• Christopher Haase Laguna Seca-poleman for the second time running
• Top-10 cars separated by less than half a second
• Kenny Habul best of the Bronze drivers on the starting grid
At the wheel of the #29 Audi Sport Team Land car Christopher Haase claimed a second consecutive pole position for the California 8 Hours, final round of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge. At the end of the 15-minute Pole Shootout title contender Haase proved to be 0,068 of a second quicker than Raffaele Marciello in the #43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing car. Dries Vanthoor (#19 Audi Sport Team WRT R8) was third fastest. The top ten cars competing in the Pole Shootout were separated by less than half a second.
Sunny and hot conditions for the Qualifying and Pole Shootout sessions today. As expected the fifteen spots for the Pole Shootout were taken by fifteen GT3 cars, with all title contenders among them.
It was immediately clear that the pole position for the 2018 season decider would be a close fought affair. Halfway through the 15-minute session, the top-7 cars were separated by under two tenths of a second.
For most of the session it looked like Raffaele Marciello or Dries Vanthoor would claim the best starting position for tomorrow’s California 8 Hours, but Christopher Haase had something else in mind. He left his qualifying run very late, and after a first lap he was only in eleventh. With most of the other competitors already parked in pitlane, Haase took his Audi Sport Team Land by the scruff of the neck and produced an amazing 1’23,660. Not only three tenths of a second quicker than last year’s pole – also set by Haase in an Audi Sport Team Land R8 – but more importantly 0,068 of a second quicker that the lap time of title rival Raffaele Marciello.
“I don’t know if it was really our plan to leave it that late”, a grinning Haase had to admit. “I left it to the team to make the decision. Once I got on track, I knew what pace was needed to get to the front, so that helped. As this is an 8-hour race, pole position is not that important. But as we saw last year, when we were also on pole, it is much more comfortable during the opening hours of the race. It is quite tricky to overtake on the Laguna Seca Raceway, so to start at the sharp end of the pack makes our lives easier.”
With the #19 Audi Sport Team WRT of Markus Winkelhock (driven by codriver Vanthoor in the Pole Shootout) in third and the #175 Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy 1 Racing car of Tristan Vautier in sixth, all Intercontinental GT Challenge contenders will start the season decider at the front of the grid.
In the battle for the Bronze Drivers’ title, Kenny Habul and Tim Pappas left the Pole Shootout obligations to their respective co-drivers Luca Stolz and Jeroen Bleekemolen. The former beat the Dutchman to fourth on the overall grid, with only 0,007 of a second in hand.
With the Pole Shootout an exclusive GT3 affair, pole positions in the other categories were decided during the three Qualifying Sessions on Saturday morning. In GTC the #6 US RaceTronics Lamborghini was quickest, GT4 pole position went to the #51 Team Panoz Racing Avezzano, while TCR honours were taken by the #99 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai.
The second edition of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours will get underway on Sunday morning, at 9.15am local time (UTC-7). The season finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge will be streamed live on the www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com and on the Facebook-page of the series.
HOW TO FOLLOW
All Qualifying sessions, Pole Shootout and Race will be streamed live on the website www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com and on the Facebook-page of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Fans in the USA and Canada can watch the race on CBS Sports (from 9am till 11am and from 4pm till 5.30pm) and Motortrend on Demand (full race).
Live Timing is available on www.tsl-timing.com/event/184306/
Social Media :
Facebook : Intercontinental GT Challenge
Twitter : @intercontGTC #IntGTC #cal8h
Instagram : @IntercontinentalGTChallenge #intGTC #cal8h
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past. The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group, the architect of modern GT racing
Over the past 25 years SRO has specialised in the promotion and organisation of motorsport series around the world.
Inextricably linked with GT racing’s revival in the early 1990s, currently SRO predominantly promotes series that adhere to the successful GT3 and GT4 regulations. Indeed, these rules – a common framework allowing manufacturers, teams and drivers to compete equally with one another – have helped to establish SRO as the global leader in customer GT racing.
Today, SRO’s influence and organisation can be seen around the world. Its flagship continues to be the European-based Blancpain GT Series, which features both the Sprint and Endurance Cups. Its annual highlight remains the iconic Total 24 Hours of Spa.
The same Pirelli tyres and Balance of Performance parameters governing the Blancpain GT Series have also been adopted in the United States by the Pirelli World Challenge (of which SRO is the controlling shareholder), while SRO expanded its successful platform East in 2017 by establishing Blancpain GT Series Asia.
In addition, the world’s best GT races from all four corners of the globe are brought together under the Intercontinental GT Challenge. The 2018 edition features four events – the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours, and the California 8 Hours of Laguna Seca.
SRO is also strong domestically. The multi-class British GT Championship, over which it has presided since 2005, pairs GT3 with GT4 machinery. The FFSA French GT Championship, for many years run by SRO, returned to the fold in 2017, and was added to the existing GT4 European Series. GT4’s incredibly successful first season in France provided SRO with the blueprint and confidence to expand the class’ European footprint further. A new regional series to support the flourishing GT4 class has been added in 2018: the GT4 Central European Cup.
In addition, SRO’s world-renowned Balance of Performance regulations are licensed by other series running GT3 and/or GT4 machinery, such as Super GT in Japan, the Australian GT Championship, the ADAC GT Masters and the VLN in Germany and the China GT Championship. SRO also works closely with the FIA when organising its prestigious Macau FIA GT World Cup race.
While Macau caters solely for professional teams and drivers, SRO also understands the important role amateurs play in GT racing’s global success and sustainability. That is why it operates the SRO Race Centre by MMC – a high-level technical centre at Circuit Paul Ricard in southern France – and Curbstone Track Events, which provide the ultimate track driving opportunities on world-renowned circuits. Many of its clients have subsequently graduated to the Blancpain GT Sports Club, the first competitive stepping stone towards gaining the confidence and racecraft required to compete in a Pro/Am environment.
SRO continues to focus on new initiatives that meet the demands of a fast-changing motorsport industry. In light of this, the organisation will launch the inaugural Bahrain GT Festival in November 2018, working in collaboration with the FIA and the Bahrain International Circuit.
This end-of-season event will feature two new standalone races: the FIA GT Nations Cup for GT3 cars, and the GT4 world final, the SRO GT4 International Cup. The Nations Cup will see drivers competing for international honour in the colours of their home countries, while the GT4 contest will bring together the global elite from this rapidly-growing category.
What’s more, SRO will also organise the first GT4 Europe Final at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit in October, creating yet another competitive challenge for the continent’s many GT4 racers.
SRO Motorsports Group is chaired by company founder and CEO Stephane Ratel and has offices in London, Paris, Liège and Hong Kong. Its dedicated team of full-time and freelance staff work with the support of numerous national sporting authorities and sanctioning bodies to offer teams, drivers and manufacturers the world’s best professional, Pro/Am and amateur GT racing platforms.