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Intercontinental GT Challenge

McLaren, Van Gisbergen Lead GT Challenge Title Fight into 24H Spa

McLaren, Van Gisbergen out front in Intercontinental GT Challenge…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

Following its victory at Bathurst in February, McLaren GT heads into this weekend’s second leg of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Spa with plenty of momentium.

Shane van Gisbergen, Alvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb’s win in their Tekno Autosports McLaren 650S GT3 on Mount Panorama has put the British manufacturer with a three-point lead over Bentley in the manufacturer’s title race entering the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

ENTRY LIST: Intercontinental GT Challenge – Spa

GT Challenge awards titles to registered GT3 manufacturers and drivers taking part in the SRO’s inaugural three-round championship, which this year features the established GT endurance races at Bathurst, Spa and Sepang.

With Parente and Webb not at Spa this weekend, Van Gisbergen will be looking to maintain his lead in both GT Challenge as well as the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, having claimed wins in two of the first Endurance Cup races of the season.

The Kiwi teams with Come Ledogar and Rob Bell in the No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren this weekend, one of three McLarens eligible to score points in the second GT Challenge round of the season.

Bentley has both of its factory M-Sport Continental GT3s eligible for GT Challenge points as well, with Steven Kane and Guy Smith currently at a seven-point deficit to van Gisbergen in the the title race.

Kane and Smith are joined by Endurance Cup co-driver Vince Abril in the No. 7 Bentley this weekend at Spa.

Audi also remains in the hunt for GT Challenge honors, despite a challenging outing at Bathurst, with Laurens Vanthoor and Markus Winkelhock split at Spa with their Blancpain GT teams, WRT and Phoneix, respectively.

Vanthoor teams with Rene Rast and Nico Mueller in the No. 28 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, with Winkelhock in the No. 6 Audi Sport Team Phoenix entry, the only two factory-backed Audis in this year’s race.

The No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi is also eligible to score GT Challenge manufacturer points this weekend.

Mercedes-AMG, the fourth registered GT Challenge manufacturer, has come out in force to Spa with eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars, but the maximum of four nominated for GT Challenge points.

The Nos. 84 and 86 AMG – Team HTP Motorsport entries, featuring the likes of Maxi Buhk, Thomas Jaeger and Mercedes DTM star Gary Paffett, will be joined by the No. 88 AMG – Team AKKA ASP car and the No. 00 AMG – Team Black Falcon Mercedes.

Out of the Mercedes-AMG drivers, only Jaeger remains in the GT Challenge drivers’ championship title hunt, with 12 points on the board from his result at Bathurst in the Erebus Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.

Roger Lago, meanwhile, is the only registered driver from in the GT Challenge Am Drivers category that raced at Bathurst, with the Australian taking part in the race in a Reiter Engineering-prepared Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX.

While the inaugural champions will be crowned at the Sepang 12 Hours in December, news on the 2017 GT Challenge schedule, which is expected to expand to include a round in North America, will be announced on Friday during the SRO’s annual press conference.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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