The final international motorsport championship of 2021 was decided yesterday in South Africa. The 2021 Kyalami 9 Hour was initially scheduled to take place on December 4th, 2021 but was postponed due to the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The 2021 Intercontinental GT Challenge’s final round was rescheduled to February 5th, 2022. Timur Boguslavskiy, Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello won the endurance race driving the #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 against only twelve other cars.
The #89 Mercedes started the race from pole and only lost the lead through an unusual strategy used by their nearest competitors. AF Corsa decided to place both its Ferrari 488 GT3s on an alternate pit strategy by driving their cars through pitlane without refueling or changing tires. The Italian team wanted to reset their stint limit with the drive-through. For those unfamiliar with the IGTC, its events impose a maximum time limit of 65 minutes that a car can spend out on track before pitting. Despite the bold call, the Ferraris simply couldn’t keep up with the Mercedes. AF Corse had to settle for just a second-place finish as one of their Ferrari suffered a transmission failure three and a half hours into the race.
There was also a national GT3 class race for local South African entries within the already small field. The four entries in the class included the first-ever all-Black African team to enter the Kyalami 9 Hour, the #23 Stradale Into Africa Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo driven by Xolile Letlaka, Tschops Sipuka and Phillip Kekana. The #23 Lamborghini finished all nine hours. However, this class race only took place over the first hour of the 9-hour enduro. Once Silvio Scribante won the hour-long race-within-a-race, he pulled into pitlane and parked his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
The Intercontinental GT Challenge has been hit hard by the pandemic. The IGTC has struggled to garner large fields for races outside Europe. The 2019 Kyalami 9 Hour, the last pre-pandemic edition of the race, featured 28 entries. The 2022 Intercontinental GT Challenge will begin in May with the Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia, a race that was initially scheduled for February.