The second edition of the California 8 Hours, the final round of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, is starting to take shape, with an added number of entries and the addition of a TCR class set to exceed that of the 2017 grid.
Audi, Bentley, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – the manufacturers entered in the Intercontinental GT Challenge – will all bring their representatives to the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to decide the 2018 title battle.
One of the Audi teams that has already confirmed its entry is WRT, the Belgian squad that won the opening round of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge in Bathurst. They are likely to be joined by a couple of their American Audi colleagues, such as TruSpeed Autosport. Bentley will be making its debut in the California 8 Hours, supporting Team M-Sport. The British squad will bring two of the new 2018 Continental GT3 to California. Just as in Bathurst, Mercedes-AMG will be represented by Strakka Racing, entering two cars. Slovakian squad ARC Bratislava will race an Mercedes-AMG GT3, and there is an interest by US squads DXDT Racing and WeatherTech Racing.
Manthey Racing has already confirmed it intends to bring at least one of its well-known ‘Grello’ Porsche 911 GT3R to California, and more GT3 Elfers are expected, such as the one from Black Swan Racing; Tim Pappas’ team finished third in the Bathurst 12 Hour race.
Beside the cars fighting for the Intercontinental GT Challenge honors, the GT3 category will also welcome several other cars and teams. Several Ferrari squads have already shown interest in bringing their 488 GT3, while the eight-hour race can also count on the presence of a couple of other Italian dream machines, as Lamborghini teams from both sides of the ocean are working on bringing one or more Huracan GT3s to Laguna Seca. And after showing great promise in last year’s inaugural edition, it is most likely that the fans will again be able to admire the sleek lines of the Acura NSX as well.
The popularity of the GT4 category continues to increase in series all over the motorsports planet and the California 8 Hours is no exception to that rule. California-based squad RHC Lawrence-Strom has already confirmed the presence of at least one BMW M4 GT4, and is working on bringing a second. Classic BMW is aiming to further increase the number of cars of the Bavarian manufacturer. Competition will be fierce in GT4, with several US-based teams finalizing their entries.
With the TCR category playing an important part in the Pirelli World Challenge, the category will have a place in the longest race on the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca track as well. More news on the TCR entries will be made available at a later date.
“We are very pleased with the early response to the California 8 Hours,” said WC Vision president and CEO Greg Gill. “The increased grid is being driven by European teams, as well as U.S.-based teams who wish to race in a global race with some of the best sports car brands, drivers and teams on the planet, at one of North America’s most beloved tracks. This second annual event has the potential to become one of the more iconic stops on the Intercontinental GT Challenge circuit.”
The GT Cup class is reserved for cars from single-make series. While there are no confirmed entries in this category at this point in time, other rounds of the Intercontinental GT Challenge have shown that such machinery – a Lamborghini Huracan from the Super Trofeo or a Porsche 911 Cup from the Supercup for example – can compete.
“Initial feedback for the second edition of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours sounds very promising, and there’s no doubt the event is growing in stature in the context of an expanding Intercontinental GT Challenge,” said SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.
“It’s imperative that North America has a major race where GT cars compete for overall victory, while the Pirelli World Challenge also requires a much-needed blue riband event that brings together its GT, GTS and TCR classes. I strongly believe Laguna Seca has the potential to achieve both of these aims.”
The Total 24 Hours of Spa hosts round two of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge on July 26-29, before the Suzuka 10 Hours one month later (August 24-26). The California 8 Hours (October 26-28) closes out the campaign, which began in February at the Bathurst 12 Hour.