Mercedes-AMG’s hopes of winning the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli manufacturers’ title look slim with two of its three factory-backed cars now out of contention in the Kyalami 9 Hour.
Tristan Vautier ran off track as the race reached one-third distance, sending the Strakka Racing car into the tire barriers with an apparent brake failure.
This came after a first-lap retirement for Maxi Buhk’s GruppeM machine, leaving only SPS Automotive Performance’s Pro car and a Silver Cup Black Falcon car still running for Mercedes.
Reigning IGTC drivers’ champion Vautier shared the Strakka Mercedes with Gary Paffett and Lewis Williamson.
GPX Racing and Porsche still lead the race with Michael Christensen currently out front in the No. 20 car that won the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July.
Two of Porsche’s other IGTC-nominated cars, the Frikadelli Racing and Dinamic Motorsport cars, are third and fourth, with Walkenhorst Motorsport’s BMW M6 GT3 second after three hours of running.
Vautier’s accident brought out the second Full Course Yellow period of the race and came shortly after the restart from the first, which had led to another separate incident for the Frenchman.
He went wide off track and rejoined into traffic, having brief contact with Nick Tandy’s Frikadelli Porsche just a couple of minutes before he ended up in the barrier.
Paffett had moved that car up the order earlier having elected to go off-strategy by not taking new tires at the first stop. Bentley Team M-Sport did the same for Jordan Pepper and two drivers ran first and second for a while.
The first FCY and safety car period was called for the local Stradale Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 hitting the barrier.