9 Hour Approaching

Event: 
African 9 Hour

Killarney’s 12 December South African 9-hour endurance race will evoke classic racing memories as much as it heralds a thrilling new era for local motorsport when a spectacular field of more than thirty cars speeds away at midday 12 December.

South Africa has a brilliant endurance racing heritage that started almost sixty years ago with the first nine-hour race at the old Grand Central circuit in what used to be called Halfway House between Johannesburg and Pretoria in November 1958. That race attracted the attention of the broader public with everything from a Mille Miglia Ferrari to Volkswagen Beetles racing flat out until Ian Fraser-Jones and Tony Fergusson took the flag first in a Porsche.

The 9-hour soon became an end of season racing staple, moving to Kyalami in 1961 and drawing the best overseas racers and the finest racing sports, GT and saloon cars from around the world every year including racing heroes the likes of future world champions Jody Scheckter, Niki Lauda, James Hunt and Mario Andretti.

They diced sports car stars David Piper, Derek Bell, Dicky Attwood, Brian Redman and Henri Pescarolo alongside local legends from John Love to Dave Charlton, Ian Scheckter, Sarel van der Merwe and so many more. racing the likes of everything from Ferrari GTOS, LMs and P4s through to 512s and 312Ps to Porsche 917s and 965s, Matra V12s and so many more, attracting crowds of a hundred thousands to extreme racing festivals every year.

The 9-hour soon became part of the Springbok series, starting at that Kyalami showpiece before heading to as far afield as Rhodesia, Mozambique, Pietermaritzburg and Killarney, where the three-hour race signified the glorious end of a splendid series every year. Killarney has long since remained a classic endurance racing venue, even long after the heady days of those international races with a regular three-hour before playing host to the spectacular old Group N Production Car 6, 7 and 9-hour races through until the late 1990s.

And now endurance racing returns to the charismatic racetrack close to the foot of Table Mountain with the reborn 9-hour race that has attracted a field worthy of the legend as long-distance racing once again takes top billing in Cape Town.

The Killarney South African 9-hour has attracted most impressive and quite diverse 32-car field of sports cars, GTs and racing saloon cars with everything from a Le Mans Ligier to a fleet of racing Citi Golfs sharing the 4km strip of tarmac from midday to nine Saturday evening 12 December and there are more than just a few links to a that great classic South African endurance racing legend.

Sarel van der Merwe is for instance one driver entered next Saturday, who raced in those original Kyalami 9-hour races and the Daytona 24-hour winner is driving a Ginetta G55 in the Killarney enduro. Sarel’s former Daytona winning teammate and another former SA champion Tony Martin is managing a two-car Backdraft team and fellow former SA Driver’s champion Bernard Tilanus as in negotiation for an open seat in a leading sports racing car.

A good number of drivers entered had considerable experience in Killarney’s Group N 9-hours too, while Bruce Johnstone, who won the 1962 Kyalami 9-hour driving a Ferrari 250 GTO with David Piper, will hand over the winner’s trophy after the race.

The 9-hour field will have a familiar feel about it too, with a fleet of Junos and Shelby Can Am sports cars taking on a Le Mans Ligier up front, ahead of an enticing field of Porsche, Lamborghini, Ginetta, Panoz and other GTs. A classic endurance race just would not be a classic endurance race without a significant number of saloon cars racing and 9-hour will not disappoint there either, with a significant field of tin-tops set to duke it out into the night at Killarney.

The Killarney South African 9-hour promises a truly entertaining day’s racing to open your Summer holiday, with a pair of single-seater races in the morning in an effort to see a record number of entries racing there, while an 8-hour motorcycle endurance race on the adjacent kart track will unfold simultaneously with the cars racing on the main circuit to offer fans a quite unique endurance racing double whammy.

The 9-hour weekend starts with Friday scrutineering and practice leading up to a mandatory night session, with Saturday’s track action headlined by the midday start of the big race, which finishes at 9 o’clock, after sunset at 19:30 that evening.

Be sure to be at Killarney midday 12 December!