kyalami20#34

Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus, and Sheldon van der Linde in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport M6 GT3 won the 9 Hours of Kyalami in South Africa, the last race of the season in the Intercontinental GT Challenge series, on December 12. As a result, Catsburg and Farfus became IGTC drivers’ champions for the 2020 season, with BMW finishing second to Porsche in manufacturers’ points.

The #34 car ran near the front for much of the race. Rain began on the circuit about ninety minutes before the end; the #34 car was first to pit for wet weather tires. When one of the front runners spun, the Honda NSX that had led much of the race pitted for a full stop, while the #34 car and the #32 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 LMS GT3 did not. With no extended green flag running remaining in the race, the stop dropped the NSX out of contention for the win. The Audi and BMW both had to pit during the long caution period to reset the drivers’ seat time clock, as stints were limited to 65 minutes. When Frederick Vervisch in the Audi drove through the pits under yellow for the reset, he came out ahead of the BMW, but was instructed to let the BMW pass. The BMW kept the lead, with the race finishing under the safety car because of the weather.

The second Walkenhorst M6 GT3, the #35 car driven by Martin Tomczyk, David Pittard, and Nick Yelloly, finished sixth. With the pandemic taking its toll on travel, just twelve cars contested the race.

Catsburg and Farfus had won the second race of the IGTC season in Indianapolis in October, sharing the car with Connor De Phillippi. The #35 car, with Tomczyk, Pittard, and Yelloly driving, was second. The #34 car exited the season opener on the Bathurst in Australia, where the #35 did not run, and both the #34 and #35 dropped out of the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium in October. While the series was scheduled to run five races on five continents, the pandemic led to the cancellation of the Asian round on the Suzuka circuit in Japan.

Walkenhorst Motorsport Team Manager Niclas Königbauer said, “What a race. We proved again how important it is to keep a cool head under crazy conditions and work together closely as a team. I am unbelievably proud of how everyone performed, on and off the track. Everyone did a phenomenal job without mistakes and that’s the key to finish and win a race. For everyone this is a superb finish to the 2020 season which was difficult in many ways. However, having the big trophy at the end gives us all great momentum as we prepare for 2021. Many thanks again to everyone involved in those achievements.”

The 2021 season will again be run on four continents because of the cancellation of the 2021 12 Hours of Bathurst. The new season will begin with the 24 Hours of Spa on July 31 through August 1, followed by the Suzuka 10 Hours in Japan on August 21–22, the Indianapolis 8 Hours on October 16–17, and the Kyalami 9 Hours on a December date to be determined.—Brian Morgan

[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]

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