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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Ratel Still Planning Kyalami 9H Amid Manufacturer Uncertainty

SRO pushing ahead with IGTC planning amid challenging logistics, manufacturer commitments…

Photo: Dirk Bogarts/SRO

Stephane Ratel says this year’s Kyalami 9 Hour is “still on” despite complications from several GT3 manufacturers that are currently unable to provide factory drivers or support for the event due to company-wide travel restrictions.

The South African enduro, which is planned to serve as the fourth and final round of the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season, is currently scheduled for Dec. 10-12.

“The event in itself is confirmed,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “We have a potential event and we have a potential grid. Now we will see the manufacturers’ positions in regards to sending drivers.

“South Africa seems to be safe now. They went down to Grade 1.

“I think there shouldn’t be any problem getting there. But what we saw lately is that some manufacturers are very cautious. So we need to see there.

“The teams in general want to go. It’s only the manufacturers and their drivers [that have a problem].”

Ratel said the situation is “exactly” like last weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour, which saw no factory representation from Porsche or Mercedes-AMG.

Head of Mercedes-AMG Stefan Wendl has already told Sportscar365 they don’t plan to send any support to Kyalami.

“They all seem to have company policies where they can’t travel,” Ratel said.

“It’s true that before we could have been concerned about the situation in South Africa when Europe was better.

“Now South Africa is good and it’s Europe which is not doing very well recently.

“We’re working on it. Nobody thought [the Indianapolis 8 Hour] would happen and we made it happen.

“We definitely want Kyalami to happen because it’s a great event and we have a very motivated promoter. Everybody wants it.”

“Lots of Uncertainties” for 2021 Bathurst 12H

Ratel admitted February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which is due to kick off the 2021 IGTC season, is in jeopardy, although would not outright confirm the event’s cancelation due to Australia’s current travel restrictions.

This is likely due to the fact that SRO Motorsports Group is not in a position to comment, as it only supports the event with IGTC entries, with Supercars Events serving as the race promoter.

“There’s a lot of uncertainties,” Ratel said. “That’s what we can at least say [about Bathurst]. The world is uncertain, everything. What is true one day is not true tomorrow.

“We live in a very uncertain world. Us with motorsport we’re just doing the best we can.”

When asked if SRO would consider pushing back the start of the 2021 IGTC season to the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July and ending at Bathurst in 2022, Ratel said “everything is possible.”

“It’s true that when WEC went to this winter season I really thought it was awkward,” he said.

“I’m not very much in favor of that. It’s true that it would resolve the problem of [technical] regulations at Bathurst. But then you become champion in February. When do you celebrate?

“Especially when you are addressing yourselves to manufacturers, they’d like the trophy at the end of the year.

“It’s a rhythm in motorsport that’s a bit difficult to change but we’ll definitely discuss it.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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