Johannesburg - South African motorsport fans will get to see the year off with a bang in early December, with the 2021 Kyalami 9 Hour Endurance Race once again running as the season finale for the Intercontinental GT Challenge, as per the announcement made in October.
But now there is more good news for Mzansi racing fans, following the confirmation that an all-black African team will compete in the series for the first time.
The 9-hour GT3 race will see Philip Kekana, Tschops Sipuka and Xolile Letlaka competing in their Into Africa Mining Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo race car. Sipuka and Letlaka have competed in this year’s 2021 SA Endurance Series, where they have achieved two victories and a second place finish in four races. Despite missing the first round and a non-finish in Gqeberha, the pair currently lie third in the championship.
Xolile Letlaka became the first man of colour to win a round of the Endurance series last year, his first race in a pukka GT3 car, teamed with Charl Arangies.
“It will probably be one of the proudest days of my life”, Letlaka enthused about the upcoming race. “Fielding a team with two drivers who grew up in rural villages in the Eastern Cape and one from Soweto speaks to my motto of ‘we lift as we rise’,” he said.
Tschops Sipuka is a well known personality in SA motorsport circles, having won the Polo Cup title in 2002 and 2003 before progressing into production cars in a factory-backed Audi. He returned to GTC racing in 2019, where he won the East London round.
“It will be an honour to showcase ourselves on an international stage,” Sipuka said. “Consistency and speed will be our watchwords. The Kyalami 9-Hour is going to be a very special moment for our team.”
Philip Kekana is another big name on the local scene, having started racing Group N cars in 1997 before winning the title in 2002. Kekana hopes the GT3 race in December will inspire young black children to take a bigger interest in motorsport, especially from an engineering perspective.
Kekana says he is both excited and nervous about his GT3 racing debut. Having been out of the sport for a long time, he is relishing his test session ahead of the big race.
“It’s going to be a steep learning curve for me; I have to become accustomed to the car – understand how the machine works and how far I can push it. I was very excited when Xolile called to offer me the drive. I’ve been training hard since then,” Kekana said.