports car race at Kyalami since 2000 when a round of the FIA Sports Car Championship took place as a two-hour, 30-minute race, which was won by Ralf Kellners and Gary Formato in a Kremer Racing Lola B98/K2000 Ford.

***Of note, SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel finished on the Am class podium in the Lamborghini Supertrophy support series race that weekend.

***The last nine-hour race held at Kyalami, meanwhile, dates back to 1982, which was won by Jacky Ickx and Jochen Mass in a Rothmans Porsche 956. FIA World Sportscar Championship points-paying rounds were held in 1983 and 1984 but were run to 1,000 km distances.

***A parade, which would have taken cars from the circuit to the Mall of Africa in an eight-mile drive through city streets, was initially considered but never materialized. A SRO spokesperson told Sportscar365 that it’s their desire to feature pre-event parades at all IGTC rounds next year.

***FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu will be in attendance this weekend. Kyalami is understood to be on the shortlist of potential replacements for February’s Six Hours of Sao Paulo, which is in question due to financial issues with the promoter and local government. 

***The WEC has also suggested interest in the South African circuit for the future, with Kyalami having been listed on a questionnaire sent to teams for possible new events for the 2020-21 schedule or beyond.

***Track action kicks off on Thursday with a pair of two-hour paid test sessions followed by a 90-minute Free Practice, which will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. local time.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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