Connect with us

Intercontinental GT Challenge

Indianapolis Saturday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Saturday notebook on the eve of the Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS…

Photo: John Dagys

***The Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS field is down to 39 cars following the withdrawals of the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 due to an illness for Michael Dinan and No. 12 Ian Lacy Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 after an accident by Frank Gannett.

***It has reduced the number of GT3 starters to 26 cars, below the previous record of 27 entries that took part in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona that stands as the largest GT3 field to start a North American endurance race.

***The No. 59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 was the only car not to set a time in Pole Shootout after a gearshift problem according to Paul Holton. The car had posted the sixth quickest time in qualifying with Holton and McLaren factory drivers Rob Bell and Ben Barnicoat.

***This year’s Pole Shootout was expanded to 15 cars from last year’s ten due to the increased field of GT3 machinery taking part.

***Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Stefan Wendl praised the “team spirit” between its customers and other competitors that helped AKKA-ASP prior to the late arrival of its car and equipment due to delays in sea-freight, namely DXDT Racing that loaned them a spare Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo chassis for use in testing and Free Practice.

“Other teams helped out with measurement equipment, tools and things like that because they had nothing until this morning,” Wendl told Sportscar365. “This is what it’s all about. I’m really happy to see the local teams helping the international teams joining the event.”

***The No. 99 Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo chassis is set for its first race tomorrow after having been purchased by Lone Star Racing’s Dan Knox in 2020 but not yet raced due to the pandemic.

***Wendl explained that Mercedes-AMG initially had an agreement with Craft-Bamboo for the Suzuka 10 Hours, which was shifted to Indianapolis after the cancelation of the Japanese round.

***Jack Hawksworth said he’s had a “a lot of fun” after helping put Smooge Racing’s Toyota GR Supra GT4 on class pole for tomorrow’s race. The Lexus factory ace is making his first GT4 start alongside newly crowned Pirelli GT4 America Am class champions Kevin Conway and John Geesbreght, in an entry assisted by Riley Motorsports. The car is running in a factory Toyota Gazoo Racing livery this weekend.

***The No. 93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 Evo encountered gearbox issues on Saturday morning to bounce back to qualify 13th. The Taylor Hagler, Dakota Dickerson and Jacob Abel-driven entry was one of only four Silver Cup entries to make the Pole Shootout.

***Winward Racing team principal/driver Russell Ward told Sportscar365 they’re not taking any different approach to the opening three-hour Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS segment, where they will race for Pro class points before transitioning into a Silver Cup class entry for the remaining Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli portion of the race.

***Ward holds an outside chance of finishing second in the GTWC Pro class drivers’ championship. “We’re here to do as well as we can in both series,” he said. “The first three hours is important for us. We haven’t had an incredibly strong year in the Pro championship in GTWC America. We’ve had a couple of DNFs, a couple of penalties and we should have won a lot of the races. It would be really nice to come here and be leading after the first three hours.”

***Ward said he hopes to “fill the schedule” with as much overseas racing as possible next year that could also include a full-season IGTC effort with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. The Silver-rated driver competed in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup this year while the team will return to DTM competition in 2022.

***Lamborghini is targeting to have “at least one” Huracan GT3 Evo on the grid for December’s IGTC season-ending Kyalami 9 Hour according to its head of motorsport Giorgio Sanna, who told Sportscar365 that the Italian manufacturer is monitoring the “logistics problems” generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

***FFF Racing Team, which was due to take part in this weekend’s race, had previously committed to a full-season IGTC program with one car although the Chinese-backed team’s status for Kyalami is unclear.

***Sportscar365 understands there are prospects for up to ten local entries for the race, which will boost the overall grid in the third running of the event. It means the event is more than likely to surpass last year’s 12-car overall entry. 

***Sanna said Lamborghini is evaluating the possible promotion of one of its GT3 Juniors to factory status for 2022. He downplayed the potential of bringing in an external driver to the factory roster, despite Jordan Pepper’s strong performance seen this year with K-PAX Racing.

***Ben Keating, who is part of DXDT Racing’s defending Pro-Am class-winning lineup this weekend, told Sportscar365 he’s set to scale back to a Michelin Endurance Cup-only program with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year alongside a planned return to the FIA World Endurance Championship with a to-be-determined team.

***Keating, who owns 20 car dealerships throughout Texas, is in the process of acquiring six additional dealerships, which has eaten into his available racing time.

***Davide Rigon returned to the wheel of a race car for the first time on Saturday since his accident in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa in July. The Ferrari factory driver drove “a few laps” at Fiorano under the eyes of fellow works pilot Andrea Bertolini.

***Rigon would have been a likely candidate for AF Corse’s lineup here this weekend as the Italian had been part of the No. 71 car’s effort in GTWC Europe Endurance Cup that was entered by Iron Lynx.

***The No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 previously raced at the Road to Le Mans under the Spirit of Race banner. Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini drove the car in 2018 as part of a Michelin Le Mans Cup bid, while Rui Aguas and Kriton Lendoudis shared it in 2019.

***While its No. 71 car came over from Europe, AF Corse’s No. 51 machine – which sports a slightly brighter shade of secondary yellow – was already U.S-based. It’s understood that the chassis is a spare used by AF Corse for its Am entry in GTWC America.

***Dinan and Robby Foley are slated to take part in next weekend’s International GT Open season finale in Barcelona at the wheel of a TF Sport-run Aston Martin Vantage GT3, as they have done on selected occasions this year. Fellow Indy 8H competitor Inception Racing will be looking to lock-up the Pro-Am class title in the championship with Ollie Millroy and Brendan Iribe, meanwhile.

***CBS Sports Network will carry incremental coverage of the Indianapolis 8 Hour on Sunday from 12-2 and 4-6:30 p.m. ET. Complete live coverage of the second round of the IGTC season can be found on SRO’s GT World YouTube page beginning shortly before the 10 a.m. ET start.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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

Click to comment

More in Intercontinental GT Challenge