The race win and the Pro-Am title: for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, the goals are clear prior to the third and final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli (IGTC) season. Mathematically, the drivers’ title in the overall standings can still be secured in the third running of the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour as well. Accordingly motivated, the representatives of the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach will be taking on the weekend from 3rd-5th February 2022. Due to the Omicron variant of the corona virus, discovered in South Africa in November, 2021 and the travel restrictions that came with it, the third running of the race in South Africa had to be postponed from December 2021 into the new year at the last minute. At the 4.522 kilometres long Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, two Mercedes-AMG GT3s will be on the grid, both with a strong line-up and one of them heading to South Africa with extended works support.
Due to the travel restrictions, the Intercontinental GT Challenge will be run on three rather than on five continents this season. Following the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa in Europe and the Indianapolis 8 Hour in North America, the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour in South Africa serves as the season finale of the global GT3 race series.
Like in the two preceding events, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport will be taking on the race with a high-quality line-up. Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP (#89) with Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Jules Gounon (FRA) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) will be competing for the race win. Behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the trio of AKKA ASP drivers intends to build on the success in the eight-hour race at Indianapolis in the US where it secured a strong second-place finish. Now, the team is eager to make it all the way to the top step of the podium. Currently fifth in the drivers’ standings, Timur Boguslavskiy would even stand a chance of wrapping up the title in case of a race win.
The #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the SunEnergy1 Racing customer team will be on the grid again in South Africa as well. Mikaël Grenier (CAN), Kenny Habul (AUS) and Martin Konrad (AUT) will be sharing driving duties. At Indianapolis, the trio of drivers scored a top ten overall result and secured victory in the Pro-Am classification following an outstanding achievement. With a similarly strong performance at Kyalami, the team could be crowned champion in its class.
It is the third consecutive year in which the Intercontinental GT Challenge will be racing at the Kyalami Grand Prix Racing Circuit that was opened in 1961 and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2021. It is located between the South African metropolis Johannesburg and the country’s capital Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The word “kyalami” comes from the Zulu language, one of eleven official languages spoken in South Africa, and means “my home”.
On Thursday, 3rd February, the teams will be heading out on track for the first time in free practice, followed by qualifying on Friday afternoon. The subsequent Superpole session will determine the best starting grid positions. The nine-hour race gets underway on Saturday, 5th February, at 1pm local time (noon CET) with a rolling start. After dark and therefore under floodlights, the battle in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale will be decided at 10pm local time (9pm CET).
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “The Kyalami 9 Hour is the most important race on the African continent and we are really happy to be part of it with two Mercedes-AMG GT3s. An overall win would be a nice way to conclude the Intercontinental GT Challenge for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. Our teams and drivers will be doing their utmost to achieve this.”
Raffaele Marciello, #89 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP: “We will be doing everything to conclude the IGTC season in a successful way. Our teammate Timur still has chances in the battle for the drivers’ championship and it would be great if he can win the title. It will be a challenging race. When we will get the opportunity to compete for victory, we will be there.”
Kenny Habul, #75 SunEnergy1 Racing: “The final IGTC season round at Kyalami is another real highlight. When we can repeat our strong performance from Indianapolis once more, the title in the Pro-Am standings is within reach. I am optimistic that we will conclude the season in a successful way.”