This weekend’s California 8 Hours is a “great experience” for AKKA ASP’s first race in North America according to team principal Jerome Policand.
The newly crowned Blancpain GT Series championship-winning team is operating both SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale, with Maxi Buhk, Tristan Vautier and Maro Engel in the No. 175 entry and Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier and Luca Stolz are in the sister Pro-Am class car.
As it is not running any of its own entires at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, it means the French squad hasn’t had to ship its own cars to the U.S., easing the logistical challenges.
Policand said it makes it the perfect opportunity for the team to get a taste of North American racing.
“It’s a good experience for us because we are supporting SunEnergy1 which is a team that has been set up by Kenny,” he told Sportscar365.
“For the team, it’s a great experience. It’s our first time in the U.S., it’s our first time in Laguna, and it’s a nice place.”
The program comprises Habul’s European-based car, which ran in the Total 24 Hours of Spa and Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup round at the Hungaroring, as well as the Mercedes he campaigned in a partial IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Habul’s entries have been run by different teams at each IGTC event this season, with Scott Taylor Motorsport, HTP Motorsport and Black Falcon supporting at Bathurst, Spa and Suzuka, respectively.
Policand explained that several changes had to be made to Habul’s IMSA car to prepare it for this weekend’s SRO-run event.
“The IMSA regulations are very different to the SRO regulations,” he said.
“To make the car ready, we had to change the chassis because it was broken and so on, but even the little details, to make the car allowed to do this race.
“It seems that in IMSA, there is more room to modify but in Europe, you have the homologation form and you have to do it like it is. It takes time, but it was a very good experience again.”
The team spent two weeks at the U.S.-based Australian’s shop in Charlotte before heading to Laguna Seca, with three mechanics and one engineer preparing the cars.
It then made the cross-country trek, in one of Habul’s U.S. transporters, to Monterey.
“We had time to check all the equipment and so on,” Policand said. “Basically, it’s not very different, it’s just sometimes we’re missing something we have in Europe.
“It’s different rules, with the gantries, the pit stops.
“We have to adapt for that but the work is more or less the same and Kenny gave me all the tools to do it properly. I hope we will enjoy it and carry on with him.”