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Monterey Added to 2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge

Eight-hour enduro at Mazda Raceway planned for GT Challenge…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

The Intercontinental GT Challenge will expand into a four-round championship next year, with the addition of an eight-hour race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as a joint event with Pirelli World Challenge.

The event, scheduled for Oct. 14-15, will be eligible to GT3 and GT4 machinery, and although not being a points-paying PWC round, is expected to feature a large mix of cars from the series.

According to SRO Motorsports boss Stephane Ratel, an environmental restriction at the California circuit has limited the race to eight hours, which is believed to be the first of its kind in professional sports car racing.

“The idea would be to run another series in Pirelli World Challenge, like TC, in the morning to start,” Ratel told Sportscar365. “Then you can go straight onto an eight-hour race, which would be from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., or something like this.

“It’s the longest we could have because we don’t have the authority to go longer than this.”

Laguna Seca joins the Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Total 24 Hours of Spa and Sepang 12 Hours, which remains on the schedule for next year, with hopes of expanding to a fifth round in South Africa in 2018.

“We have 24 hours, we have 12 hours, we have eight hours and hopefully one day we have a nine-hour race,” Ratel said.

GT Challenge, which launched this year, is largely a manufacturer and driver-based series, with the vision of utilizing local teams and equipment for each round.

This year’s inaugural season features manufacturer involvement from McLaren, Audi, Mercedes and Bentley.

“Like I said, the idea is not to transport teams across the globe,” Ratel added. “It’s to use local teams and to fly engineers and drivers.

“Laguna Seca is definitely the place to do it. It has the heritage, it has the glamour. It’s good.”

2017 Intercontinental GT Challenge Schedule:

Feb. 4-5 — Bathurst 12 Hour
July 29-30 — Total 24 Hours of Spa
Oct. 14-15 — Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (8 Hours)
Dec. 9-10 — Sepang 12 Hours

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

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. someone

    July 29, 2016 at 11:21 am

    One I thought they were at their max alotment of noise days for the year already?

    Two 8 hours of Laguna will be amazing.

  2. jCage

    July 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Given the recent ahem, ‘challenges’ at Laguna Seca, this news is almost shocking. It would be awesome if the event goes ahead as planned, but we’ll see.

  3. Travis Baraki

    July 29, 2016 at 11:32 am

    This is fantastic news. Ever since the ALMS/Grand-AM merger, I have been itching for some dusky endurance racing.

    • Mike S.

      July 29, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Yes might skip IMSA race and go in October instead now. Yeah MRLS needs $2 million in short term operating expenses and $10 million in capital investment. Its losing $250k a year right now. God no NASCAR ownership please!

  4. NorthSask

    July 29, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I love the idea of the GT Challenge, except for the part about being aimed at manufacturers. It eliminates the entire point of GT3. Also, using local cars, rather than have teams travel and race for the season championship really limits the interest and growth that the series can garner.

    • Brian

      July 29, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Plus the restriction of the Corvette there and I’m sure lack of a Caddy (if PWC joins that weekend with their own races). No American GT3 car in America = No interest from me.

      • Ryan

        July 30, 2016 at 4:36 am

        Corvette racing has already stated they wish to run only in top tier factory racing.

      • Tim Klepsky

        August 15, 2017 at 9:00 pm

        Cadillac Racing will be there with both cars. There is no PWC event at Laguna Seca this year. But I promise you, we’re confirmed for the 8 hr.

    • NaBUru38

      August 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

      It’s not realistic to tell teams to race at Bathurst, Sepang, Laguna Seca and Spa-Francorchamps.

      A manufacturers championship is much more practical, not to mention easer to understand by casual fans.

  5. Rob Lomas

    July 29, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    There was an 8 hour race at Paul Ricard in 2010 for the season opening round of the Le Mans Series. On this front, it is not the first 8 hour professional sportscar race although being capped at 8 hours due to an environmental restriction is a new one for me.

    • Michael Almaguer

      July 31, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      Noise restriction placed on the track by it’s residential neighbors is my guess and I really hate that NIMBYs can dictate stuff like that but that’s what happens.

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