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The Kyalami Circuit is a motorsport circuit located in Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa. It played host to the former South African Grand Prix between 1966 and 1993, but is no longer used in Formula One. It is mostly known for its high altitude (1,500 m/4,920 ft), and the tragic accident in 1977 that took the life of Formula One driver, Tom Pryce, and track marshal, Frederick Jansen van Vuuren.

Circuit HistoryEdit

The track was commissioned and built by the South African Motor Racing Club. It is roughly halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, in an area that was originally rural, but has since been swallowed by the urban sprawl. The track opened in 1961, and soon became known for a 9-hour sports car endurance race, held in late November.

When it was felt that the Prince George Circuit was too short for Formula One, Kyalami was the logical replacement. The track held a Grand Prix every year from 1967 to 1985, but the 1981 race had it's championship status removed. Sanctions against South Africa's apartheid regime caused the race to be removed from the calendar after 1985.

Major steps towards dismantling apartheid allowed the race to be run in 1992 and 1993, but a decrease in the value of the Rand caused the promoter to go bankrupt, and the race has not been run since. In 2016, after the track was purchased by Porsche South Africa, and the completion of a major rebuilding project, the track received an FIA Grade 2 rating, and were in talks with Charlie Whiting for a Grade 1 rating. But the owners said that the Grand Prix would not resume without major funding from the government.

Circuit LayoutsEdit

Previous LayoutsEdit

1961-1985Edit

Kyalami 1968layout

The layout used for most of the Formula One races on this track. This layout was used from 1961 to 1988.

The original configuration was a fairly simple nine turn clockwise course, on slightly undulating terrain. The main straight was over a mile long, with a 20° right hand kink (known poetically as "The Kink") about 13 of the way down. Just past The Kink were the pits, and then the start/finish line. After the start, the course crested a hill, then dropped into a dip, before starting to rise just before the first turn. That turn, an uphill 120° right hand sweep, was called "Crowthorne". Then the cars were on a short straight, parallel and adjacent to one of the main highways between Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Then the cars made a tight 60° right, called "Barbeque". The led onto the back straight, which had a gentle kink in the middle, similar to the front straight. This kink was called "Jukskei Sweep", and bent about 30° to the left, the first left hand bend of the track. At the end was a sweeping right of just over 90°, called "Sunset Bend". Another short straight led to "Clubhouse Bend", a 120° left that was close enough to the front straight that spectators in the grandstand beyond the front straight could see the cars here, too.

It was here that the track started a climb up the highest local hill. After paralleling the main straight for about 14 of a mile, the cars negotiated a left-right combination known as "The Esses", which were deceptive, as the right hander was much sharper and tighter than the left. A short squirt up to the top of the hill, and a 150° righthander called "Leeukop Bend" puts you going downhill at the start of the main straight.

1992-1993Edit

Rsa 1066372-k5

The circuit in 1992 and 1993

The Grand Prix circus returned to Kyalami in 1992, and found a very different landscape. While apartheid was not yet gone from South Africa, steps had been taken to ensure its removal. Relaxation of internal travel restrictions had meant thousands were moving to the metro area almost daily, and a location that was out in the brush in 1961 was in the process of being swallowed by the urban sprawl. The owners of the track were not oblivious to the growth of the region, and sought to capitalize on the growth.

Where the pits, front straight and grandstands used to sit amongst the scrub, there were now corporate offices, electronic assembly plants and restaurants. Much of Kyalami was now a business park, with a portion of the old track incorporated into a totally new, counter-clockwise configuration. The part of the track kept went from Jukskei Sweep to the entrance to Leeukop Bend, but with the second part of The Esses widened and made faster. And most of the corners were now named after sponsors, rather than landforms and old property names.

The pits were originally placed to the south of the straight after Jukskei, but that structure had been abandoned by 1992. The new section basically went straight past Leeukop Bend a hundred meters or so, to a new double-apex hairpin called "Wesbank", for the finance company. The track now went downhill parallel to the uphill section and through an unnamed left hand sweeper, leading into a sharp, 135° right called "Continental", after the tire company. The straight that followed has a 45° right hand bend where the local poets had resurrected the label of "The Kink". This was followed by a 135° left (which went unnamed for several years) leading onto the current start/finish and pit straight (called the Brilliant Straight). This measured less than half a kilometer before hitting a 30° right (also unnamed) and then a sweeping 70° left (called Total) which was described by Alain Prost as the only really interesting corner on the revised circuit. The cars followed another shorter straight before making a gentle 45° left, followed almost immediately with a tight 90° left (called Nashua) rejoining the old circuit.

CurrentEdit

Event historyEdit

The following is a list of South African Grands Prix held at the Kyalami circuit. Non-championship events have a rose background.

Year Winning Driver Winning Constructor Report
1967 Mexico Pedro Rodríguez United Kingdom Cooper-Maserati Report
1968 United Kingdom Jim Clark United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Report
1969 United Kingdom Jackie Stewart France Matra-Ford Report
1970 Australia Jack Brabham United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Report
1971 United States Mario Andretti Italy Ferrari Report
1972 New Zealand Denny Hulme United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Report
1973 United Kingdom Jackie Stewart United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Report
1974 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Report
1975 South Africa Jody Scheckter United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Report
1976 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari Report
1977 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari Report
1978 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Report
1979 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari Report
1980 France René Arnoux France Renault Report
1981 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford Report
1982 France Alain Prost France Renault Report
1983 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Brabham-BMW Report
1984 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom McLaren-TAG Report
1985 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Williams-Honda Report
1992 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Williams-Renault Report
1993 France Alain Prost United Kingdom Williams-Renault Report

NotesEdit


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