The Kyalami 9 Hour, one of the biggest motoring events on the sporting calendar, will be taking place at the iconic Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit from 23 to 25 February 2023.
The International GT Challenge (IGTC) Series Powered by Pirelli is a GT3 and GT4 sportscar-based endurance series which has run at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit since 2019. The series visits five continents, with the Kyalami round featuring as the second round of the five-race 2023 season.
The main event is set to be contested by over 20 top international and local GT3 and GT4 race teams, all battling for overall and class victories in the 9-hour endurance race.
Understanding endurance racing ahead of Kyalami 9 Hour
Kriya Gangiah, one of motorsport’s leading female voices in South Africa and host of this year’s Kyalami 9 Hour, understands that there are many who are still a little bit unfamiliar with the ins and outs of South Africa’s biggest international endurance race. She has therefore shared seven basic facts about endurance racing ahead of this weekend’s big race.
- The Kyalami 9 Hour forms part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli which features five rounds on five continents, with South Africa being the second stop on the calendar.
- Endurance races are time based. Drivers try to cover as much distance as possible in a fixed time. For the Kyalami 9 Hour, racers will, over the span of nine hours, try and complete as many laps as possible and the team that covers the longest distance will be crowned the winners.
- Endurance races are more about teamwork. For the Kyalami 9 Hour, there needs to be three drivers per team, with each driver having a maximum drive time of three hours and forty-five minutes across the nine hours. The drivers can swap at any time; however, a driver can only do a continuous “stint” of three hours at a time. Each driver also needs to drive through the pitlane every 65 minutes.
- The race starts with a rolling start. This means that the cars will be led by the safety car in grid order around the track. After a certain number of laps, the safety car will enter the pit lane and the green flag is waved, and the race will start as the cars cross over the start/finish line.
- Since the races are so long, pit stops are critical, and the amount of time spent refuelling and changing tires can make or break a victory. This is really where the team strategy also comes into place.
- Each race consists of different classes. This means there will be drivers of different racing abilities racing in the Kyalami 9 Hour. Therefore, the pro drivers, pro-am drivers, silver and invitational drivers will be ranked together respectively.
- Balance of performance ensures that all the different manufacturers and engines compete on equal terms. Meaning a nibble Porche can go up against a mighty Mercedes. This makes driver skill more important.