The largest-ever entry for an Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli round in North America assembles at the world-famous Brickyard next weekend (October 15-17) when 41 cars tackle the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS.
2021 marks IGTC’s fifth consecutive visit to the US and second at Indy after Laguna Seca previously hosted the globetrotting GT3 championship in 2017-19. This year’s entry eclipses the championship’s previous best in North America by nine after 32 cars travelled to California in 2018.
The race also doubles as Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS’s season finale, while a GT4 entry featuring 13 cars adds an intriguing multi-class element that has been a feature of all Intercontinental rounds on American soil.
17 cars from IGTC’s five full-season entrants – championship leaders Audi Sport and Ferrari, plus Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche – are battling for Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ points, two international entries will compete for Pro-Am Challenge honours, and individual class podiums are on offer for the event’s best placed Pro-Am, Silver, Am and GT4 crews.
Only each registered marque’s two best placed entries can score Manufacturers’ points at Indianapolis, but that might still be enough for Audi to clinch its first IGTC title since 2018. Leaving the Brickyard with a 44-point advantage – one more than available for finishing first and second – would be enough to seal the crown before Kyalami’s season finale this December.
The same points-scoring limitations do not apply to each manufacturer’s nominated driver crews, all of whom will score points if they finish inside IGTC’s top-10.
AUDI – 4x R8 LMS GT3
Championship: 1st (43pts) | IGTC entries: 3x Pro, 1x Silver
Three Pro nominations and another Silver – the strongest possible combination permitted under IGTC rules at Indy – suggests Audi Sport fully expects to extend its 15-point Manufacturers’ Championship lead next weekend. What’s more, its three overall victory contenders feature patriotic Stars and Stripes liveries, just as they did in California three years ago.
The entries are split equally between Ingolstadt’s proven Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS factory squads and IGTC race winners: Team WRT and Sainteloc. Indeed, they’re two of just three outfits to have won multiple Intercontinental races since the championship began in 2016.
Newly crowned Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS champions Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts – who also lie second in the IGTC Drivers’ standings – are joined by Christopher Mies, while Mattia Drudi, Robin Frijns and Nico Mueller take charge of Team WRT’s second car. Mueller and Frijns are also firmly in title contention after completing IGTC’s podium in Round 1.
Meanwhile, Sainteloc’s works entry features three more drivers from the factory roster: Christopher Haase, Patric Niederhauser and 2017 IGTC Drivers’ champion Markus Winkelhock. The French squad’s Silver crew comprises Aurelien Panis, Lucas Legeret and Nicolas Baert.
FERRARI – 3x 488 GT3
Championship: 2nd (28pts) | IGTC entries: 2x Pro, 1x Am
Spa’s winning manufacturer has stated its IGTC intent by confirming go-to factory squad, AF Corse, will contest this year’s remaining Intercontinental rounds with a pair of Pro entries.
Both of Ferrari’s factory line-ups pack plenty of punch but it’s Alessandro Pier Guidi, Come Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen who head to Indianapolis atop the Drivers’ standings after sealing such a memorable victory in Round 1. Indeed, it’s perhaps fitting that theirs and the sister car shared by Antonio Fuoco, Alessio Rovera and IndyCar-bound Callum Ilott feature a hint of Belgium’s national racing colours thanks to Francorchamps Motors’ support.
The Prancing Horse has scored one previous IGTC victory on American soil, although that came at Laguna Seca in 2019. Either of these two Pro crews, who ordinarily race for Iron Lynx in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, certainly have the potential to add a second.
Should they falter, Ferrari will be hoping AF Corse’s Am contender – featuring American trio Jean-Claude Saada, Conrad Grunewald and Mark Kvamme – can contribute a point or two to the Scuderia’s total.
PORSCHE – 3x 911 GT3 R
Championship: 3rd (12pts) | IGTC entries: 1x Silver, 2x Pro-Am
The reigning Manufacturers’ Champions didn’t make the best of starts to their title defence at Spa and face another uphill battle next weekend after opting against sending a full factory line-up to Indy. Instead, Stuttgart’s honour is upheld by local teams and another international entrant, which collectively feature a Silver and two Pro-Am line-ups.
This apparent mismatch is accounted for in IGTC’s regulations, which prevent any more than each manufacturer’s two best placed cars from scoring points. As such, a solid run from this trio will likely have significance in the title race.
Clinching their domestic Pro-Am crown at Sebring offered Wright Motorsports the option of adding a second Pro driver. As such, regular duo Fred Poordad and Jan Heylen are joined by Max Root – the same combination that claimed Indy’s Silver class honours last season.
Meanwhile, GMG Racing have paired 2019 IGTC champion Denis Olsen with amateurs Kyle Washington and James Sofronas.
The third and final 911 GT3 R comes from much further afield – New Zealand via Malaysia – courtesy of EBM Giga Racing who, as well as being nominated by Porsche, are contesting Intercontinental’s Pro-Am Challenge. Adrian D’Silva is joined by Jeff Kingsley and Nicholas Boulle.
MERCEDES-AMG – 4x GT GT3
Championship: 4th (10pts) | IGTC entries: 2x Pro, 1x Silver, 1x Pro-Am
Mercedes-AMG also endured a tricky time at Spa and have responded by sending a host of factory talent and two international teams to bolster its American contingent.
Few line-ups top the firepower posed by Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Jules Gounon whose Craft-Bamboo squad are making their first IGTC appearance outside of the Asia-Pacific. What’s more, their entry is instantly recognisable thanks to sponsorship from iconic US autoparts specialist, Mooneyes.
There’s more factory talent in the form of Raffaele Marciello and Felipe Fraga who are joined by 2020’s overall Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS champion Timur Boguslavskiy at AKKA ASP.
Three Silver graded drivers – Russell Ward, Phillip Ellis and Marvin Dienst – comprise Winward Racing’s nomination, while IGTC stalwarts SunEnergy1 Racing run their regular Pro-Am trio of Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad and Mikael Grenier.
LAMBORGHINI – 3x HURACAN GT3 EVO
Championship: 5th (8pts) | IGTC entries: 2x Pro, 1x Pro-Am
Two US teams and five factory drivers split across three entries carry Lamborghini’s hopes at Indianapolis where the Huracan is likely to be a victory contender given its impressive Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS form this season.
Indeed, K-PAX Racing are sticking with the same trusted duo of Jordan Pepper and Andrea Caldarelli at Indy after wrapping up the Teams’ and Drivers’ titles at Sebring last weekend. Another factory ace, Mirko Bortolotti, adds further impetus to what will surely be a frontrunning entry.
Caldarelli’s season-long US commitments with K-PAX and Pepper have resulted in Lamborghini re-thinking its IGTC plans for Indy. As such, Marco Mapelli – who was scheduled to partner Bortolotti and Caldarelli at FFF Racing in all three IGTC rounds – moves across to a second K-PAX Huracan featuring fellow Squadra Corse driver Giovanni Venturini and home favourite Corey Lewis.
Those driver combinations have resulted in FFF Racing opting to skip Indianapolis. Instead, TR3 Racing’s Pro-Am contender – piloted by Bill Sweedler, John Megrue and Giacomo Altoe – completes the manufacturer’s IGTC nominations.
IGTC PRO-AM CHALLENGE
Although Pro-Am exists as its own class within the Indianapolis 8 Hour, a separate Pro-Am Challenge will also award points to two entries contesting all three of this year’s Intercontinental rounds.
While EBM’s Porsche shared by Adrian D’Silva, Jeff Kingsley and Nicholas Boulle is also nominated to score Manufacturers’ Championship points, Inception Racing is battling purely for Pro-Am Challenge honours.
The globe-trotting British squad run by Optimum Motorsport is known for sampling myriad series and standalone races as well as mounting a full-season International GT Open campaign in Europe. Indeed, regular drivers Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy are on course to win the Pro-Am title with one round remaining, and also took class honours on their Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS debut earlier this year at COTA.
They’ll race at Indy with Iribe’s compatriot Kevin Madsen who joined Inception’s crew at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa earlier this year.
FOLLOW INDY LIVE
A paid practice session kicks off this year’s Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS next Thursday before the first official session takes place the following day. Qualifying and Pole Shootout – featuring the 15 fastest qualifiers – are scheduled for Saturday before the race itself begins at 10:00 local time Sunday.
There’s live timing from every session on intercontinentalgtchallenge.com/live, while GT World’s free, globally available YouTube livestream begins from Qualifying.
INDIANAPOLIS 8 HOUR TIMETABLE (ALL TIMES EDT (-4 GMT))
Thursday 14 October
14:00 – 15:15: Paid Test Session
Friday 15 October
09:20 – 09:50: Bronze Test Session
11:20 – 12:50: Free Practice
17:30 – 19:30: Downtown Speedway Parade
Saturday 16 October
08:30 – 10:00: Pre-Qualifying
14:00 – 14:15: Qualifying 1 (Live stream)
14:22 – 14:32: Qualifying 2 (Live stream)
14:45 – 15:00: Qualifying 3 (Live stream)
16:20 – 16:35: Pole Shootout top-15 (Live stream)
Sunday 17 October
10:00 – 18:00: Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS (Live stream)
Source. SRO Motorsports Group