SALINAS, Calif. – The longest professional race in the history of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is set for this Sunday, Oct. 15, with the third round of the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, the California 8 Hours.
A strong lineup of auto manufacturers and international driving stars will battle for the top honors in the eight-hour event which features GT3 and GT4 sports cars at the famed 60-year legacy of the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road racing circuit east of Monterey Bay.
The California 8 Hours is the first North American round of the four-race, four-continent series which includes the legendary Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia, the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium and Motul Sepang 12 Hours in December.
“The California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is an essential element of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, of which the success is likely to grow next season with the Suzuka 10 hours joining the already iconic Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour and Total 24 Hours of Spa events,” said Stephane Ratel, founder & CEO, SRO Motorsports Group. “This year’s edition is a stepping stone in building up the GT-only endurance race America deserves, it was important to start it on the right foot, with a solid grid and a high level of competition. We are thankful to the manufacturers, teams and drivers who are supporting this inaugural event.”
Many of the top Pirelli World Challenge GT3 and GT4 teams and drivers will participate in the California 8 Hours including the recently-crowned Overall GT and Sprint GT champions, Patrick Long and his No. 58 Porsche 911. Long won both driver titles this year and Wright Motorsports took the team honors with Porsche capturing the manufacturers crown.
Long, a multi-time Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring winner, will team with veterans Jorg Bergmeister and Romain Dumas, both 24-hour endurance race winners. Dumas is also a three-time Pikes Peak Hill Climb champion.
But the Porsche trio won’t have it easy at MRLS this weekend with a strong Acura two-car effort from RealTime Racing with the No. 43 Acura of Ryan Eversely, Tom Dyer and Dane Cameron and the No. 93 Acura with Peter Kox, Mark Wilkins and Jules Gounon, the winner at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Audi will be well-represented with four different teams led by the Land Motorsports in the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS with Californian Connor De Phillippi, Christopher Mies and Christopher Hasse. The 25-year-old De Phillippi teamed with Mies to win his class last Saturday in the Petit Le Mans.
Other top Audi squads this weekend will include the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS with veterans Pierre Kaffer, Kelvin van de Linde and Markus Winkelhock. Van de Linde was part of the Land winning team also at Petit Le Mans.
Also in the Audi contingent will be the Team WRT with Robin Frijns, Stuart Leonard and Jake Dennis in the No. 11 WRT Audi R8 LMS as well as the No. 23 MGT1 Audi R8 LMS with Jason Bell and Lar Viljoen.