A record-setting number of contenders from all over the globe are expected to converge upon The Brickyard as the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli championships make their North American stop in Indianapolis, Indiana, on October 15th to 17th.
This year will mark the fifth consecutive year that the IGTC series has competed on North American soil. The mid-October event also sees the record-number of entrants for this leg of the worldwide series, up nine entries from the previous record set at Laguna Seca in 2018. Additionally, the venue serves as the special final leg of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS championships where at least one championship and all the year-end podium positions still remain up for grabs.
The Race within a Race
Many of the season’s championships were decided at the last GT World Challenge America event in Sebring, where co-drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper swept the weekend to capture the Pro Drivers’ Championship and helped bring the Pro Team Championship for K-PAX Racing and the Manufacturer’s Championship for Lamborghini along for the ride. Still, the battle for the Drivers’ second and third places rages on with K-PAX teammates Lewis and Venturini, as well as Turner co-drivers Dinan and Foley and Winward principal Russell Ward all able to take home year-end hardware. Similarly, the final 3-hour stint at Indianapolis will also decide which Pro Team championship hardware goes to Turner Motorsport and which one goes to Winward Racing.
The effort from Jan Heylen and Fred Poordad in central Florida secured the Pro-Am Drivers’ Championship for them and put them in a good position to defend the Pro-Am Team Championship title, where both DXDT Racing and Racers Edge Motorsports are within reach of taking the top spot. And, while Conrad Grunewald and Jean-Claude Saada captured the Am Drivers’ and Team Championships after Watkins Glen, the remaining TR3 Racing driver pairs of John Megure, Bill Sweedler, Charlie Scardina and Onofrio Triarsi have to lay claim to the second and third year-end podium spots.
As the “race within the race”, the GT World Challenge America finale still sees top contenders lining up on the grid. K-PAX Racing’s No. 3 (Andrea Caldarelli and Corey Lewis) and No. 6 (Corey Lewis and Giovanni Venturini) cars are scheduled to complete the GTWCA field and earn the final points for their GTWCA championship titles, as are Winward Racing’s Russell Ward and Philip Ellis (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Turner Motorsport’s Michael Dinan and Robby Foley (No. 96 BMW F13 M6 GT3). All of the driver pairings will run the first three hours of the 8-hour enduro to secure the final GTWCA points of the season before taking on their third drivers for the remainder of the Indy 8 Hour; Mirko Botolotti for the No. 3 K-PAX car, Marco Mapelli for the No. 6 K-PAX entry, Marvin Dienst for the No. 33 Winward Mercedes-AMG, and 2020 Indianapolis 8 Hour Champion Connor De Phillippi in the No. 96 Turner Entry.
In the highly-contested Pro-Am division, we see the return of the No. 04 DXDT Racing pair of George Kurtz and Colin Braun running along with teammates Erin Vogel and Michael Cooper in the No. 19 Mercedes-AMG and team principal David Askew and Ryan Dalziel riding out in the No. 63 entry; their three-pronged approach is sure to give Pro-Am Team points leader Wright Motorsports and their Drivers’ Champions-elect Fred Poordad and Jan Heylen (No. 20) a run for their money to secure the championship. Also in that fight, GT3 Academy alumni Racers Edge Motorsports, whose weekend team of anchor driver Taylor Hagler and Dakota Dickerson will fight the uphill battle for the Pro-Am Team championship points that are still within reach.
Ian Lacy Racing drivers Frank Gannett and Drew Staveley will suit up to contest the No. 12 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 in their quest for year-end standings, as will returning entrants inception racing in the No. 70 McLaren 720S GT3 with co-drivers Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy behind the wheel.
Compass Racing’s starting driver line-up gets a shake-up for the weekend as the No. 77 Acura NSX GT3 sees usual driver Matt McMurry paired with series newcomer Ashton Harrison.
Adding to Lamborghini’s Manufacturer Championship final points tally are No. 88 Zelus Motorsports (Jason Harward and Madison Snow) and No. 91 Rearden Racing (Jeff Burton and Vesko Kozarov); both teams have run exhaustive, full-season dual series bids in the Lamborghini and are the two teams not expected to continue past the three-hour mark for the remainder of the race. Instead, additional drivers expected to jump in for hours four through eight of the enduro include: No. 04 Ben Keating, No. 12 Ian Lacy, No. 19 Thomas Merrill, No. 20 Max Root, No. 63 Scott Smithson, No. 70 Kevin Madsen, No. 77 Mario Farnbacher, and No. 93 Jacob Abel.
The Am class championships have been settled, but the bragging rights and the chance to enter into the Indianapolis 8 Hour extravaganza have called the champions and the competitors to the grid for one last go this year; No. 10 TR3 Racing’s Bill Sweedler and John Megrue will run the 180-minute sprint section of the race before welcoming third-driver Giacomo Altoe, while champions-elect AF Corse will see the No. 61 Ferrari piloted by the Jean-Claude Saada and Conrad Grunewald for the opening stint before adding Mark Kvamme for the Indy 8 Hour.
Catch All the Action from Anywhere
The weekend action begins on Friday with a paid test session at 9:20 am EDT, followed by the first official Free Practice at 11:20 am EDT. The evening closes with an all out extravaganza welcoming the field to Indianapolis with the Downtown Speedway Parade starting at 5:30 pm EDT.
Pre-qualifying begins on Saturday at 8:30 am EDT, followed by the separate Driver Qualifying Sessions Saturday afternoon starting at 2:00 pm EDT, and finally the Pole Shootout at 4:20 pm EDT before Sunday’s 8-hour affair that goes green at 10:00 am EDT, with the final GT World Challenge America checkered flag dropping at 1:00 pm EDT. Catch all the live timing and scoring at gt-world-challenge-america.com/live and live-stream all Qualifying sessions as well as the entire GTWCA and Indy 8 Hour races at GTWorld’s YouTube channel, or catch the Indy 8 Hour in two-parts on CBS Sports Network, with coverage for the opening leg of the race starting at 12:00 pm EDT and the last 2.5-hours premiering at 4:00 pm EDT.
For more information and tickets fot the Indianapolis 8 Hour visit ims.com.