Home hero Sheldon van der Linde wins Kyalami 9 Hour
BMW snatches victory from Honda after late rainstorm
Home favourite Sheldon van der Linde in a BMW M6 was part of the three-man team who took victory in the rain-affected Kyalami 9 Hour on Saturday.
In a race held without spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions, Van der Linde's Walkenhorst Motorsport teammates Augusto Farfus and Nick Catsburg became joint champions of the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Audi Sport Team WRT’s Frederic Vervisch, Mirko Bortolotti and Charles Weerts came home second ahead of Matt Campbell, Patrick Pilet and Mathieu Jaminet (GPX Racing) who sealed the Manufacturers’ crown for Porsche in third overall.
The Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 spent most of the race inside the top-five but didn’t become a serious victory or championship contender until the final hour when a heavy thunderstorm turned the outcome on its head.
A final fuel stop for Team Honda Racing left the BMW in prime position when the storm flooded the circuit with 90 minutes to go, and the conditions required Full Course Yellow and Safety Car periods through until the chequered flag.
The pole-winning Honda NSX shared by Mario Farnbacher, Renger van der Zande and Bertrand Baguette had dominated up until that point.
It only faced serious pressure in the seventh hour when Audi Sport Team Car Collection’s Patric Niederhauser moved to within 1.5 seconds. At that stage the winner would also lift the Drivers’ crown, but Midrand’s famously unpredictable weather was about to deny both entries.
When the rain arrived, the cars scrambled into the pits for wet tyres but this was the moment that effectively ended Honda’s challenge: unlike its rivals, the team opted against also taking on fuel, leaving no choice but stop again for a full service before the finish.
The Honda eventually came home fourth.
Lechner Racing’s local Team Perfect Circle Porsche crewed by Andre Benzuidenhout, Saul Hack and Dylan Pereira completed the points-paying positions in 10th.