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GT World Challenge America

California Saturday Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Saturday notebook from Monterey…

Photo: Rick Dole

***WC Vision CEO Greg Gill said this weekend’s joint event between Pirelli World Challenge and the SRO exemplifies the strong bond between the two organizations. Gill noted that on normal PWC weekends the SRO takes a primarily supporting roll, but that relationship was flipped this weekend as World Challenge served as host for the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

***Gill said the relationship this weekend is the same as the one that exists between the SRO and the organizers of other IGTC events, such as the Bathurst 12 Hour. “The SRO contracts a company on the ground to execute the event, but it’s the SRO’s event,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s all SRO. We’re here in a service roll, and that’s what we’re here to do: give them a great inaugural event.”

***Gill added that everyone has been pleased with the way the weekend has started, noting the quality of the drivers and teams that will take the grid for the California 8 Hours. Gill said all involved were happy with the car count for a first-time event, and he was bullish on the chances for growth in year two. “The inaugural Bathurst event had 17 cars in GT,” he said. “We’re looking at a similar number this weekend, and I think doubling that number next year is not out of the realm of possibility.”

***Only 13 of the 15 eligible cars participated in the Super Pole session as TRG was unable to repair the No. 3 Aston Martin GT4 in time following Thomas Merril’s qualifying crash. The team indicated that the car would be repaired and ready for Sunday’s race. The No. 99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin also did not participate.

***After an impressive showing stateside in 2017, Land Motorsport team director Christian Land indicated the Petit Le Mans-winning team is evaluating more races in North America next year. “We’re looking at the future and maybe there’s a chance to do more in the future in the U.S.,” he told Sportscar365.

***While the chassis the team is using this weekend is not the same that won the GT Daytona class at Road Atlanta, that car, which the team affectionately calls “Peggy Sue”, is here and on display this weekend.

***Several Land drivers, mechanics, and staff spent a few days following their Petit Le Mans win as houseguests of their driver Connor De Phillippi, who hails from nearby the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. It was a rare chance to relax after nearly two-weeks of flat out preparation to run endurance races in consecutive weeks in addition to the team’s European programs.

***The five Porsche factory drivers that are set to take part in the California 8 Hours have a combined 49 years at Porsche. Joerg Bergmeister, Romain Dumas, and Patrick Long have each held Porsche contracts for 13 years, while Wolf Henzler has raced for the factory for nine years. Sven Mueller has the least of the five, becoming a factory driver just this year.

***There are seven 24 Hours of Le Mans victories between four of the five. Dumas, with three, has the most Le Mans trophies including the overall win in 2016. Long has two; Bergmeister and Henzler each have one.

***The PWC Touring Car classes crowned their season champions on Saturday with a pair of races for the TC and TCA/TCB classes. Paul Holton swept both races in TC en route to the title for Compass Racing. Matt Fassnacht held on to win the championship in TCA, while the final TCB championship before the class is phased out went the way of series stalwart PJ Groenke.

***Compass Racing team principal Karl Thomson indicated that he plans to enter two Audi RS 3 LMS cars in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Championship next season in the series’ new TCR class. He said he expects Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing to be the driver lineup in one of the cars with the second lineup to-be-announced.

***Thomson said he expects both of his GS driver lineups for C360R’s pair of McLaren 570S GT4 entries to remain intact for 2018. Holton paired with Matt Plumb this past season with Nico Rondet and Mathew Keegan in the sister car.

***The inaugural California 8 Hours is set to begin at 9:15 a.m. PT on Sunday with live television coverage in the U.S. on CBS Sports Network running from 9-11 a.m. PT. and again from 4-5:30 p.m. PT. MotorTrend OnDemand will stream live from 11 a.m. PT – 4 p.m. PT. The world feed will also be streamed at www.SRO-Motorsports.com.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based broadcaster and reporter. In addition to his work covering primarily domestic sports car racing for Sportscar365, he is a pit reporter for SRO America's TV coverage as well as for IndyCar Radio. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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