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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Suzuka Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday Intercontinental GT Challenge notebook from Suzuka…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***All 35 cars taking part in this weekend’s Suzuka 10 Hours assembled Friday morning for a group photo on the start/finish line of the iconic circuit. A total of 15 manufacturers are represented, including GT3 machinery from Honda and Nissan. 

***While being a round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the race is largely being operated as a local event from promoter Mobilityland and Super GT organizers GT Association. It includes a primarily Japanese race control, with Blancpain GT Series race director Alain Adam included as a race steward only.

***Modulo Drago Corse is running a new Honda NSX GT3 chassis this weekend after its car was destroyed in an accident earlier this month during the Super GT round at Fuji Speedway. Honda Team Motul’s car, meanwhile, is the same chassis utilized in last year’s FIA GT World Cup in Macau, which was driven by Renger van der Zande.

***NSX GT3 program manager Lee Niffenegger, who is on-site helping oversee the Honda-supported entries this weekend, told Sportscar365 that discussions continue for a possible IGTC manufacturer entry next year.

***An Acura NSX GT3 could take part in October’s season-ending California 8 Hours, with CJ Wilson Racing having previously stated ambitions of entering. Niffenegger, however, has ruled out a factory entry for Laguna Seca following RealTime Racing’s effort last year.

***McLaren appears unlikely to be represented at Laguna, with a final decision not yet taken on its participation. Garage 59 is fielding the sole McLaren 650S GT3 here this weekend.

***It would mark the end of the current GT3 operation, headed up by Andy Kirkaldy, prior to the changeover to McLaren Automotive’s new in-house operation that is undertaking development of the new 720S GT3.

***Head of Porsche Motorsport Frank-Steffen Walliser said they will have a two-car supported effort for Laguna Seca, alluding the likelihood of Wright Motorsports operating an all-factory crewed Porsche 911 GT3 R alongside the season-long Manthey Racing entry. “We have a plan but it’s not [yet] communicated,” Walliser told Sportscar365.

***Walliser said its disappointing result at the Total 24 Hours of Spa has not impacted the German manufacturer’s short-term IGTC commitment.  “I do not tend to give up just because of the points,” he said. “It’s also experience and learning.”

***Porsche is supporting three teams here this weekend, in Manthey, Craft Bamboo Racing and Japanese-based D’station Racing, which runs factory driver Sven Mueller in Super GT. “We’re giving local support of the Japanese market,” Walliser said. “But it’s also to underline the original idea of taking a local team and participate [through] them.”

***The FIA’s annual Balance of Performance test at Ladoux has been axed in favor of static testing for GTE and GT3 machinery. An engine dyno test is scheduled for September in France, while all cars will be subjected to wind tunnel testing at Sauber’s facility in Switzerland later this year. 

***Sportscar365 understands the move to dyno and wind tunnel tests has been made due to the unpredictable variables that come with on-track testing.

***Kenny Habul said he’s likely to have further Blancpain GT Series outings this year in addition to next weekend’s Sprint Cup race at the Hungaroring, but only depending on one condition. “If I can get away from work,” the solar-energy developer told Sportscar365. “I’m enjoying this too much!”

***Absolute Racing team director Ingo Matter told Sportscar365 they are eying a possible entry for Macau in November. The event saw multiple Audi R8 LMS cars entered last year, including factory entries from WRT. “We are in talks for Macau but nothing is confirmed. Let’s get over this one and look,” Matter told Sportscar365.

***Live streaming of the Suzuka 10 Hours will be available exclusively across Eurosport and Discovery platforms. U.S. viewers can watch live on Motor Trend on Demand, beginning Saturday at 9 p.m. EDT., with the race also available on the Eurosport player across Europe and Asia. The race will not be streamed through SRO’s typical YouTube and Facebook channels due to exclusivity rights 

***Eurosport will carry the final 90 minutes of the race across all of its channels, with English-language commentary from Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor starting Sunday at 10:30 a.m. CET.

***Timing and scoring, meanwhile, will be available as a live video streamed on Suzuka Circuit’s Facebook page.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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