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The Kyalami 9 Hour is back!

The iconic Kyalami 9 Hour proudly hosted by City of Joburg, and in partnership with South African Tourism, Gauteng Tourism Authority, and Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation makes a welcome return to the international motorsport arena for the second year running. This historic event has been given the green light from the South African Government and will race off at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Midrand from 10-12 December 2020.

The Kyalami 9 Hour becomes the first major international motorsport event to light up the country this year since Covid-19 put a halt to all events in March. The race, which once again stages the final round of this season’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli campaign, returned to South Africa for the first time after 37 years in 2019 and was a resounding success as the crème of global GT racing showcased their skills.

2020’s championship decider features several world-class South African drivers who first honed their skills at Kyalami. Jordan Pepper – who grew up less than 20 minutes away – has an opportunity to claim the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ title on home soil with Bentley after winning the season opener at Bathurst in February. The 24-year-old and his M-Sport co-drivers Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet are just three points adrift of current leaders Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche), who claimed victory at Spa in late October.

Two more local talents are also amongst this year’s victory contenders. Van der Linde brothers Kelvin (Audi) and Sheldon (BMW) are both factory drivers who contested last year’s 9 Hour, and return eager to claim their first Intercontinental wins of the season. Sheldon, the younger by three years, has spent 2020 contesting Germany’s DTM championship but now steps into the M6 GT3 that won at Indianapolis in early October. Kelvin, meanwhile, requires just one more victory to become the joint youngest driver in Intercontinental GT Challenge history. His WRT-entered Audi will feature a special South African art-inspired livery next weekend.

Although this year’s event will be significantly different due to the strict Covid-19 protocols, Kyalami 9 Hour CEO, Tom Pearson-Adams, is thrilled to have the race back on the international motorsport calendar after a successful event in 2019.

“This has been a serious team effort under such trying circumstances. Kudos to Stephane and his team at SRO who have managed to maintain the Intercontinental GT Challenge this year. To South African Tourism, City of Joburg, Gauteng Tourism Authority and Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, thank you for the support. The incredible venue that is “Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit” is as always, a pleasure to work with such an iconic track. My partners for their unwavering commitment and support throughout the pandemic year, a year of challenges for all of us. A special recognition to our broadcast partner, SuperSport who have been incredibly supporting during this very chanllenging time. Finally, the huge team of professionals that come from the events industry that we rely on to deliver this truly international signature event. We are extremely proud to be working with all of you, and very much look forward to demonstrating to the world, through our broadcast that South Africa is open for business, and can, and has, and will continue to manage and operate within our “new normal,” said Tom Pearson-Adams, Kyalami 9 Hour CEO.

City of Joburg, SA Tourism, Gauteng Tourism Authority and Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation have played a pivotal role in helping to ensure the race is able to be delivered during these challenging times, and ensuring a safe environment is maintained for all involved. This further showcases Johannesburg as a world-renowned event host and South Africa as a tourist destination.

Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsports Group Founder and CEO: “We are delighted to be returning to South Africa for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli season finale. It’s rare for a ‘new’ event to make such a lasting impression but I know the international teams, drivers and manufacturers that attended the revived Kyalami 9 Hour last year enjoyed competing at a world-class event and spending time in South Africa. The Kyalami 9 Hour is certainly a fitting race at which to crown this year’s Intercontinental champions.”

The City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Geoffrey Makhubo, says he welcomes the return of the historic international motorsport event in the City of Joburg. The Mayor says he hopes hosting of major international sporting events will provide and encourage tourists to visit Johannesburg and enjoy what the city has to offer.

“It’s very exciting for us as the City of Johannesburg to be able to showcase our amazing city and be able to let the world know we are open for business. The iconic Kyalami 9 Hour race is a great leap for us in terms of our COVID-19 economic recovery in Johannesburg,” says Mayor Makhubo.

Barba Gaoganediwe, Acting CEO of Gauteng Tourism Authority echoed Makhubo’s sentinment.

“As champion hosts, Gauteng Tourism looks forward to welcoming this historic motorsport event as part of the destination’s Festive Summer promotional drive – which at the core of it has many other exciting sporting and lifestyle events in the offing. Destination Gauteng, as the home to top class facilities like the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, continues to place itself firmly as a major player on the world stage and this is cemented by iconic events such as the Kyalami 9 Hour race. Likewise, as we gradually emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, we remain geared up to connecting visitors to this world-class infrastructure and its extraordinary landscapes; whilst immersing them in our dynamic cultural experiences and splendid tourism offerings.”

MEC for Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mbali Hlope said:

“The Province of Gauteng is proud to host the iconic Kyalami 9 Hour race on its second year in South Africa. Motorsport has a proud heritage in Gauteng and South Africa. Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation is a proud partner of the event and we want to use this partnership to promote the business of sport, in particular in the automotive industry and the economy at large. Inclusivity is also important in sport, as it promotes social cohesion and the partnership between Kyalami 9 Hour and the Soweto Drift Academy ensures that the sport is exposed to many of our young people. We wish SRO Motorsports Group and the Kyalami 9 Hour organisers all the success and we look forward to a long sustainable partnership with our Province.”

The race will not be open to spectators due to strict COVID-19 regulations, as South Africa continues to proactively manage the spread of the virus. This year’s broadcast will be giving fans access to a mouth-watering weekend line-up of fast-paced high-octane entertainment. Further to this, fans will be given regular updates and interactive content on the Kyalami 9 Hour, COJ, Gauteng Tourism Authority and Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation social media platforms.

Toby Venter, Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, says he is delighted to be able to host such an iconic race.

“Despite a difficult and uncertain year, I am delighted to welcome Stephane Ratel Organisation (SRO) to the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit for the second Kyalami 9 Hour event. This will be the final race of the Intercontinental GT Series for 2020, and I wish all teams and drivers a safe and exciting race.

As the owners of the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, we are disappointed that racing fans will not be allowed to enjoy the thrills and noise from the trackside with us, but we are pleased that the event organisers and promoters, 9 Hour (Pty) Ltd have arranged for the event to be televised on DSTV Supersport.

I thank South African racing fans for their continued loyalty, and we have every confidence that we will host huge crowds of spectators when the Kyalami 9 Hour event returns to Kyalami in 2021.”

This event dates back to the 1960s and 1980s. It was hotly contested by classic Porsche racers such as the 550 Spider, 908, 917 and 962 – not to mention the Ferrari 250 GTO. Champions such as JackyIckx, Jochen Mass and David Piper emerged victorious amidst this period of action, and the likes of them were sorely missed during the 37 years the race had disappeared from the calendar.

About the Kyalami 9 Hour
The first endurance races were held from 1958 to 1960 at a circuit at the Grand Central Airport near Midrand before moving to Kyalami in 1961. The event was a mainstay until the 1980s. Following a 37-year hiatus the race returned in 2019 as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli – a global championship for GT3-specification supercars built by the likes of Porsche, Bentley and Audi.

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