This Sunday, the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge will be decided at the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours. Four drivers are still in contention for the title, each at the wheel of a different car: Raffaele Marciello and Tristan Vautier both represent Mercedes-AMG while Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase drive Audi cars.
The Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca enjoyed plenty of sunshine today, for both the Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions. All teams and drivers completed their preparations for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race without major hiccups.
The drivers’ championship will be decided through a four-way fight. Raffaele Marciello and Tristan Vautier lead the standings, with an 18-point advantage over Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase. Although both duos raced together during the first three rounds of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, their respective manufacturers (Mercedes-AMG and Audi) split them up for the season finale, in order to maximise their chances for the drivers’ title. We caught up with the four of them.
Raffaele Marciello (#43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing, 58 points): “The fact that Tristan and I do not drive together for this race is not really an issue, nor the fact that I have switched teams. The important thing is that Mercedes-AMG take the manufacturers’ title, so we will both try to score as many points as possible. It is the first time that I race at the Laguna Seca Raceway, but it’s not such a difficult track to learn.”
Tristan Vautier (#175 Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing, 58 points): “It is a bit of a bizarre feeling not to drive with Raffaele. We’ve shared the car for the whole season, in other championships as well. But the decision to split us up makes sense, it gives Mercedes-AMG a bigger opportunity to claim the drivers’ title. Now it’s up to me to try and win it.”
Markus Winkelhock (#19 Audi Sport Team WRT, 40 points): “Honestly, I don’t think about the championship. I never do. I always focus on the event itself and try to drive an as good a race as possible. Once the race is over, I’ll look what my race result means for the championship. In my experience that’s the way to get the best possible outcome.”
Christopher Haase (#29 Audi Sport Team Land, 40 points): “The atmosphere between all the Audi drivers is good, so there is no animosity between Markus and myself over the fact that we are now at the wheel of different cars. I see this as an single event, and my main focus is to try and win the race. If that is enough to claim the title, great.”
For the manufacturers’ title two candidates remain: Mercedes-AMG leads Audi by nine points. The third title fight to be decided this weekend is the one for the Bronze drivers, where Kenny Habul (Mercedes-AMG) leads Tim Pappas (Porsche) by twenty points.
Saturday sees the Qualifying and Pole Shootout sessions, while the second edition of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours starts at 9.15am on Sunday morning.
TIMETABLE (UTC -7)
Saturday October 27th
10.35-10.50 Qualifying 1 – Driver 1
11.00-11.15 Qualifying 2 – Driver 2
11.25-11.40 Qualifying 3 – Driver 3
14.40-14.55 Pole Shootout
Sunday October 28th
9.15-17.15 Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours
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.