This year’s championship-winning Pirelli World Challenge GTS drivers and teams are among the GT4 class entries set for the California 8 Hours sports car spectacular, the final event on the Intercontinental GT Challenge, on Oct. 26-28 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The strong GT4 entrant list – to be joined by GT3 and TCR classes in the 30-plus car field – will compete in the fourth and final race in the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge series that included events at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa and Suzuka 10 Hours.
Outstanding GT4 machinery will be represented in the eight-hour contest including Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ford, Ginetta, Mercedes-AMG and Panoz as they vie for the coveted race win at the picturesque North California racing facility.
Leading the impressive list of GT4 entrants ready to battle on the legendary Monterey Peninsula 2.238-mile, 11-turn Northern California road circuit is the 2018 GTS Overall, GTS SprintX and GTS Sprint title-winning team, GMG Racing, with No. 2 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 machine scheduled to be driven by GTS champion James Sofronas, GTS Am race winner Jason Bell and veteran Andrew Davis. Sofronas won GTS races at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and VIRginia International Raceway this year.
Another championship effort, Ian Lacy Racing from Salt Lake City, Utah, will field GTS Am class titleholder Drew Staveley as well as Ian Lacy and Frank Gannett in the No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta G55 GT4. Staveley was impressive in the GTS division with an overall win at Lime Rock Park this year as well as numerous GTS Am category victories.
The winningest GTS machine in the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge series this year is also entered for the California 8 Hours with the popular No. 50 Team Panoz Racing Panoz Avezzano GT4 to be piloted by race winners Ian James, Preston Calvert and Matt Keegan. James combined for five GTS wins, in both GTS SprintX and Sprint divisions, while Calvert and Keegan scored two class victories in Panoz sports cars. The Panoz team will be racing in a tribute to their late team owner Don Panoz, who passed away last month.
The PF Racing team recorded three PWC GTS race wins in 2018 in the squad’s Ford Mustang GT4 and a solid trio of racers is coming to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with Jade Buford, Scott Maxwell and James Pesek in the No. 10 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4.
The BMW contingent will be well-represented in the California 8 Hours led by the Northern California-based team of Stephen Cameron Racing and drivers Greg Leifooghe, Henry Schmitt and Sean Quinlan in the No. 88 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 as well as the No. 113 RHC Jorgensen-Strom Racing entry with No. 113 BMW M4 GT4 with Derek Jorgensen, Brett Strom and veteran Kuno Wittmer at the controls.
One team to watch in the GT4 action will be another Northern California-based squad, Murillo Racing, with its potent No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 sports car and driver Matthew Fassnacht, a former PWC TCA series champion, and veteran Christian Szymczak.
The always-popular marque of Aston Martin has a strong driver lineup for the California 8 Hours with veterans Charlie Putnam, Charles Espenlaub and Eric Lux in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Utah-based Rearden Racing has entered two AUDI R8 LMS GT4 machines for the Oct. 26-28 event with drivers to be named.
Action for the California 8 Hours is scheduled to start with Free Practice on Friday October 26 and Qualifying and the Pole Shootout set for Saturday (Oct. 27). The second annual California 8 Hours will get underway at 9:15 a.m. PDT on Sunday October 28th.
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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.