Press Release: South African GT Racing Association
When the teams line up on the grid for the start of the Kyalami 9-Hour race on Saturday, 4th December, a piece of South African motorsport history will be made with the appearance of the first all-Black African team tackling the famous race.
The final round of the Intercontinental GT Championship will see Xolile Letlaka, Tschops Sipuka and Philip Kekana take on the best GT3 racers in the world behind the wheel of their Into Africa Mining Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
Letlaka and Sipuka raced their Huracan GT3 to two victories and a second place finish from their four starts in the 2021 SA Endurance Series, providing a taste of things to come in the Kyalami 9-Hour where they will be aiming to win the National Class. Despite missing the first round of the Endurance series, and a non-finish at the Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) round, Letlaka and Sipuka lie third in the championship standings.
48-year-old businessman 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”, said Letlaka about how he will feel when standing on the grid with his teammates while the National Anthem is played. “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.”
Tschops Sipuka needs no introduction to SA motorsport fans. He won the Polo Cup title in 2002 and 2003 before progressing into production cars in a factory-backed Audi. After a seven year absence from the sport, he returned to GTC racing in 2019, winning the East London round. The 43-year old Sipuka raced a Mercedes Supertruck and tested an Indy Lights car during his varied career.
“It will be an honour to showcase ourselves on an international stage,” said Sipuka. “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 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”, said the 55-year-old Sowetan resident.
Kekana started racing Group N cars in 1997 before winning the title in 2002 and hopes the Into Africa Mining team will inspire young black children to take a bigger interest in motorsport, especially from an engineering perspective.