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GT World Challenge America

Indianapolis Wednesday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Indianapolis 8 Hour IGTC/SRO America weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***The grid for Sunday’s Indianapolis 8 Hour is back down to 22 cars following the late withdrawal of the No. 80 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Kyle Marcelli and Ziad Ghandour, which had been scheduled to only take part the GT World Challenge powered by AWS portion of the race.

***It now means that all cars will run the full duration of the race. Five of the 12 GT3 entries, meanwhile, will also collect GTWC America points, which will be awarded at the three-hour mark to end its 2020 season.

***Winward Racing, which has run in all five GTWC America weekends this season, has also elected not to take part in the season finale this weekend, with a Mercedes-AMG representative citing the the age of the team’s previous-gen Mercedes-AMG GT3 as one of the deciding factors to forgo the race.

***The No. 1 Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo, which heads into the weekend in the GTWC America Pro-Am class championship lead, has underwent a late driver lineup change, with Rodrigo Baptista having been replaced by Alessandro Balzan. Mark Issa is slated to complete the lineup alongside Martin Fuentes.

***It means Fuentes will likely be crowned as a solo champion, should he complete the minimum drive time that’s needed to lock up the title.

***Baptista was one of several drivers in Belgium this week for the Total 24 Hours of Spa official test, which concluded on Wednesday. The Brazilian was part of K-PAX Racing’s split effort, alongside Alvaro Parente and Andy Soucek at Spa with Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli points leaders Jules Gounon, Jordan Pepper and Maxime Soulet focusing on Indianapolis only.

***Audi factory drivers Mirko Bortolotti and Markus Winkelhock arrived in Indianapolis late on Wednesday after taking part in the opening day of the Spa test on Tuesday. The pairing form two-thirds of the Audi Sport Team Hardpoint WRT lineup this weekend.

***Walkenhorst Motorsport, Team Honda Racing and SunEnergy1 Racing were among the full-season IGTC teams to miss out on this week’s two-day Spa test although, although along with one of the K-PAX Bentley Continental GT3s, will be allowed to take part in a dedicated IGTC test session during race week of the Oct. 22-25 enduro.

***RealTime Racing is supporting the JAS Motorsport-run factory Acura NSX GT3 Evo this weekend with support equipment and personnel, including team manager Nathan Bonneau, who along with team owner Peter Cunningham, are on-site. The longtime World Challenge entrant has not competed this year due to several programs not materializing.

***Dylan Murry has been a late call-up to replace Jan Heylen in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport for the eight-hour after Heylen was confirmed as the third driver in Wright Motorsports’ No. 20 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

***Max Root’s Bronze* derogation, which he has run all season in GTWC America, has not been granted for this weekend, forcing Wright to move to the Silver class. Ironically, Wright is the only Silver class entrant this weekend as Racers Edge opted to move its No. 93 Acura, featuring an all-Silver driver lineup, to the Pro class.

***Gradient Racing is running the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo this weekend, in what marks yet another new team to operate the Kenny Habul-led program. The U.S.-based Australian, who contested the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in a previous-gen Mercedes run by MARC Cars, is debuting an all-new chassis.

***Team Hardpoint WRT’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo was also flown in specifically for this event, with Audi opting to use a chassis from the Belgian squad instead of Hardpoint’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car. Team principal Rob Ferriol told Sportscar365 that a call was made to use the European-based chassis at the last minute.

“In the long run, running a separate chassis vs. the one we’re going to use at Petit [Le Mans] and Sebring… It’s the risk factor,” Ferriol told Sportscar365. “If something happens to the car or there’s a breakage and there’s a delay in getting a part. Stuff starts to cascade when you’ve got two three days between events. It’s just not enough time.”

***Hardpoint is undertaking five races over a six-week period, which began with last weekend’s WeatherTech Championship round at Mid-Ohio.

***Will Bamber, co-owner in Earl Bamber Motorsport, is serving as team manager in the Hardpoint side of the operation this weekend. The Kiwi has been Stateside since August helping run the IMSA team’s program, largely due to the shutdown of Asian motorsports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

***Pirelli GT4 America competitors completed a pair of practice sessions Thursday afternoon, in the start of on-track activity for the busy weekend that also includes TC America, Skip Barber Formula Series and the NTT IndyCar Series.

***A 30-minute paid Bronze driver test session will be the only on-track opportunity for Indy 8H competitors tomorrow, with Race 1 for GT4 America Sprint (1:15 p.m. EDT) and SprintX (5:05 p.m. EDT) kicking off the slate of races. Both will be streamed live on the GT World YouTube page.

***Up to 10,000 spectators will be permitted each day in selected portions of the grandstands, beginning on Thursday. Click Here for purchase tickets and for more information on attendance allocations.

***The Indy 8H marks the first spectator event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since the purchase of ‘The Brickyard’ by Penske Entertainment Corp, which has made numerous upgrades to the facility.

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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