After four rounds, spread across the globe from the USA to Japan, the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge reaches its season finale on November 21 – 23 with the Kyalami 9 Hour.
The weekend marks an historic occasion as it is the first time the famous nine-hour race has been held at the iconic circuit since 1984. SRO Motorsports Group has, however, organised races at Kyalami subsequent to the departure of the World Sportscar Championship. The 2000 Lamborghini Supertrophy at Kyalami featured SRO founder Stéphane Ratel at the wheel alongside Stéphane Lang-Willar, the duo finishing second in the Am class.
For 2019, 28 cars will be on the grid in South Africa, representing ten manufacturers.
Mercedes and Porsche will be the most represented marques on track with six examples each of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R. Mercedes-AMG has three entries in the overall category with one each in the Silver, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes while Porsche has four entries in the overall class with Silver and Am Cup entries for Kyalami.
BMW, with its BMW M6 GT3, and Aston Martin, with the Vantage AMR GT3, will have three examples each on the grid. Walkenhorst Motorsport will have the #34 and #36 M6 GT3s entries while BMW Team Schnitzer, fresh from the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, has entered the #42 to be driven Augusto Farfus Jnr, Martin Tomczyck and Sheldon van der Linde. R-Motorsport represents the Gaydon-based brand with the #62 and #76 Vantage AMR GT3s.
Ferrari, Nissan, Audi and Bentley will have two examples each of their GT3 machinery. KCMG has entered its pair of Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s, the #18 car to be driven by Edoardo Liberati, Alexandre Imperatori and Oliver Jarvis while the #35 car will be piloted by Katsumasa Chiya, Joao Paulo de Oliveira and Josh Burdon.
Despite its dominance of the Blancpain GT Series in 2019, there will only be one Lamborghini Huracán GT3 on the grid in Kyalami, the #13 Stradale Motorsport entry to be driven by Charl Arangies, Craig Jarvis and Dawie Joubert.
The grid is completed by the #30 Honda Team Motul Honda NSX GT3, piloted by Marco Bonanomi, Bertrand Baguette and Dane Cameron.
Maxi Buhk, driver of the #999n Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing heads the table in the drivers standings on 58 points, three points ahead of Kyalami teammate Raffaele Marciello. Consistency has been the word for Buhk this season, with second-place finishes at Bathurst, California and Suzuka.
Frédéric Vervisch is third in the drivers standings on 52 points, the Audi driver coming back from an opening round DNF to finish in the points at the three subsequent rounds, including a win last time out at Suzuka.
With Buhk and Raffaele leading the driver standings, it is no surprise that Mercedes lead the manufacturers standings on 115 points, 22 points ahead of Porsche. Despite taking the victory at a rain-soaked Spa-Francorchamps in July, the Stuttgart marque has struggled to maintain the consistency of Mercedes-AMG this season. This weekend Porsche will be looking to recreate the final years of the World Sportscar Championship where 936s and 956s won between 1981 and 1983.
Track action for the Kyalami 9 Hour begins on Thursday November 21 at 10:00 local time with a two-hour paid test session. The first free practice session gets underway at 18:00 local time later that evening with pre-qualifying beginning at 10:50 on Friday November 22.
The first of the three 15-minute qualifying session begins at 14:45 local time on Friday November 22 with the Pole Shootout for the ten quickest cars at 16:25.
The lights go out for the 2019 Kyalami 9 Hour at 13:00 local time on Saturday November 23.