Eight manufacturers will be represented on the starting grid of the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours later this year, in the third round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge.
Among the cars entered are two of the long-awaited Acura NSX GT3 cars, entered by RealTime Racing. One of their drivers is French youngster Jules Gounon, winner of the Total 24 Hours of Spa and second in the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings and newly-crowned ADAC GT Masters champion.
Gounon’s fellow Spa victors Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase remain in the Audi camp, although they no longer share the same car. Winkelhock is one of the drivers of the Audi Sport Team Magnus, while Haase will be sharing the Audi R8 LMS of Audi Sport Team Land. Audi, leading the Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer standings, have two more representatives with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and M1GT Racing.
Other manufacturers with a GT3 entrant include McLaren (represented by K-PAX Racing), Nissan (RJN Motorsport) and Porsche (Black Swan Racing, Calvert Dynamics, GMG and Wright Motorsport).
With the Total 24 Hours of Spa not counting towards the GT4 title, the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours is the second round of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge for GT4 manufacturers. Porsche (represented by GMG and Rearden Racing) and Ginetta (Ian Lacy Racing) will try to repeat their excellent season-opening results of the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, but they will have fierce competition from Aston Martin squads Automatic Racing and TRG.
MARC Cars Australia has two MARC Mazda 3 V8 cars competing in the invitational class, adding more colour to an already varied starting grid of the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours. A full entry list, with the complete driver line-ups, will be issued in due course.
SRO’s Stephane Ratel said: “The California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an essential element of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, of which the success is likely to grow next season with the Suzuka 10 hours joining the already iconic Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and Total 24 Hours of Spa events.
“This year’s edition being a stepping stone in building up the GT-only endurance race America deserves, it was important to start it from the right foot, with a solid grid bringing diversity and a high level of competition. We are thankful to the manufacturers, teams and drivers who are supporting this inaugural event and are looking forward to the second half of the 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge, with the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours and the Motul Sepang 12 Hours.”
“We are very pleased to see the growth in the inaugural Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” Greg Gill, PWC’s CEO added. “With over 20 cars and a balanced amount of U.S. and global teams this event is going to be excellent.”