Youngest EVER SA Endurance Racing Champion to Take on Kyalami 9-Hour!
Photo Cred: Kyalami 9-Hour | Supplied

It’s been a journey that took him to the World Karting finals, where he was tenth in the world in 2017, but the youngest EVER South African Endurance Racing Champion is set to take on the Kyalami 9 Hour!

 

Johannesburg, South Africa (21 February 2023) – Kwanda Mokoena, South Africa’s 2022 Endurance Racing Champion and the youngest-ever driver to achieve this feat, will be taking on the Kyalami 9-Hour this weekend, which forms the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli.

Last year, Mokoena drove with Audi factory driver Luca Engstler and 2021 Investchem SA Formula 1600 champion Andrew Rackstraw to take the win at Killarney Cape Town 9 Hour to secure the championship. Marius Jackson, who took Mokoena under his wing at the beginning of last year to join his MJR Motorsport team and introduced him to GT racing, says that Mokoena will join him and driver Mo Mia at Kyalami this weekend in their Audi 8 GT3.

Eighteen-year-old Mokoena has been home-schooled for the past four years and will finish his matric this year. He says he is looking forward to the experience of competing with so many international drivers.

“The number of pro drivers that have come in, the skill level is pretty insane. So this is going to be a huge ask, to be running with those guys. I just want to take away from this weekend as much as I can, try and learn from the pros – see how they go into a race weekend and how they go about everything.”

Kwanda’s father Kwame says his family grew up in the former Transkei and they all loved speed: “The most significant thing was when Kwanda’s uncle Tschops [Sipuka] was discovered by Terry Moss and things took off. Kwanda literally grew up going to the track and listening to cars when Tschops was racing, so by the age of two, he had been to every race track in the country. Terry Moss said that we should get Kwanda into Karting, so he has been competing since he was six or seven and winning championships.”

It’s been a journey that took him to the World Karting finals, where he was tenth in the world in 2017. His father says he competed in the Polo Cup for a few years but became disillusioned with the sport.

“The biggest blessing was meeting Marius [Jackson], who suggested he try GT4, and he gave him all the tools he needed to bring his A-game, which he did. He just started loving racing again. We saw it from the first race where he won his class. Right up to the end of the season, he never gave up and he just kept on enjoying it and loving what he was doing. God-willing Kwanda will be driving at the GT Masters in Germany this year.”

Jackson says that the ultimate goal for a driver like Mokoena is to get to Europe and be discovered by one of the manufacturers and become a factory driver.

“I find the young guys, train them and teach them about GT4 and GT3. I love this sport and I want to see youngsters succeed and make a name for themselves overseas.”

Mokoena says that things have really come together after a full year of driving with Jackson’s team: “It actually ended up going much better last year than we had anticipated in the beginning of the year. We had just thought about learning about the actual car, and for me to just get comfortable in the car. From the first race though, we saw that we had some quite solid pace and we could actually run with some top guys, which was a big boost in confidence, not just for me, but for the whole team.

“We’re always improving, getting better with the pit stops, and the lap times also showed that we’re getting quicker and quicker. As I got more comfortable in the car, it got better and better. I’d like to be a factory driver, so now I am keen to get to Europe and the big scene.”

The Kyalami 9-Hour Motorfest kicks off early on Thursday morning, 23 February, and over three days will boast over 180 cars competing in six support categories, with a full 12 hours of racing action each day.

The Kyalami 9-Hour race will start at 13h00 on Saturday 25th, and amongst other attractions, there will be a historic car demonstration and display, and prizes to be won at the Mercedes-Benz simulators at the ATK Arena. The Toyota Gazoo Racing Team will be doing gymkhana demonstrations.


Sources: Kyalami 9-Hour 
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