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Racing

Kyalami 9 Hour Intercontinental GT Challenge South Africa

Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit was my 50th track to volunteer at and South Africa 16th country I have worked in so far. I was so fortunate to have this opportunity I cannot thank all the people that helped me enough, especially Victor who went above and beyond to make me feel like home. I am forever grateful to him! Lucky for me I got a chance to work directly with Victor as my post chief. And I learned a lot in the process.

Often people ask what’s my favorite circuit. And having experienced Kyalami I can say with certainty that it is by far one of the best places I have ever been at. It is in great company from one of my home tracks Watkins Glen International, to my most favorite places like Mosport in Canada, Bathurst in Australia, Spa-Fracorchamps and the Nurburgring in Europe. The marshaling body, my colleagues too were some of the best trained marshals I’ve had the privilege to work with. They take their job seriously and the club offers plenty of training to make sure everyone is on the same page.

For this event Kyalami Circuit ran their own intervention vehicles… Brand new Mercedes-Benz X-class pick ups, so the Kyalami Marshals trusty Land Rover Defender just sat there for me to take selfies with.

One of our Medics was taking selfies when she popped out from her post inside the aforementioned Mercedes X-class so I got her attention to take a selfie with me. The event used medical students to staff the response vehicles as they often do in other countries. I remember this was the case in the US and Australia as well.

And of course the most important part of any volunteering experience is trackside food. Victor and his crew brought supplies to feed us all using a very traditional South African invention called Skottel Braai and it was some of the best stuff I’ve had anywhere! Thank you chef!

As is pretty much customary anywhere you volunteer taking pics while on duty was forbidden but lucky for us we were in a very scenic part of the track visited by PRO photogs who took this very nice shot of our post along with my favorite livery race car over the weekend. The South African flag carrying Mercedes-AMG GT3 looked incredible in person and I was secretly rooting for it to win, but it didn’t fare so well. In the picture you see the Mall of Africa in the background. When flying to Cape Town I spotted it from my plane window and realized I was flying right over Kyalami, sure enough it was right there, too bad I didn’t have my camera handy.

The local South African driver of the Bentley was leading the race for a long time but he didn’t win either. It was a pair of Porsche’s that battled for the win, and ultimately a British driver that races in the US a lot took a commanding lead in the end.

Speaking of the end, in the evening we had a tremendous amount of lightning in the area. Anywhere else in the world we would have probably been pulled off station and told to take shelter but not here. It was spectacular to watch in the distance but at times it seemed to come way too close as night turned to day for a brief moment. The camera people bailed that were stationed across from us. But we got to enjoy the show.

Except for one little spin involving the ultimate race winner we had no action to speak of during the main event. But for one of the support races there was a rather nice smash involving two VW Polo Cup cars. Drivers walked away but cars had to be towed as whole chunks of suspension were ripped off. Good quality racing!

So in the end I’m really happy I got an opportunity to sample racing in South Africa as a Motorsport volunteer. I would highly recommend it to others. I would hope I could do it again especially since this SRO event methinks was used as a dry run for WEC to come to the circuit in February of 2021 and I for one hope to be there for that. Though maybe I could find myself in a new position working as a Scrutineer / Pit Observer there.

We will see…