Thrilling Killarney 9-Hour sees Kwanda Mokena crowned as youngest-ever Endurance Champ

Published Dec 12, 2022


Cape Town - 44 cars entered the Killarney 9-Hour, but just one proved the dominant force.

Kwanda Mokena drove faultlessly to become the youngest-ever SA Endurance Champion at the Killarney 9-Hour in Cape Town, part of the Cape Motorsport Festival which featured the final two rounds of the SAGT National Championship and a nine-artist music concert as the Southern African Endurance Series came to a dramatic and exciting conclusion.

The 18-year-old Mokoena, partnered with another young SA hotshot Andrew Rackstraw and Audi factory driver Luca Engstler, dominated proceedings in Cape Town after claiming pole position in their MJR Motorsport/Amandla Coal Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2 and proceeded to lead from lights to flag, emerging three laps clear of title rival Tschops Sipuka, partnered with Xolile Letlaka and Stuart White in their Into Africa Mining Lamborghini Huracan GT3, who duly finished second overall.

The Lambo suffered tyre issues in the opening stint with White unable to keep up with the flying Audi. White set the fastest race lap as he dug deep to close down the gap, making it back on to the lead lap by mid-race. During a brief rain shower, which occurred moments after his pitstop, White was one second faster than the whole field as the young charger tried to close the gap.

The third championship contender Hein Lategan ended third in his Black Bull Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with co-drivers Henk Lategan and Verissimo Tavares giving their all in their near-standard Porsche ending four laps down on the Lamborghini after a trouble-free race.

Fourth overall was a fantastic effort from Mo Mia/Lee Thompson (Toys-R-Us Porsche 911 GT3). The car’s left front corner was badly damaged during a pitlane accident during Friday night’s practice session; parts were ordered, arrived at 07h30 and the car was ready to race by 9am after a mammoth effort from the team.

Fifth overall was the Bucketlist Racing BMW 340i of Heinz Bose and Christopher and Anthony Pretorius in spite of suffering a broken control arm which the team had to make running repairs to keep the car running over the final half-hour.

Danie van Niekerk and Roberto/David Franco (Graphix Supply World Volkswagen Polo SupaCup) claimed a surprised class D win and sixth overall. Van Niekerk had to repair a right-rear wheel bearing which cost the team 30 minutes in the pits. Over the final 30 minutes of the race, Van Niekerk was involved in a huge fight with Johan de Bruyn’s similar Polo.

The heartbreak story of the Killarney 9-Hour befell Karah Hill/Michael Stephen/Jurie Swart’s Kalex VW Polo. The trio were in a comfortable class lead and fifth overall for eight hours and 53 minutes when the left-front wheel bearing failed – with seven minutes of the race remaining!

The factory Volkswagen Polo GTi SupaCup of Daniel Rowe/Keagan Masters was well in the hunt until the halfway mark when a fuel pump fitting failure caused the car to stop on track. After being towed back and repaired, losing 11 laps, the pair clawed their way back up the order, finally finishing seventh and second in Class D.

In a David vs Goliath fight, the Gazoo Racing Toyota Yaris GR media car of Ashley Oldfield, Mark Jones, Thomas Falkiner and Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger won the Index of Performance followed by the sister Yaris GR of Toyota executives Leon Theron, Anand Pather, Mario de Sousa and journalist Sean Nurse. The cars ran faultlessly, only requiring a change of brake pads just before 7pm and duly claimed eighth and 11th overall.

The class E win went to the Backdraft-Lexus of Mark Owens, Trevor Graham and Richard van Heerde who lost a fuel pump an hour into the race and dropped from a two-lap lead. They fought hard to overturn their 15-lap deficit, edging the Team Qhubani Backdraft of Fikile Holomisa/Baphumze Rubuluza/Xolela Njumbunxa by 11 seconds. The Qhubani team drove the second half of the race stuck in fifth gear making their tenth overall all the more remarkable.

2023 pre-season testing takes place in February with the opening round of the new season scheduled for March.

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