Victory and a title win at the season finale in the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) in Kyalami (RSA) for the BMW M6 GT3: a dramatic finish to the ‘Kyalami 9 Hour’ saw Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Nick Catsburg (NED) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) emerge victorious in the #34 BMW M6 GT3 of Team Walkenhorst Motorsport.
Catsburg and Farfus, who had already triumphed at the 8 Hours of Indianapolis (USA), claimed the drivers’ title in the IGTC. In the #35 BMW M6 GT3, Martin Tomczyk (GER), Nick Yelloly and David Pittard (both GBR) crossed the finish line in sixth position after nine hours. BMW completed the season in second place in the manufacturers’ standings.
Starting driver Farfus began the race from third place and was able to defend his position in the early stage before handing over the #34 BMW M6 GT3 to local hero van der Linde. The South African was able to move up one place due to a competitor suffering from technical issues. However, the #34 BMW M6 GT3 then lost three places, reaching the halfway point of the race in fifth position. The trio then managed to battle their way back to third place, before losing a place once again during the penultimate pit stop. One and a half hours before the end of the race, heavy rain moved in over the circuit just outside Johannesburg (RSA). The #34 BMW M6 GT3 was the first car from the leading group to head for the pits and change to wet-weather tyres. Competitors then spun out and made later pit stops as Catsburg moved into the lead around half an hour before the end and he was able to cross the line first under Full Course Yellow conditions.
Tomczyk started the race from sixth place in the #35 BMW M6 GT3 and gained two positions on the first lap. He defended fourth place until the first pit stop, when he handed over to Yelloly. The British driver was initially unable to keep up the pace, losing several places before handing over to Pittard in seventh. In the second half of the race, the trio improved by one position to finish in sixth place.
The IGTC season 2020: turbulent global tournament with ups and downs for Walkenhorst Motorsport.
The Kyalami race marked the end of the second complete season in the Intercontinental GT Challenge for Walkenhorst Motorsport. The season lost one event after the cancellation of the ‘Suzuka 10 Hours’ but still featured four endurance events on four different continents. For the season-opener, Walkenhorst Motorsport headed to Australia, where the team from Melle (GER) competed with one BMW M6 GT3 at the ‘Bathurst 12 Hour’. Farfus, Catsburg and local hero Chaz Mostert (AUS) shared driving duties but were forced to retire from the race early after an unfortunate collision with a kangaroo. Things went much better in the second race – the 8 Hours of Indianapolis (USA). Walkenhorst Motorsport produced the perfect race with the two BMW M6 GT3s on the legendary circuit. Catsburg, Farfus and Connor De Phillippi (USA) triumphed in the #34 BMW M6 GT3, with Pittard, Tomczyk and Yelloly following right behind in the #35 BMW M6 GT3 to confirm the one-two result and start the celebrations. At the third race of the season, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL), the team endured bad luck similar to that in Bathurst. At the classic race in the Ardennes, the two BMW M6 GT3s retired after two collisions. However, luck was back on their side at the season finale in Kyalami. Victory for Catsburg and Farfus saw them top the drivers’ championship.
Reactions after the race:
Niclas Königbauer (Walkenhorst Motorsport Team Manager): “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.”
Nick Catsburg (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “Unbelievable. We are the champions in the drivers’ standings. Up to the final two hours of the race, we really did not expect that to happen. We hoped for something crazy to happen. Just like last year, it wouldn’t be Kyalami if something mad didn’t happen. It was just like that, apart from the fact that there was a restart at the end of the race last year. Congratulations to the team for getting it right. I am delighted to have won the race and the championship. I am a bit sorry for the Honda team. They dominated today and would have earned a good result.”
Augusto Farfus (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “I am a bit speechless. It was a difficult year with many challenges on and off the track. I am very glad that BMW and the Walkenhorst Motorsport team stayed strong together. We delivered a very strong campaign. The race today wasn’t easy but we executed very well. None of the drivers made any mistakes and the car worked very well. I am very happy with this championship. Let’s celebrate!”
Sheldon van der Linde (#34 BMW M6 GT3, Walkenhorst Motorsport): “To be honest, it feels like a title today. It is fantastic to drive with these guys. We didn’t make any mistakes and the car was just perfect. At the moment, I am lost for words. We came close last year and this year we managed it. Simply unbelievable.”