Porsche Kyalami Circuit: Another Hybrid Racetrack

Porsche’s South African connections have bought the Kyalami Circuit near Johannesburg, South Africa. Recently offered at auction as commercial development land, the South African Porsche dealer CEO apparently had to put £200k on deposit to bid in an auction sale that eventually lasted less than a minute. The final purchase price was just under $20 million, or £11.5 Million.

The purchase joins up a news loose end for me as, a few weeks ago, my number 1 Jo’burg informant sent me a picture of a 919 Hybrid-like creature being trailered away from the circuit. I did some research and found the link to the auction. I suspected something could be happening but did not want to speculate. That kind of chat makes it dearer for everyone. That said, the secret obviously escaped as the reserve went from zero to R129 Million to R200 Million within a few days.

Porsche Kyalami Circuit purchase

What will happen with the circuit? Could be a hot weather testing zone open to Volkswagen/Porsche badge, with the added ability of customer experience and on-site vehicle engineering centres. Jo’burg is also a great place for car launches in the depths of winter without having to fly to Australia. Summer runs from October to April, when snow never happens, rain is infrequent and January temps approach 30 degrees.

Porsche 911 Launch Ocean Johannesburg (1)

The main thing is no one will build houses on it, so well done to the J’Burgers for stepping up. That said, I’m sure it could make a tidy profit if they did split some of it off for development.

The Old Kyalami

Alastair Caldwell, friend of Ferdinand, former McLaren team manager and now erstwhile marathon rally driver, tells some great stories about Kyalami, back when his driver James Hunt gorged on the breakfast of champions. I can’t think of one that’s repeatable, but no doubt the legend of the old Kyalami circuit’s speed and debauchery lives on in race circles. With Mexico coming back on the GP calendar, maybe Kyalami will be next. It would certainly make a good WEC venue, although the new circuit is not as exciting as the old one, which was raced until 1985.

Old Kyalami was absolutely awesome. The lap finished in a huge uphill climb to the main straight where the cars could reach more than 200 mph on a surface rougher than a Belgian motorway. Check out this video of Prost in the Renault during 1983. They don’t make them like this anymore!

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