Inaugural California 8 Hours Closing Fast

Alvaro Parente will return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to compete in the inaugural California 8 Hours with co-drivers Bryan Sellers and Ben Barnicoat. (Bob Heathcote Photo)

MONTEREY, Calif. — The California 8 Hours will feature many of the world’s top GT3 and GT4 sports cars and drivers in thrilling competition at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The event taking place Oct. 12-15 will conclude an action-packed doubleheader with Pirelli World Challenge where championships in the Touring Car categories will be decided.

The California 8 Hours is the third endurance event of the worldwide SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge series which is contested on four separate continents. The eight-hour race taking place from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, will be the longest professional race ever contested at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Intercontinental GT Challenge series, which debuted in 2016, began this year in Australia in February with the famed Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours followed by the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium in July and will conclude with the Motul Sepang 12 Hours in Malaysia in December.

This new GT concept is aimed at manufacturers, who are encouraged to use local teams to represent them in the international events for cost and time-effectiveness. They fly engineers and drivers around the world rather than cars and equipment. Many of the teams and cars from the North American-based Pirelli World Challenge are in action this weekend with familiar teams, cars and drivers seen throughout this year.

“We expect some outstanding GT3 and GT4 competition in the California 8 Hours with teams from Australia, Europe and North America,” said Stephane Ratel, president/CEO of the SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge series. “With the variety of sports cars and outstanding driving talent, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event will be another important part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge with three races in the series.”

Expected to battle for the California 8 Hours title this weekend are some of the sport’s most iconic brands including Porsche, McLaren, Audi, Acura, Mazda and Aston Martin as well as newcomer to the GT4 scene, British-made Ginetta. Drivers participating in the event hail from North America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa with accolades earned throughout the top levels of GT racing around the world.

“The variety of manufacturers and talented drivers and engineers brought in from around the world will make for a special event in addition to the Pirelli World Challenge competition that our fans know and love,” said Gill Campbell, general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “The California 8 Hours will be a high-speed chess game for the participants involved. The strategies of the teams and test of wills among the drivers make for compelling racing action. It is a great way to cap off our major event schedule during our 60th anniversary celebration at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.”