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SRO “Looking at the Situation Closely” for Kyalami 9H

Ratel says “everybody is geared up” for Kyalami 9H as SRO continues to monitor event…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

SRO Motorsports Group is “looking at the situation closely” for the Kyalami 9 Hour as the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli organizer continues to monitor the status of its planned race in South Africa later this year.

Ratel told reporters at the Nürburgring that SRO is working towards staging its IGTC season finale as planned on December 2-4 but noted that nothing is set in stone yet.

SRO is aiming to confirm the status of its upcoming race events including Kyalami and the 2022 IGTC season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in October.

The South African travel situation is improving, with international arrivals currently not needing to quarantine if they provide a negative PCR test result.

Some European nations including France and Germany no longer require vaccinated individuals to isolate upon their return from South Africa, however the country remains on the United Kingdom’s ‘red list’ which requires all returning arrivals to observe a 10-day hotel quarantine regardless of vaccination status.

SRO had also been monitoring a period of civil unrest in South Africa during the summer but Ratel has since described that situation as “completely OK” from a race organization perspective.

“Of course we are still looking at the situation closely, with variants and red zones for travel,” said Ratel.

“The moment you leave Europe, you are never completely secure. We just need to look at the evolution, but I think the grid is stronger than it was last year.

“There are still a lot of conversations, so let’s wait and go to Indianapolis first.

“Indy is looking strong so we are very happy with that. Then we will see from Indy who is ready to [do Kyalami].

“There were teams who were supposed to go and do Macau, but since that’s not happening they say they are going to do ‘this and that’.

“It’s been much more unstable than it’s been up to 2019. We were happy in 2019, it was good. The world was easier.

“We will release everything by October, by Barcelona. Still now we are in a complicated world.”

Ratel indicated that he wants to avoid discussing potential replacement race scenarios if Kyalami is suddenly unable to go ahead due to travel restriction changes.

Teams competing in the IGTC are set to ship their cars and other equipment directly from the Indianapolis 8 Hour on Oct. 17. There is a seven-week gap between the IGTC races.

“We have a plan B but it’s too early to mention it,” Ratel explained.

“We have a company in South Africa that promotes this race and everybody is geared up to do it. I’m not going to start talking about plan Bs because that demotivates everybody.

“Of course, you need to have options in your mind, but for the moment we are working with teams to get to Kyalami, which I believe is a unique event on the international calendar.

“Kyalami is a beautiful circuit and it deserves to work, so we keep on. We proved it last year, which was a bit of a challenge to go there. We did it, so I hope this year we can do the same.

“We have to go through the storm and preserve an event which I think has great potential.”

One of SRO’s objectives is to have more local teams taking part in the Kyalami 9 Hour this year, after only two lineups included South African drivers during the 2020 edition.

The inaugural IGTC race at the former South African Grand Prix venue two years ago attracted four cars in the National class in addition to the usual fleet of top GT3 teams.

“Our partners in South Africa have worked a lot on that to get more local teams and really get a national class to be there,” said Ratel. “Let’s see what the end result will be.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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