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Kyalami gets its groove back

13.05.2015

WHEN Toby Venter dropped a cool R205 million on the Kyalami facility in July last year, motorsport fans and petrolheads nationwide, breathed a sigh of relief. The iconic Kyalami circuit was saved but now the hard part begins for the track and that is rebuilding not only the track itself, but a reputation that could see the track return to its former glory days of South African motorsport.

So what are the plans?

Well, so far as I could surmise, the old Kyalami will still be intact to some degree with the track retaining many of its signature corners and gaining some new ones, when the redesign and resurfacing /re-kerbing takes place from now until the September 2015 deadline.

There are plans to improve the spectator experience by demolishing bomas and making more room for camping areas. There will be a new underpass entrance for improved access, a secondary pit lane - beside the refurbished version of the current pit lane - to serve advanced driving schools and local race teams at international events. There will also be improved parking facilities with resurfacing and more space, thanks to the removal of several old buildings, thereby making the circuit more accessible.

Return of motorsport?

The track design has been FIA approved meaning the green light has been shown and the circuit will begin to take shape and be ready for most tar-based motorsport disciplines besides Formula 1. That means, the pit lane entrance is FIA approved as are the safety and run-off areas.

The track looks different

Changes to the circuit will include a longer main straight with the first sweep now becoming, The Kink, while there will be a new Turn-2 (Crowthorne), which is tighter and leads to a series of turns before Jukskei Sweep, joining the existing Turn-4, while Turn-5 will now be known as, Barbeque. The back straight is where we’ll see the aforementioned secondary pit lane, while Sunset, Clubhouse and The Esses remain.

There will also be changes made to The Bowl at Turn-12. The new corner names have taken on a distinctly African flavour with names such as, Cheetah, The Crocodiles, Ingwe and Leeukop. The iconic Mineshaft will remain intact, too. The idea behind the renovations is to provide a track with more overtaking opportunities and therefore more excitement for spectators. The track is said to be more challenging to drivers with designers estimating that the new circuit will take on average six seconds longer to complete than the existing track.

Goodbye old Kyalami

The 12th of May was the last day the current circuit was open and - just one day before that - I was lucky enough to drive the monstrous 382kW/700Nm (770Nm on over-boost) 4.8-litre twin turbo V8 Porsche Panamera Turbo around the track as my final farewell to the old before we say hello to the new. What a fitting farewell it was before we made our way to another new development, the new Porsche Centre in Lynwood Road, Pretoria.

Another Porsche centre is born

We drove the Panameras to the latest Porsche centre, which - according to its makers - has been tweaked to improve upon any imperfections experienced at the other three branches throughout South Africa.

This dealership is actually bigger than the premises in Fourways if the enormous basement is taken into account. It is a One-Stop-Shop for owners where they can buy, service, replace tyres, repair damage at the body shop, have the car washed and even have lunch, all under one roof.

Article written by Sean Nurse
13.05.2015
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