Eight auto manufacturers will be represented on the starting grid of the SRO California 8 Hours, third round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca set for Oct. 13-15. Among them will be two Acura NSX GT3, making its debut in the series at the MRLS 2.238-mile, 11-turn road racing circuit. Twenty-two entries are currently on the California 8 Hours entry list.
The eight-hour GT event will mark the longest professional race ever held at the famed Northern California road circuit which opened in 1957.
Two weeks before the start of the third round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the entry list for the inaugural Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours is nearly finalized. No fewer than eight manufacturers are represented in the first-ever North American round of the only global GT3 and GT4 championship.
“The California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an essential element of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, of which the success is likely to grow next season with the Suzuka 10 hours joining the already iconic Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and Total 24 Hours of Spa events,” said Stephane Ratel, founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group. “This year’s edition being a stepping stone in building up the GT-only endurance race America deserves, it was important to start it from the right foot, with a solid grid bringing diversity and a high level of competition. We are thankful to the manufacturers, teams and drivers who are supporting this inaugural event.”
Among the cars entered are two of the race-winning Acura NSX GT3 cars, entered by RealTime Racing. One of their drivers is French youngster Jules Gounon, winner of the Total 24 Hours of Spa and second in the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings. Gounan will team with Utah Pirelli World Challenge SprintX race winners Peter Kox and Mark Wilkins in the No. 93 RealTime Racing Acura HSX GT3.
Gounon’s fellow Spa victors Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase remain in the Audi camp, although they no longer share the same car. Winkelhock is one of the drivers of the Audi Sport Team Magnus, while Haase will be sharing the Audi R8 LMS of Audi Sport Team Land. Audi, leading the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer standings, have two more representatives with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and M1GT Racing.
With the Total 24 Hours of Spa not counting towards the GT4 title, the SRO California 8 Hours is the second round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge for GT4 manufacturers. Porsche (represented by GMG and Rearden Racing) and Ginetta (Ian Lacy Racing) will try to repeat their excellent season-opening results of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, but they will have fierce competition from Aston Martin squads Automatic Racing and TRG.
MARC Cars Australia has two MARC Mazda 3 V8 cars competing in the invitational class, adding more color to an already varied starting grid of the California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A full entry list, with the complete driver line-ups, will be issued in due course.
“We are very pleased to see the growth in the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Greg Gill, WC Vision president and CEO. “With over 20 cars and a balanced amount of U.S. and global teams, this event is going to be excellent. In addition, we have great field of Pirelli World Challenge Touring Cars set for the 2017 season finale on the same weekend.”
Action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the California 8 Hours begin Friday, Oct. 13 with practice rounds with the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Series also in action during the weekend. The California 8 Hours is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Sunday, Oct. 15.