Lineups in the top class at the Indianapolis 8 Hour will be required to include a Silver-rated driver, according to SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.
A change to the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS regulations after the season-opener at Sonoma required all top category entries to include one Silver.
Ratel confirmed that this rule will also cover Indianapolis when cars competing in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli join up with the GTWC America field.
Indianapolis is the third round of the IGTC season, which started at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in May and continues next month at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.
It will also serve as the final round of the GTWC America campaign.
“We will keep it for Indy,” Ratel told Sportscar365 when asked if the Silver driver mandate will remain in place.
“We are adapting. At Bathurst, we did it with Pro-Am and required [teams] to have one Bronze in the car.
“There are very good Silvers, so I don’t think it will be a problem for the manufacturers.
“I think it is possible that the manufacturers have good Silvers and young professionals. So I don’t think it’s a problem to do [a Silver driver requirement] for Indy.”
The third running of the Indianapolis 8 Hour is set to look different compared to last year’s edition due to several sporting evolutions, including the condition to have a Silver driver in each top category entry.
Another change is that the full race duration will count towards the GTWC America championship after regional series points were awarded at the three-hour mark in 2021.
Furthermore, GT4 cars will be removed from the race in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of incidents, such as Ferrari driver Callum Ilott’s collision with an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 last year.
The elimination of the GT4 class was proposed by Ratel shortly after last year’s event.
“We have seen that IGTC is in a rebuild phase: it has been really complicated during COVID with races being canceled and postponed,” he said.
“It is best to adapt to the best interests in America for the event.
“We will make it a GT3-only event. It means we will have less cars [than last year] but it has not proven to work very well to mix GT4 and GT3 at the 8 Hour.
“It generated a lot of accidents, so I think it’s the right way to go.”
Logistics to Define Level of Overseas Involvement
Ratel is eager for the Indianapolis 8 Hour to again feature a mixed field of European and U.S.-based teams but stated that logistics challenges continue to affect that desire.
Seven international teams took part in the event last year, but there were some transportation dramas including the last-minute arrival of French squad ASP’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo which was delayed in the port of Norfolk, Va. for several days.
“We want to have international teams, but logistics is really complicated,” Ratel said.
“When we delayed the introduction of our partnership in Asia with the ACO, it was based on logistics.”
Sainteloc Junior Team, which won last year’s Indianapolis 8 Hour with an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo driven by Patric Niederhauser, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock, hopes to defend its victory but uncertainty over transportation prices is stalling its commitment.
“We would like to go, but today we can’t have a quotation for the transport,” Sainteloc sporting director Frederic Thalamy told Sportscar365.
“Today it is very, very complicated. With the cost of the fuel, they are not able to give you a quotation. We all use the same logistics platform, JAS [Worldwide].
“It’s a disaster because we can’t have any quotation for September. We can’t manage the cost of overseas transport today. Nobody is able to give you [accurate projections].
“If we run at Indianapolis, it will be the customer paying the cost for the car, tools and guys. If they are not able to give you a quote at the start of July, it’s a disaster.”
One of the overseas teams that entered Indianapolis last year, Akkodis ASP, has already ruled itself out of a return with the logistics situation forming part of its reasoning.
The French squad plans to contest the Paul Ricard-based FIA Motorsport Games three weeks later instead.