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GT World Challenge America

Indianapolis Post-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ post-race notebook from inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour…

Photo: Fabian Lagunas/SRO

***BMW earned its first Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli win, becoming the sixth different brand do so in SRO Motorsports Group’s global GT3 series, joining McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Audi, Ferrari and Porsche.

***Walkenhorst Motorsport won the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2018 outright although BMW had not been a registered IGTC manufacturer at that time. 

***Runner-up finisher David Pittard admitted that he hadn’t completed a full stint on Pirelli tires until Sunday’s race, with the NLS veteran typically utilizing Yokohama rubber in the Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie.

***Despite having zero points from the season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, BMW, which scored maximum points on Sunday, have vaulted into the lead of the IGTC manufacturers’ championship, one point over Mercedes-AMG (43-42). Porsche now runs in third with 33 points, followed by Bathurst winner Bentley, which collected just a single point on Sunday.

***Jules Gounon, Jordan Pepper and Maxime Martin are still in the lead of the drivers’ championship, although their lead has been reduced to 1 point over Indy winners Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Connor De Philippi.

***The single point from Sunday was earned courtesy of K-PAX Racing repairing its No. 7 Bentley Continental GT3 following Pepper’s accident with a GT4 car early on. The car returned more than 30 laps behind, initially in 11th among the IGTC-nominated GT3 cars, and overtook the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes Evo, which retired with three hours to go due to suspension damage from a broken wheel.

***Pepper starred in the opening stint in wet conditions, keeping the Bentley out front on slick Pirelli tires until pitting for wets on Lap 9. It then handed the lead to the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes Evo of Martin Konrad, thanks to a call from Andris Laivins to pit the Gradient Racing-run Pro-Am class entry on the pace lap for wet tires.

***The No. 31 Team Hardpoint WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo battled through three punctures, which dropped the car to ninth, before Markus Winkelhock and Mirko Bortolitti’s charge to a fourth place overall finish.  It came despite a late-race drive-through penalty for contact with the No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Alessandro Balzan.

“Our new Belgian-American team combination and our three drivers never let themselves be irritated, proved their good sporting spirit and fought their way back to the front – they deserve our respect,” said head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke.

***Mario Farnbacher, who was part of the third-place finishing JAS Motorsport Acura NSX GT3 Evo squad, questioned race control’s wave-by protocol, which appeared to only be used at the race director’s discretion.  “It seemed like the rules changed during the race all the time,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s very weird there wasn’t a consistent [decision] from the rules.”

***Several cars, including the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura, did not get wave-bys while under an early yellow but others did, including the No. 30 Acura, later in the race.

***Colin Braun and George Kurtz claimed victory in the GT World Challenge America powered by AWS portion of the race, with the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes Evo placed fourth overall at the three-hour mark, one position ahead of the No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Martin Fuentes, who earned the Pro-Am drivers’ title.

***Fuentes won the title by 37 points over Braun and Kurtz, with Rodrigo Baptista, who was replaced in the Squadra Corse lineup by Alessandro Balzan this weekend, classified third in the championship.

***Trent Hindman/Shelby Blackstock (Silver) and Max Root/Fred Poordad (Am) previously clinched their respective titles prior to this weekend.

***Acura, meanwhile, claimed the GT3 manufacturers’ championship, despite a challenging opening three hours of the race for the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Hindman and Blackstock, who had two left-rear punctures.

***Only three GT3 cars had been nominated to score GTWC America points on Sunday, with other series regulars having opted to focus entirely on the IGTC race and the slight variance in the rules between the two series.

***An effort was made pre-event to merge as much of the sporting regulations between GTWC America and IGTC.

***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel told Sportscar365 post-race that he felt the event was a “good first step” despite not having the full grid of GT3 cars as intended pre-pandemic. Ratel estimated there should have been 11 additional cars — all full-season IGTC entrants — that backed out due to COVID-19-related travel and financial complications.

“I think an event like like, with 95 cars in total, a 22-car grid for [Indy 8H], I think we’re not doing too bad considering the situation,” he told Sportscar365. “We went through this year. And I think if you go through this year, I think you can go through anything.”

***Ratel admitted getting manufacturers committed for 2021 has been a challenge but hasn’t given up on IGTC, despite uncertainty surrounding February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which may be forced to be canceled due to Australia’s strict travel restrictions.

Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report

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

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