Last year, we watched with bated breath as the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit went under the hammer at auction on July 24th, sold for a measly sum of R205 million. As minutes passed, confirmation came that the track had been sold to motoring enthusiast and CEO of Porsche South Africa, Toby Venter. Kyalami had been saved! Now, the famous former Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit will be undergoing a major renovation – the plans of which were detailed yesterday.
The layout, as it currently stands, has been in place since the early 1990s – and the decision has been taken to redesign, and resurface the entire track. Earlier this year, FIA branded vehicles were seen around Midrand, and it has now been confirmed that Charlie Whiting, Safety Delegate for the FIA, was in town inspecting the track and offering his inputs to the process. After thorough track inspections and debates, the plans have now been finalised.
Final plans for the circuit include the following:
- A complete resurface of the track to meet international specifications.
- The lengthening of the existing main straight and adjustment of turn 1 to allow a straight of nearly 900m in length.
- A new turn 2, a tight left hand turn, leading to a series of bends and joining back to the original track at the existing turn 4.
- Changes to the circuit at the current turn 12.
- The upgrade of circuit safety in order to obtain a FIA Grade 2 license.
The changes to the circuit are expected to add about 6 seconds to lap times of the new layout compared to the existing one.
In addition to these changes, the revised circuit will revive the names of several famous turns, including The Kink at turn 1, Crowthorne at turn 2, followed by the Jukskei Sweep, and a new turn 5 named Barbeque. Other turn names include Sunset, Clubhouse, the Esses, and Leeukop, a fast downhill section called Mineshaft, a new corner called The Crocodiles, a fast second to last corner called Cheetah, and a final turn called Ingwe.
The entire Kyalami complex will be upgraded along with the track, including the building of a new underpass which will allow access to the centre of the track by means of a tunnel underneath the track. There will also be a new spectator area near turn 2, which will allow a view of nearly half the circuit. The old pit complex will also be revamped to serve as a secondary pit complex, whilst the pit entrance will be brought in line with FIA specifications. Several parking areas will also be resurfaced, with more parking available than ever before.
A key point made after the purchase of Kyalami was that Toby Venter wanted to upgrade the spectator areas around the track. His plans to do so include new areas to spectate from, in previously prohibited areas. 2 bomas in the centre circuit will also be removed to improve visibility of the track, and a new PA system will be installed in all general public spectator areas.
In order to maintain financial viability of the track, the conference centre and exhibition areas will receive a major upgrade, including ablutions, catering areas, and other requirements.
The site was handed over to contractors to commence work on May 12th 2015, and it is suspected the new circuit will be re-opened between the end of August and end of September later this year. With renewed interest from Bernie Ecclestone in recent years to bring Formula 1 back to South Africa, the revamp of Kyalami is the first step in regaining the right to host the prestigious event, last seen at the circuit in 1993.
Below, you can watch the simulation of the new Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit: