Gary Paffett disappointed not to finish final round of 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge in Kyalami 9 Hour race
The final round of the 2019 Intercontinental GT Challenge ended in disappointment for Clare driver Gary Paffett and his #44 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG as the team ran as high as second-place, before a collision ended their hopes of a podium.
The team got off to a solid start at the Kyalami 9 Hour race by finishing the first practice session of the weekend in second place as Paffett got to grips with the 16-turn, 4.522km anticlockwise circuit in South Africa.
Paffett was the first of the trio to hit the track in qualifying and put the #44 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG in 18th place after the first round; Paffett and the team secured 20th place for the grid of the 9-hour race.
Paffett got a fantastic start off the line and pushed his Mercedes-AMG through to 16th after the first lap and continued the upward trend as he came into the pits for his first pit stop from 13th place on lap 28.
After the pit stop, he was able to begin to record some rapid lap times as he fought his way through the field and, after all the cars in the field had taken their first stop, was running second by lap 37.
Maintaining second place for almost 30 consecutive laps, Paffett dived into the pits on lap 65 to complete a fantastic two-hour stint to put the team firmly in the fight for podium places.
Team-mate Tristan Vautier continued the strong progress and fought his way back up the field as strategies played out and ran inside the top five, before disaster struck.
On lap 98, just before the three-hour mark, Vautier was involved in a collision and was forced to pull up with a brake failure to bring the #44 car’s race to an early finish.
“Super disappointed to end the race and our IGTC season so early,” Paffett said. “I was really pleased with my stint and we got ourselves from P20 to P2 in the first couple of hours.
“Unfortunately, an incident and brake failure put us out of the race.
“A huge thanks to the whole team at Strakka Racing and Mercedes-AMG, and my two super teammates Lewis Williamson and Tristan Vautier. Luck just wasn’t with us this season.”
More by this authorHannah Dolman