Mikkel Jensen, Christian Krognes, and Nick Catsburg in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport M6 GT3 finished second in the 9 Hours of Kyalami in South Africa, the fifth and final race of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge season. Martin Tomczyk, Augusto Farfus, and Sheldon van der Linde in the BMW Team Schnitzer #42 BMW M6 GT3 finished seventh. The Schnitzer car’s finish made van der Linde the highest-placing South African driver in the race.
The #34 car started sixteenth on the grid, but quickly moved up, leading the race at the halfway point. By that point in the race the #42 car had moved up to second from its eighth place starting position. The race was run under the caution flag in torrential rain for about two hours near the end. The #42 Schnitzer M6 GT3, on a different pit strategy from the rest of the pack, led through much of the caution period. But the car had to pit near the end of the period, dropping back in the pack. Augusto Farfus, in for the final stint, was able to move it up to seventh at the end. The #34 Walkenhorst car, with Catsburg at the controls, moved up to second soon after the race went back to green with about 25 minutes remaining and held on to the position until the finish.
A second Walkenhorst Motorsport car, the #36 BMW M6 GT3 driven by Michael Von Rooyen, Gennaro Bonafede, and team principal Henry Walkenhorst secured victory in the AM category.
The overall win went to Nick Tandy, Dennis Olsen, and Mathieu Jaminet in the #31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3R. Olsen, a 23-year-old Norwegian, won the series’ drivers title, and Porsche, winner of three of the five races run over the course of the season, won the manufacturers’ title.
Rudolf Dittrich, general manager BMW Motorsport vehicle development, said: “Throughout the season, we came close to a podium on a regular basis with the BMW M6 GT3 in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The fact that we did it at the season finale at Kyalami makes it all the more rewarding. Congratulations to Nick Catsburg, Mikkel Jensen, Christian Krognes, and the entire Walkenhorst team on the second place and the victory in the AM category. The race was a thriller, right to the very end, and it is great for us to be able to round off our return to South Africa with a podium finish. Congratulations are also in order for BMW Team Schnitzer, who put on a very good racing performance. Unfortunately, the strategy didn’t work out for that car in the end. Many thanks as well to the numerous BMW fans at the circuit for their great support. They showed us once again just how important BMW is here in South Africa. Congratulations to Dennis Olsen for securing the drivers’ title, and to Porsche for winning the constructors’ championship.”
The 2019 series began with the Bathurst 12 Hours in January, and continued with the California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in March, the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium in July, and the Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan before finishing the season at Kyalami. In 2020 an eight-hour October race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway replaces the WeatherTech Raceway event, leaving the series with a long gap from Bathurst on February 1–2 to Spa in late July. The series returns to Suzuka in August, runs at Indy in October, and ends again at Kyalami in November.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]