No less than 33 cars will be on the grid for the second annual running and 2018 edition of the Laguna Seca 8 Hours. The race serves as the final round of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge and will not only see the contenders in the only global GT3 championship vie for the 2018 title, but also GT4 and TCR cars fighting for class honours.
Two manufacturers remain in contention for the GT3 championship. Mercedes-AMG leads the standings with 104 points after their perfect score at the Suzuka 10 Hours, but Audi are just 9 points behind heading into the final round.
Mercedes-AMG will nominate four cars in Laguna Seca, two each entered by Strakka Racing and Sun Energy1 Racing. Audi will try to close the gap with two R8 LMS from Audi Sport Team WRT and one from Audi Sport Team Land, all trying to bring a third consecutive Intercontinental GT Challenge title as well.
Mercedes-AMG drivers Raffaele Marciello and Tristan Vautier lead the overall drivers’ standings, with a 15-point advantage over Maro Engel. In order to maximise their chances for the drivers’ crown, Marciello will share the #43 Strakka Racing machine with Maxi Götz and Lewis Williamson and Vautier will drive the #175 Mercedes-AMG Team Sun Energy1 Racing entry with Maxi Buhk and Engel.
Their closest rivals, Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase, will also compete in two separate cars despite racing together for the first three rounds of the season and winning overall in Spa. Winkelhock joins the #19 Audi Sport Team WRT with Bathurst 12 Hour winners Robin Frijns and Dries Vanthoor, while Haase will be at the wheel of the #29 Audi Sport Team Land with Christopher Mies and Kelvin van der Linde.
Elsewhere, Porsche brings two 911 GT3 R machines to Laguna Seca, entered by American squads Wright Motorsport and Black Swan Racing. Black Swan Racing team owner Tim Pappas has a chance to claim the inaugural Bronze Drivers’ title of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Pappas will have to close a 20-point deficit to Kenny Habul, competing in the #75 Sun Energy 1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Habul has not finished lower than second this season.
Bentley will compete at Laguna Seca for the first time with two factory Continental GT3 cars and one by K-Pax Racing. Vital Speed Motorsports will bring its spectacular Ferrari 488 GT3 and American team PPM will compete with a Lamborghini Huracan GT3 as well.
Together with at least three Mercedes-AMG, one of which is entered by American squad DXDT, that makes 16 GT3 cars in total for the second edition of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours.
In GT4, thirteen teams representing eight manufacturers will be at the start this year. Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, Ginetta, Mercedes-AMG, Panoz and Porsche squads – all American based – will be part of the 2018 Laguna Seca 8 Hours.
GMG Racing will compete with their Audi R8 LMS GT4 while Utah-based Rearden Racing has entered two Audi R8 LMS GT4 machines for the event. GTS Am class titleholder Drew Staveley as well as Ian Lacy and Frank Gannett will compete in the #12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4.
The popular #50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 to be driven by Ian James, Preston Calvert and Matt Keegan will be racing in a tribute to their late team owner Don Panoz, who passed away last month.
Jade Buford, Scott Maxwell and James Pesek will represent Ford in the #10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4. Meanwhile, BMW will be well-represented by the Northern California-based team of Stephen Cameron Racing and their #88 BMW M4 GT4 as well as the RHC Jorgensen-Strom Racing entry with #113 BMW M4 GT4 which finished fourth in class at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Murillo Racing, with its powerful #34 Mercedes-AMG GT4 sports car and drivers Matthew Fassnacht and veteran Christian Szymczak, will be one team to watch in GT4 as will the dual Porsche Cayman Clubsport cars of the TRG squad.
The always-popular Aston Martin marque has a strong driver lineup for the California 8 Hours with veterans Charlie Putnam, Charles Espenlaub and Eric Lux in the #09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and the US RaceTronics team will bring its Lamborghini Super Trofeo to add some more spice to the GT battle.
Three TCR cars will also contest the Laguna Seca 8 Hours including one Audi RS3 LMS, entered by Canada-based team M1GT Racing and two Hyundai i30-N both entered by Bryan Herta Autosport. The former IndyCar driver and current IndyCar team owner will team up with his son Colton Herta for the event.
Action for the Laguna Seca 8 Hours gets underway on Thursday October 25th, with three test sessions. Friday October 26th sees the Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions followed by Qualifying on Saturday at 10.35am local time. Each driver of each car will get fifteen minutes to set a fast lap time, after which the average of the three lap times will be taken into account to establish the qualifying result. The fastest 15 cars will determine the sharp end of the starting grid at 2.40pm.
On Sunday October 28th at 9.15am the second running of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours will get underway and eight hours later the overall and class winners will receive their coveted California 8 Hours trophies.