22 cars will tackle this year’s Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS, which hosts both 2023’s penultimate Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round and the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS season finale next weekend (October 5-7).
Defending winners Craft-Bamboo and Raffaele Marciello join forces once again, while reigning IGTC champion Dani Juncadella – who also scored victory at The Brickyard en route to the title – features in Mercedes-AMG’s second factory entry overseen by GruppeM.
2020 Indy winners BMW, meanwhile, lead Mercedes-AMG by nine points in Intercontinental’s manufacturers’ standings. They can also count on two factory-backed entries, both of which feature drivers’ championship protagonists.
So while the official list of BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche IGTC nominations won’t be confirmed until Monday, it’s already safe to make some assumptions.
Indeed, BMW and Mercedes-AMG have both entered two factory crews that will compete in the IGTC Pro class. This differs to Fanatec GT America’s Pro category, which mandates at least one Silver graded driver per line-up. IGTC has no such restrictions.
Each of the four all-Platinum crews also feature at least one IGTC title contender.
Jules Gounon tops the standings by 15 points but cannot seal the championship at Indy after being paired with Raffaele Marciello, who is 19 points behind. The Mercedes-AMG duo will therefore remain within a victory of each other at the Gulf 12 Hours regardless of Indy’s results.
Luca Stolz, who is tied second in the standings, shares GruppeM’s entry with Juncadella and Maro Engel. Theier own IGTC hopes were effectively ended at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa last time out.
BMW has also split its drivers’ championship contenders across WRT’s two entries.
Spa winner Eng lies tied-second in the standings with Stolz. He’s joined in the #30 M4 by Dries Vanthoor and Sheldon van der Linde who won the Kyalami 9 Hour but failed to finish at Spa.
Their original co-driver, Charles Weerts, moves across to the car shared by Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin who are five points behind Eng and 20 off the lead. Realistically, they must beat Gounon at Indy to have any chance in IGTC’s season finale on December 8-10.
Porsche doesn’t have an IGTC Pro entry to call upon but can include three of the four Fanatec GT America Pro crews amongst its Intercontinental quota. The manufacturer requires a significant points haul at Indy to remain a championship contender in Abu Dhabi.
There’s also Intercontinental’s Independent Cup contenders, three of whom are racing at Indianapolis after Kenny Habul and SunEnergy 1 were forced to withdraw from the event.
However, only Sky Tempesta’s Jonathan Hui can wrap up the championship before Abu Dhabi. He’s currently 13 points clear of Stephen Grove, while Antares Au – who scored the maximum 25 points at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa – starts five further back. Should both retire, Hui needs only to finish to be crowned champion.
Such entries are not subject to a nomination from their manufacturer and will score IGTC Independent Cup points regardless.
WRT Indy bound with two BMW factory crews
> BimmerWorld and ST Racing M4 GT3s also confirmed
Team WRT will spearhead BMW’s attack on the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS next weekend after its M4 GT3s and two full factory crews were confirmed for round four of this season’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli campaign.
BMW was the inaugural Indy 8 Hour winner in 2020 and leads the IGTC manufacturers’ championship by nine points ahead of the globe-trotting GT3 series’ North American leg.
But Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin are also in drivers’ title contention with two races left to run. And to that end BMW has doubled its chances by splitting them across its Belgian squad’s two entries.
CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa winner Eng lies tied-second in the standings, 15 points behind Jules Gounon. He’s joined in the #30 entry by Dries Vanthoor and Sheldon van der Linde whose own IGTC championship chances were severely dented with retirement last time out.
Their Spa co-driver, Charles Weerts, moves across to the car shared by Farfus and Martin who are five points behind Eng and 20 off the lead. Realistically, they must beat Gounon at Indy to have any chance in IGTC’s season finale at the Gulf 12 Hours on December 8-10.
Two more M4s feature on this year’s Indy entry list, and both are Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS regulars.
BimmerWorld’s Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen are currently third in their domestic standings and will be joined at Indy by Robby Foley. A Pro entry, this has the potential to challenge for overall honours against the international factory crews.
ST Racing, meanwhile, will be more concerned with Fanatec GT America and Indy Pro-Am honours. And to that end they can count on BMW factory ace Neil Verhagen who partners Samantha Tan and Jake Walker.
Each registered manufacturer is permitted to nominate up to four IGTC points-scoring cars, three of which can feature Pro crews. It’s therefore reasonable to assume that both BimmerWorld and ST will feature on the IGTC entry list when it’s confirmed next Monday.