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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Laguna Seca Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from Saturday’s California 8 Hours…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***HubAuto Corsa’s victory in the California 8 Hours not only came in the Taiwanese squad’s debut at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca but also the first outing at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn circuit for all three of its drivers, Nick Foster, Tim Slade and Ferrari factory driver Miguel Molina.

***Foster said it was a “massive credit” to its engineering group for achieving a suitable setup from rolling out of the container on Wednesday. “Right from the word ‘go’ we focused on the race car and with that came a bit of qualifying performance – I think that’s what really set us up for the day as we were quite good in the cool conditions compared to everyone else,” he said.

***The No. 27 Ferrari 488 GT3 had just one hiccup in the race when an airgun issue in one of its pit stops cost Molina the lead in the fourth hour.

***Saturday’s race saw a new distance record of 327 laps (732 miles) achieved, making this year’s edition the longest professional race in the track’s 62-year history. The 2018 race saw 306 laps completed by the winning Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS, while 306 laps were clocked in the inaugural edition in 2017.

***Owing to the competitive nature of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, five different GT3 manufacturers finished in the top-five, with six of the registered eight brands scoring points.

***Bentley Team M-Sport had another challenging outing, with its No. 107 entry retiring in the sixth hour due to gearbox/electrical issues. It came following an overnight engine change after battling a misfire on Thursday and Friday.

***The British manufacturer’s sister entry, driven Maxime Soulet and Bentley debutants Lucas Ordonez and Markus Palttala, finished two laps behind in 11th after struggling for pace.

***KCMG’s strong early showing became unraveled with a slow fuel delivery on its first stop for its then race-leading No. 35 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. It was followed by a lengthy stop in the fifth hour to fix the car’s diffuser, resulting in the car losing more than ten laps.

***A strategy call to stretch the stints of the BMW M6 GT3s to the 65-minute maximum ultimately did not pay dividends for either of the Team Schnitzer and Walkenhorst Motorsport entries, which both faced drive-through penalties for unrelated incidents and negated any possible advantage by taking a final fuel-only stop under the 100-second minimum full service pit stop time.

***The No. 42 Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3, however, still elected to take on quick service on its final stop, en route to a fifth place finish.

***Markus Winkelhock completed just 44 minutes in the No. 29 Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS Evo after being forced out of the car with the flu in the sixth hour. With the track doctor not clearing the German to return to the wheel, Kelvin van der Linde and Christopher Mies’ maximum drive time limits were negated on basis of force majeure.

***Van der Linde drove the Audi to the finish with a broken shock absorber, believed to have been damaged from Martin Tomczyk’s contact with Winkelhock in the Corkscrew.

***Power steering issues for the No. 44 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 saw the British squad’s IGTC return go unfilled. The Gary Paffett, Tristan Vautier and Lewis Williamson-driven entry was the race’s first retirement.

***Pirelli racing technical manager Matteo Braga said they experienced “no real surprises” in the race, which ran caution-free. “The P Zero DHD2 showed both performance and durability, coping well with the varied demands of this famous circuit,” he said.

***The event was run to a number of variants in the sporting regulations from a typical IGTC race, including the absence of Full Course Yellows (virtual safety cars) due to the lack of GPS tracking systems installed on the cars, as well as a different hierarchy in race control.

***Race Director Alain Adam said there are plans for SRO to adopt common regulations across all of its major races in the future. “It would be identical to the different Blancpain championships with particular regulation for each series,” he told Endurance-Info. “There will be a ‘big’ regulation plus different rules in Europe, Asia and the United States.”

***SRO Motorsports America President and CEO Greg Gill gave the command to start engines on Saturday, in a unique 8:30 a.m. PST start time. 

***A contingent of officials from the Suzuka 10 Hours will come to next month’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season-opener in Monza to observe SRO’s officiating system, which was not fully in place in the Japanese round last year but will be this time around.

Laurent Mericer contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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