The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R led the inaugural 24 Hours of Circuit of The Americas at the overnight pause. Second was the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3. Among its driver line-up is IMSA regular Jeroen Bleekemolen. Third overall is the Gulf-liveried Mercedes GT3 of ROFGO Racing.
The race uses a split format with Saturday’s 14-hour day to night segment followed by the final 10 hours on Sunday. While this was necessitated by local noise regulations, it also makes for unique strategies.
The race is sanctioned by the SCCA and organized by Creventic, best known for the Dubai 24 Hours. This is its first foray into American racing. Some 41 cars in seven GT and Touring classes took the start and all bar three are still circulating.
The event is a test ground for new GT4 models. There are two Mercedes-AMG GT4s and one Aston Martin Vantage GT8. All are in the hunt for class honors although all have been delayed by minor woes.
Freddie Hunt, son of James, is making his endurance debut with a Porsche Cayman. Among the Americans present, brothers Chapman and David Ducote are in a BMW M3, Mckay Snow (brother of Madison) in a BMW M235i, and series regulars Charles Espenlaub, Charles Putnam, and Joe Foster are leading the Porsche Cup class. The Honda employee-staffed THR-W team has a pair of Civic Si-Rs with works driver Ryan Eversley on the roster. Dallas-based Classic BMW is in the M235i spec class.
Interim class leaders include Car the Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS in GT3 spec Am and the Brookspeed Porsche Cayman in the GT4 based class. The Team Altran Peugeot 308 leads TCR and the unique silhouette built by MARC Cars Australia heads the class for specials.
While most teams have been imported from the series’ European rounds, the Americans present have offered positive marks to this particular brand of endurance racing.
“It is a friendly mix of Pro and Am, yet is very competitive and they’ve added some interesting concepts such as Code 60,” noted U.S. sports car veteran Randy Pobst. He’s referring to Creventic’s Virtual Safety Car method of neutralization. Cars must slow to 60 km/hour, the pits remain open, and the field resumes speed when the track is cleared.
After being kept overnight in parc ferme conditions the morning restart uses the Part 1 finishing order and lap total.