Patric Niederhauser took Audi Sport Team Sainteloc to victory in a controversial Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS, following multiple late-race incidents and questionable calls in race control.
Audi, meanwhile, came four points away from clinching the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli manufacturer’s title with one race remaining in the global GT3 series.
The Swiss driver took his No. 25 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to a 11.958-second win over the No. 89 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Raffaele Marciello after a drive-through penalty for the No. 32 Team WRT Audi of Dries Vanthoor for failure to follow instructions from race control.
Vanthoor emerged as the overall leader after making a fuel-only final pit stop following an accident for the then-leading No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Callum Ilott, who slammed into a GT4 car after attempting an outside move into Turn 1.
Another full course caution was called moments after the restart for the second-placed No. 99 Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes of Jules Gounon, who collided with the No. 59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 of Ben Barnicoat, ending both teams’ days.
Niederhauser shared top honors with Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock, marking the French squad’s first major GT3 victory since the 2017 TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.
Winkelhock was not part of the post-race celebrations after leaving the track mid-race to catch a flight due to the imminent birth of his child.
The No. 3 K-PAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Mirko Bortolotti and Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Pro class champions Jordan Pepper and Andrea Caldarelli completed the overall podium in third.
K-PAX was the highest-placed GTWC America entrant despite the car not having scored points in the domestic championship.
Double Victory for Santieloc With Silver Class Honors
Sainteloc celebrated a double victory on Sunday with its Silver Cup trio of Aurelien Panis, Lucas Legeret and Nicolas Baert taking top class honors with a fourth place overall finish.
The result for the No. 26 Audi remains provisional pending a post-race investigation for the car entering a closed pit.
Sainteloc’s Silver class win came after late-race contact between the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi and Matt McMurry’s class-leading No. 77 Compass Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo, which ended in McMurry getting turned around and the Italian getting a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility.
McMurry and co-drivers Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison finished seventh overall and second in class. The team won the three-hour portion of the GTWC America race.
Pier Guidi’s late-race charge to fifth ensured the IGTC manufacturers’ title will go down to the wire in December’s Kyalami 9 Hour, with the Italian passing the No. 32 WRT Audi of Vanthoor in the closing laps.
The No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura of HPD GT3 Academy graduates Jacob Abel, Dakota Dickerson and Taylor Hagler completed the Silver class podium with an eighth place overall result.
Pro-Am class honors went to the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes trio of Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier and Martin Konrad, despite getting a drive-through penalty for a drive-time infringement with less than 90 minutes to go.
The Gradient-run Mercedes finished tenth overall in the 39-car starting field.
BimmerWorld Claims Back-to-Back Indy 8H Wins in GT4
The No. 36 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 of Bill Auberlen, James Clay and Chandler Hull picked up GT4 class honors, meanwhile.
Auberlen mounted a late-race charge after the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Tim Pappas dropped to a third place class result.
The Black Swan car had a two-lap lead at one point although was forced by race control to surrender one of those laps while under one of the 11 full-course cautions due to a wave-by error.
A subsequent yellow put Auberlen back onto the lead lap and in contention.
It was a BMW 1-2 in the class with the No. 119 Stephen Cameron Racing entry of Guy Cosmo, Tom Dyer and Sean Quinlan coming home second.
Despite losing pole due to an overboost penalty announced just minutes prior to the grid, the No. 68 Smooge Racing Toyota GR Supra GT4 led early until contact between John Geesbreght and the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari of Niklas Nielsen.
Nielsen would later serve a stop-and-hold plus 30-second penalty for incident responsibility, with the Toyota retiring due to steering damage.
RESULTS: Indianapolis 8 Hour