> Title challengers split for season finale
> Safari-themed liveries also make welcome return
Audi Sport has partially split its primary Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli Drivers’ Championship contenders for the season-closing Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour on December 2-4.
Christopher Haase, Patric Niederhauser and Markus Winkelhock trail Alessandro Pier Guidi, Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen by just two points thanks to their Indianapolis 8 Hour Powered by AWS victory last month. But while Ferrari’s TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa winners are expected to remain together in South Africa, Audi has increased its chances by moving Winkelhock across to Team WRT.
The German is joined by fellow factory drivers Nico Mueller and Kelvin van der Linde, neither of whom can now win IGTC’s Drivers’ crown despite remaining mathematical contenders.
Mattia Drudi, whose own title chances ended at Indy, joins Sainteloc’s Haase and Niederhauser: the same trio that finished fifth at Kyalami last season.
Audi Sport enjoys a 36-point advantage over Ferrari in the Manufacturers’ standings with a maximum of 43 available for finishing one-two at Kyalami. Still, Ingolstadt has taken no chances by bolstering its roster with a third Pro entry, and second for WRT. What’s more, Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor – who are joined by Frederic Vervisch – lie just nine points adrift of the Drivers’ Championship lead.
All three factory cars will once again feature special ‘safari’ liveries – the latest additions to a tradition that began in 2019.
Sainteloc also has a second IGTC nomination, albeit in the Silver class where Nicholas Baert, Simon Gachet and Lucas Légeret join forces.
High Class Racing’s Pro-Am entry is not eligible to score Intercontinental points but, as previously announced, does feature on a Kyalami entry that includes five R8 LMS GT3s.