South Africa has a rich history of endurance racing, from the Nine-Hour and Springbok Series meetings of the 1960s to the World Sports Car races of the 90's. There have also been a number of one-off races in recent years, but the only regular series now running is for Historic vehicles.
Meanwhile, Sports Car racing has gained so much momentum worldwide, through the growing popularity of the Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours, that these races have been drawn together for the first time this year to create an official World Endurance Championship.
While most motorsport insiders regard the ongoing attempts to stage a Formula One Grand Prix in Cape Town as so much pie in the sky, South Africa does have a ready-built circuit that's eminently suited to endurance racing.
Phakisa Raceway at Welkom in the Free State was built in the late 1990s for motorcycle Grand Prix racing, and held six successful World championship meetings, but has seen only limited use since.
AFRICAN 6 HOUR
Now a South African promoter, Classic Car Events, has put together plans for an endurance race in 2013, which won't form part of any National or Regional championship put will hopefully pave the way for a future World Endurance Championship round in South Africa.
The African 6 Hour will be run on 23 February 2013 at Phakisa and, in the tradition of the Daytona 24 Hours, Rockingham, Monza and Brooklands, it'll incorporate a section of the banked oval - which has never been used as part of a road racing event - from the exit of the “Boot” complex to the entry on to the back straight. That'll increase the length of the circuit from 4.2 to 4.4km and provide competitors with a new and unique challenge in South African motorsport.
The race will be open to Saloon and Sports and GT cars from all categories of South African circuit racing, making this the first time that National, Regional and Club vehicles will be able to race against each other.
In addition, every effort will be made to attract international entries.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS
The race will start at 2pm and finish at 8pm, with prize-giving on the morning of Sunday 24 February. Because the last three hours of the race will be run at night, the circuit will be open for practice until 6pm on Friday evening, to let the drivers get used to running under lights, with qualifying early on Saturday morning.
There will be trophies for overall, class and team victories, with a separate award for Index of Performance. Negotiations for sponsorship are underway and the organisers are hoping to it will cover a substantial prize fund for competitors, as well as providing television coverage.
The entry fee will be R2000 a car, and entries will be limited to 60 cars, so get your entry in soon.