SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel believes the revival of the Kyalami 9 Hours could “help develop” the sports car racing market in South Africa, with local entries set to take part in the Intercontinental GT Challenge round.
The Nov. 1-3 event, which will close out the 2019 IGTC season, will feature a National class for older GT3, Cup cars and local machinery, alongside current-generation GT3 and GT4 cars that will be largely run by either full-season or European teams.
Despite it being a year away, Ratel said they are already “full on” in planning for the event at the recently renovated facility.
“Patrica [Kiefer, SRO COO] is going with Sophie [Peyrat, IGTC series manager] in a couple of weeks,” he told Sportscar365. “We’re working with a great event promoter with great experience in South Africa. Toby Venter, the owner of the track, is fully behind it.
“It’s great. We’re bringing back motorsport in the country and racing to a new audience.”
Ratel said they are focused on serving three different groups of entrants in the race, meaning the event will not just be focused to IGTC teams.
“We will address the manufacturers that compete in Intercontinental, the European teams that want to go for a great end-of-season event, and the local teams,” he said.
“The transport is quite fast and reasonably priced [from Europe] because you don’t have to pass through the Suez canal. You go straight down. It doesn’t take a long time; three or four weeks and you’re there by container.
“We have local teams and some cars. There will be some older GT3s and Cup cars but there are cars. We’ll have a national podium for these cars.
“All together, it should be a decent grid.”
While South Africa currently sees a limited GT3 market, with several previous-generation cars such as the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 competing in the Mopar South African Endurance Series, the nation’s flagship championship, Ratel is hoping to help grow the numbers over time.
Manufacturers could take advantage of selling its cars to teams post-race, similar to the model Bentley developed with its new-generation Continental GT3.
Ratel, however, is banking on the potential long-term growth of GT4 in the market, largely for its lower cost entry point.
“I think the first category to be developed in South Africa is GT4, which is easier at the start. But I hope some teams will want to buy GT3 cars as well,” he said.
“On the [production car] market, which I didn’t know initially, it’s particularly active for the likes of BMW, Mercedes. On the back of it, maybe we can help develop more motorsport in South Africa.”