Maxi Buhk says he was pleased with a second place run in Saturday’s California 8 Hours, which has seen he and GruppeM Racing co-drivers Maxi Goetz and Raffaele Maricello take over the lead of the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings.
The No. 999 Mercedes-AMG GT3 recorded its second podium finish in as many IGTC races this season following a hard-fought and caution-free race that was won by HubAuto Corsa and Ferrari.
Buhk, Goetz and Marciello capitalized on a mid-race retirement for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour-winning lineup of Matt Campbell, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen to take a 11-point lead over the Porsche trio, who failed to score any points this weekend.
The No. 912 Porsche drivers, as well as the winning HubAuto lineup of Nick Foster, Tim Slade and Miguel Molina, are now tied for second on 25 points apiece.
“It’s not just about having a result in this single event; it’s the whole championship because we’re competing in all five rounds,” Buhk told Sportscar365.
“On one point you have to accept that you maybe cannot win on the weekend. I think second place is quite good for the points.”
Buhk admitted they didn’t have the ultimate pace to the Ferrari, which claimed its first victory in IGTC competition.
“I made a super start, although it was a bit tight in the first two corners, but I made it through quite well,” he said.
“All in all, it was a very hard race without a safety car, without a single neutralization.
“As a result, we had to drive in a strategically clever way, which we managed.
“I wouldn’t say the Ferrari was in a different league but for sure they were surprisingly consistent over a stint. Some weekend it’s like that.
“It’s fine for me because a podium is always nice and we look at it as a whole.”
Marciello, the reigning Blancpain GT Series champion, also took a big picture approach from the weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“Like last year for me, I was consistent,” he told Sportscar365. “And to win a championship you should be consistent.
“We know the BoP is good in some tracks and bad in others.
“It is how it is but for sure we’re always there and we need to at least be in the top-five to fight for the championship.”
Mercedes-AMG also enjoyed a points haul on Saturday, having extended its lead in the manufacturers championship to 19 points over Porsche, thanks to its second and sixth place finishes by the GruppeM entries.
Ferrari, which had only a single points-earning car in Laguna Seca, has jumped to third in the standings, four points ahead of BMW and Audi moving up fifth.
While Buhk, Goetz and Marciello head into the third round of the season, the Total 24 Hours of Spa, as joint points leaders, they’ll unlikely leave the Belgian enduro in that position, due to the Italian’s full-season Blancpain GT Endurance Cup commitments that will place him in an AKKA-ASP Mercedes for that race instead.
A replacement for Marciello in the Mann Filter-sponsored Mercedes has been determined, according to the team, although not yet announced.