Taiwanese team HubAuto Corsa’s #27 Ferrari 488 GT3 won the 2019 IGTC California 8 Hours today after a near-flawless run at Laguna Seca.
Miguel Molina, Nick Foster, and Tim Slade as a trio were strong throughout the eight hours of racing to secure Ferrari its first win in the Intercontinental GT Challenge series since 2017, and the team’s first ever overall IGTC win. This accomplishment was made even more impressive as three men made their debut at Laguna Seca this weekend.
“It’s always important to write more history,” Molina said after the race. “I’m really happy, this is the first time that all three drivers were here in Laguna Seca and it was really important for the team to achieve this result. We didn’t start in the best conditions but we were building everything up and that was the key to the result today.”
The only challenge the team ran into over the course of the eight hours was a faulty wheel gun issue. The problem was a compressed air bottle, which powers the gun, running out of air. It cost them roughly twenty seconds in the pit lane but the car’s race-pace was more than enough to nullify the time lost.
Coming home in second was the #999 Mercedes-AMG GruppeM AMG GT3. This result moves Maxi Goetz, Maxi Buhk, and Raffaele Marciello into the lead of the Driver’s Championship after two races. Marciello was unable to chase down the leading Ferrari on the final stint with the gap between the two being roughly fifteen seconds during the final hour.
That gap is even more remarkable when you consider that the race ran green for the entire eight hours. It was a testament to the quality of the field we had, combined with the fact that only 20 cars took the green flag, down from 32 last year. Last year’s race winner completed 306 laps, while this time around the #27 Ferrari, and the three other cars to join them on the lead lap completed 327 tours.
Rounding out the podium was the #911 Park Place Porsche 911 GT3-R. A better result looked like it could have been in the cards for Park Place and the #911 Porsche. After leading in the middle stints of the race it dropped back as Romain Dumas, and eventually Sven Muller, and Mathieu Jaminet had to nurse a braking issue.
Dumas explained how the team dealt with the braking issues to DSC after the race.
“Once we discovered the problem with the brake we put on a lot of front brake [bias] and we just tried to do as good as possible.”
Dumas does not believe the braking issue is what cost the #911 Porsche a better result though, saying that “(we) lost more of our time in track position we were stuck behind some slower cars and could not pass and we lost time due to that. They [#27 Ferrari] were just better they were overtaking cars that we struggled to overtake.”
The #10 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 GT3 Evo ended the race in the fourth position, a decent result for Audi after its Bathurst struggles. The two Audis in the race failed to feature for the win once the race got going though, and struggled to match the pace of the Mercedes’ and #27 Ferrari.
It was a remarkably clean 8 hours, with the entire race running green. It presented little opportunity for teams to move to alternate pit strategies. The only teams to experiment with anything different were the two BMW entries from Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst. Their strategy calls were hurt by in-race penalties, which cost the team a potentially better finish.
The #42 BMW Team Schnitzer M6 GT3 of Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert, and Martin Tomczyk ended the race in fifth, ahead of the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 of Christian Krognes, Mikkel Jensen, and Nicky Catsburg which came home eighth.
The #29 Audi Sport Team Land R8 GT3 Evo, like the sister Audi, struggled for pace for most of the day. As a result, Kelvin Van Der Linde fell short of the win that would have been three-in-a-row from Laguna Seca.
Five hours into the race his teammate Markus Winkelhock was tagged in the rear by the #42 BMW of Martin Tomczyk. The contact sent the Audi spinning down the corkscrew. The car was undamaged but Winkelhock had to get out of the car earlier than expected due to his severe flu symptoms causing dizziness. The series waived the maximum drive time limit of three hours and fifteen minutes to allow Van Der Linde and Chris Mies to complete the race. They finished in seventh.
The race’s pole-sitting car, the #30 Honda Team Motul NSX GT3, was another entry which had a disappointing outing. The Acura-badged machine ran into issues with two hours to go when it suffered what appeared to be a suspension collapse on the right front. Farnbacher nursed the car back to the pits where the team got to work. It eventually rejoined the race, twenty laps behind the race leader, and finished thirteenth.
DSC was able to catch up with Rengar Van Der Zande after what was a disappointing first outing for the Acura NSX GT3 in IGTC.
“Obviously we came here not to finish almost last. We had a technical failure which we have to find out what happened. We had a pit stop penalty which shouldn’t happen so altogether there is much more to take out from this weekend to do better.”
The failure appeared to have been a collapsed suspension and Van Der Zande confirmed the failure was indeed unexpected as no contact had been with other cars.
“We gave it all at the end to see what the balance of the car was doing on the long run,” he added. “There is a lot to learn, but it has not been a successful weekend apart from the pole.”
Bentley’s weekend meanwhile, started poorly and ended that way for M-Sport’s #107 Continental GT. The car was plagued by a water leak in the practice and qualifying sessions had undergone an engine change before the race. After starting the race from the pits things just got worse for the crew as a gearbox selector issue sent the car to the garage in the third hour of the race. It was in and out of the garage from there before retiring with two hours to go.
After a great run at Bathurst for Porsche, the German marque came to Laguna Seca with high hopes of success, and for the first half of the race, it looked good for the #912 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-R. Dirk Werner pitted the car from the lead just after the halfway mark but grinned to a stop on the pit road. The team said the car lost drive and they pushed it behind the wall. It retired from the race about an hour later.
The #44 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 also retired from the race as a result of a steering issue. Gary Paffett, Tristan Vautier, and Lewis Williamson did well to keep the car near the front of the field and be the better performing of the two Strakka entries, but it ended up being for nought. They finished the race 19th overall, beating only the aforementioned #107 Bentley.
The GT4 class win went the way of the #41 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 of Chad McCumbee, Jade Buford, and James Pesek.
With just three entries in the class, there was not a ton to talk about in GT4, especially with so much green flag running the cars quickly spread out. The #41 Mustang dominated and finished the race nearly a lap clear of the second-placed #113 RHC Jorgensen/Strom Motorsport BMW M4 GT4.
Daren Jorgensen, Brett Strom, and Jonathan Miller drove the BMW and ended up on the second step of the podium. Third place in the class, and thus last, was the #67 TRG Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
The #88 ARC Bratislava Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo of Miroslav Konopka, Andrzej Lewandowski, and Zdeno Mikulasko, by default, took the win in the GTC class as the category’s only entry, finishing 14th overall.
The next race for the Intercontinental GT Challenge Series is the Spa 24 Hours on July 25-28.
Featured image courtesy of IGTC