Walkenhorst Motorsport has claimed a dominant victory in the inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour, with BMW scoring its first Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli win.
The German manufacturer netted a 1-2 finish in the U.S. leg of the global GT3 championship, led by the No. 34 BMW M6 GT3 of Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus and Connor De Phillippi.
While having started on pole, the black-liveried BMW took control of the longest-ever professional endurance race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the third hour after an early challenge from K-PAX Racing’s Bentley Continental GT3 ended in drama.
A collision with a GT4 car sent Jordan Pepper’s Bentley spinning on the back-stretch with suspension damage, resulting in a lengthy trip to the garage for the IGTC points-leading trio.
Issues for the No. 31 Team Hardpoint WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, including a left-rear puncture while in drying conditions after a rain-soaked start to the race, saw the American-Belgian squad lose ground.
The No. 30 JAS Motorsport Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Renger van der Zande, Dane Cameron and Mario Farnbacher proved to be the BMW’s strongest challenger until an electrical issue with the car’s eclutch system resulted in a lengthy delay during the team’s penultimate pit stop.
It came after Cameron brought the factory Acura back on to the lead lap — courtesy of a full-course caution and wave-by in the fifth hour — after losing ground due to an of-sequence pit stop early on.
Van der Zande, Cameron and Farnbacher finished one lap behind in third, with Walkenhorst’s No. 35 BMW of Nick Yelloly, Martin Tomczyk and David Pittard netting a runner-up result, 41.326 seconds behind the sister winning No. 34 entry.
It marked the BMW’s second endurance race victory in the last seven days, following the German manufacturer’s triumph in last weekend’s Nürburgring 24, also with Catsburg part of the lineup.
Walkenhorst’s last major endurance triumph, meanwhile, came at the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2018, back when BMW was not a registered IGTC manufacturer.
The No. 31 Audi of Mirko Bortolotti, Markus Winkelhock and Spencer Pumpelly was fourth, with the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Colin Braun, George Kurtz and Ben Keating taking Pro-Am class honors with a fifth place overall finish
Braun and Kurtz also won the season-ending round of GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, which was contested in the first three hours of the race.
Wright Motorsports’ Silver class Porsche 911 GT3 R lineup finished sixth, ahead of the No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura, which starred early on in the hands of Trent Hindman before sustaining multiple punctures.
Newly crowned GTWC America Pro-Am drivers’ champion Martin Fuentes was eighth alongside Squadra Corse co-driver Alessandro Balzan and Mark Issa.
A wheel failure for the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes Evo, which resulted in a retirement for the car, promoted the K-PAX Bentley into a points-paying tenth place finish in GT3.
It keeps Pepper, Jules Gounon and Maxime Soulet with a single-point lead in the IGTC drivers’ standings over Walkenhorst’s Catsburg and Farfus, who are the team’s season-long drivers in the No. 34 car.
Double BMW Victory in GT4
BMW doubled up with a 1-2 finish for its customer teams in the GT4 class, led by BimmerWorld.
Bill Auberlen took No. 82 BMW M4 GT4 to a 6.508-second win over the No. 438 ST Racing entry, taken to the checkered flag by Nick Wittmer.
Auberlen shared top class honors with Chandler Hull and team owner James Clay, who won a class title in TC America on Saturday.
The No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport completed the class podium in the ten-car field that was made up of Pirelli GT4 America competitors.
RESULTS: Indy 8H