Late last week, Porsche of South Africa participated in a short private auction, and walked away with something that is really very cool, the Kyalami Grand Prix circuit. The circuit had come up for sale, and was being eyed by a few local land developers putting the track in danger of becoming a series of housing developments or office buildings. After a short bidding process, as you can see in the video below, Porsche eventually came out on top and took ownership proudly for only $19.5 million dollars.
What Does Porsche Gain From Purchasing Kyalami?
For their $19.5 million dollar winning bid, Porsche now owns the massively historically important track, which is located on the northern border of the city of Johannesburg, the single most affluent city in Africa. Kyalami has some excellent history to draw from, having hosted a total of 20 Formula One grand prix races between the late 1960s and early 1990s, not to mention countless sports car races. From the 1950s through the late 1980s, Kyalami also played host to a 9-hour sports car endurance race, which was occasionally held as a round of the World Sportscar Championship. True to their endurance racing history, Porsche has more Kyalami 9-Hour victories than any other manufacturer, eight in total. British racer and promoter of South African racing, David Piper, was a big proponent of Porsche Motorsport in South Africa, running a number of significant Porsche racing cars, including 904s, 908s, and 917s.
Since the 1990s, Kyalami has continued to host various international sports car, touring car, and motorcycle races, but their efforts to get back on the F1 circuit have been for naught thus far. Outside of the realm of racing, the track is frequently used for track lapping events for local sportscar and supercar clubs. The city of Johannesburg is stated to be home to Africa's largest population of millionaires, with more than 23,000 7-figure bank accounts calling the city their home. It would make sense, then, that many of them would be interested in exercising their cars on an historic track like this one.
Does Porsche Even Sell Cars in Africa?
As a matter of fact, they do. Porsche has four dealerships in the country of South Africa, one each in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Umhlanga, and Randburg. There are three further dealers installed in Angola, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Outside of the Chinese market, the Middle East and Africa are Porsche's fastest growing segment, and it is easy to tell that they are interested in furthering their reach in South Africa, and becoming the steward of the Kyalami circuit will certainly garner the company some all important 'good will'.
What Will Porsche Do With Kyalami?
With the purchase, it is uncertain exactly what Porsche will do with the track, perhaps letting it continue relatively unabated as they have done with the Nardoring that they purchased two years ago in Italy. Being that the South Africa market seems to be quite lucrative for Porsche at the moment, they could also spend some money cleaning up the grounds and updating some of the amenities before unveiling a new Porsche Experience Center at the circuit. Additionally, under Porsche's control, the circuit could potentially be brought back up to spec in order to bring in some more prestigious events, perhaps even regaining FIA certification. This could be a very interesting time for sports car racing in Africa.
Dieter Rencken, Formula 1 Journalist:
"I'm not convinced it has a Grand Prix future. However, there is a market in South Africa for one or two international motor racing events a year."
Kyalami means 'my home' in the native Zulu language. Now, it would seem, the track is Porsche's home in one of their fastest growing markets.
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