Endurance stars Long, Bergmeister & Dumas considered the favorites at MRLS

SALINAS, Calif. – So you want to put together a sensational driver lineup for the first SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge ever in North America, the California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca?

It might be a little difficult to top the three international sports car stars that have been lined up for John Wright’s No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R on Oct. 13-15 at the legendary 2.238-mile, 11-turn road circuit just east of Monterey.

Wright, whose racing operation is based in Batavia, Ohio, has fielded many of the top Porsches in North American sports car racing for many years. This year alone, Wright’s team captured the Pirelli World Challenge Overall GT and Sprint GT championships for the driver, team and manufacturer classes.

Now, the veteran sports car entrepreneur has secured a three-driver lineup to match any GT entry in the world with the likes of Patrick Long of the United States, Jörg Bergmeister of Germany and Romain Dumas of France in the longest pro race ever held at MRLS.

That stellar driver contingent has accomplished a list of championships and victories that include wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 24 Hours of Spa, 24 Hours of Nurburging, 12 Hours of Sebring, the Pikes Peak Hill Club, the SCORE Baja 1000 as well as numerous series titles worldwide.

This three-driver lineup must be considered a favorite when the green flag drops at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Oct. 15.

“We are pleased to welcome the Intercontinental GT Challenge to North America, and are encouraged by the interest our customer teams have shown for the event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Daniel Armbruster, president/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America. “It seems the challenge of competing in a true eight-hour endurance race was too good to pass up for many Pirelli World Challenge teams, even after a full season of intense competition.

“For the only North American stop on the Intercontinental GT Challenge tour, PMNA is stepping up our usual high level of customer support for Wright Motorsports, the PWC Overall and Sprint Championship – winning team with a special livery and three of our factory ‘works’ drivers – including current PWC GT Champion Patrick Long, Jörg Bergmeister and Romain Dumas. The weekend promises to be a world class affair.”

Long, the longtime American Porsche factory driver from Manhattan Beach, Calif., enjoyed a spectacular 2017 season in the Pirelli World Challenge with the Overall GT and Sprint GT point championships in the potent No. 50 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. But the 35-year-old veteran has years of endurance experience, especially with his PWC SprintX driving partner Bergmeister.

“Additional factory drivers and teams who have won international championships coming to Laguna Seca, what’s not to like about that?” said Long. “I look forward to the endurance element and the unique format will make for a great show. It adds a lot of planning for the Wright Motorsports team. They have been working hard to prep the equipment. I have been endurance racing with them before and they know how to get the job done. Strategy will be key.”

Bergmeister, a winner with Long this year in PWC SprintX, has victories in his career in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Jörg’s resumé is one of the finest in all of sports car racing worldwide and he is looking forward to taking with Long and Dumas at MRLS in the California 8 Hours.

“I’m really looking forward to competing in an Intercontinental GT Challenge race and doing another event with Wright Motorsports,” said Bermeister. “Patrick and I had a lot of success together in SprintX and adding Romain will only make our lineup stronger. I had a good result competing at Laguna Seca a few weeks ago, so I think the Porsche will be very competitive. In the final two hours, that’s when the fight is really on.”

Dumas, the three-time Pikes Peak champion and former World Endurance Championship title winner, returns to MRLS as one of the most accomplished endurance drivers in the world with two overall Le Mans wins, 24 Hours of Nürburgring and the 12 Hours of Sebring victories. Romain put on an incredible race with Dido Capello in the 2007 ALMS race at MRLS and makes his first appearance at the famed track since 2008 when he drove the Penske Spyder P2 car.

“I’m very happy to be racing in the U.S. again,” said Dumas. “The last time I raced at Laguna Seca was in 2008 so I’m excited to get back there and also to share a car with Patrick and Jörg again. I know that the Wright Motorsports team has been very successful so I know to expect a good package. Like any long race, this is going to be about making no mistakes, but also having an easy car to drive because Laguna Seca is known to be very unforgiving. I’m fully confident that the team will be able to provide that and think we will have a great shot.”

Some eight different manufacturers are bringing a variety of machinery for the California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca including Acura, Audi, Aston Martin, Ginetta, Mazda, McLaren, Nissan and Porsche.

Action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the California 8 Hours begin Friday, Oct. 13 with practice rounds with the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car Series also in action during the weekend. The California 8 Hours is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. PDT on Sunday, Oct. 15.

Live split coverage will be available on CBS Sports Network, with the race start being shown from 12p.m. EDT to 2 p.m. EDT, and race finish from 7 p.m. EDT to 8:30 p.m. EDT. MotorTrend OnDemand (www.motortrendondemand.com) and the SRO website (www.sro-motorsports.com) will have the coverage from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. EDT in the U.S.