Eleven weeks after the action-packed TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, the second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli beckons this weekend. The Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS, held at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will have its second running following the inaugural event held last year. With a high-quality line-up of seven Mercedes-AMG GT3s in total, five Customer Racing Teams will be aiming at a top result in the eight-hour race.
With the Mercedes-AMG Teams AKKA ASP and Craft-Bamboo Racing, two Performance Teams from Europe and Asia will be taking on the challenges of the long-standing race track. French Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP, that has nominated an experienced trio of drivers, operating well together, with Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA), will be running with starting number #89. Following its tenth place in the season highlight at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the team is aiming at least at a podium finish for its participation in North America. Sharing a cockpit in various series already, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (both GER) will be driving the #99 GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing and will be supported by Jules Gounon (FRA). The three drivers already competed in the race in Belgium, partly with different teams. For Craft-Bamboo Racing, it is the first participation in this year’s IGTC season.
For last year’s inaugural running of the Indianapolis 8 Hour, the grid consisted almost entirely of US-based teams due to the Covid-19-related travel restrictions, but for this year, the field is considerably larger and more international. An entry of 41 cars is the largest field ever for an Intercontinental GT Challenge round in North America.
SunEnergy1 Racing will be competing in the Pro-Am class with a Mercedes-AMG GT3. In the Silver Cup, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport will be represented by WINWARD Racing. DXDT Racing is entering no less than three cars in the Pro-Am class for its home round. In the #4 car, Colin Braun, Ben Keating and George Kurtz (all USA) will be sharing driving duties. Last year, this combination secured the overall win in GT World Challenge America and first place in the Pro-Am class of the Indianapolis 8 Hour.
After 2020, the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway is part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge for the second time. The 3.925 kilometres long circuit in the American state of Indiana, in use as a permanent circuit since 1909, includes 14 corners. The eight-hour race, starting on Sunday at 4 p.m. CEST (10 a.m. local time) has replaced the round at Laguna Seca Raceway in California on the IGTC calendar.
The Indianapolis 8 Hour is just the highlight of a packed motorsport weekend at the “Brickyard”. In the first three hours of the race, the GT World Challenge America season finale will be run as well. The three Mercedes-AMG GT3s of American team DXDT Racing will complete the full race distance and therefore be classified for both series.
Pirelli GT4 America and GT America are using the weekend to conclude their seasons as well. Four Mercedes-AMG GT4 will be racing in Pirelli GT4 America, among them the #72 Murillo Racing entry with Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak (both USA), who have already been crowned as the Silver Cup champions. In GT America, two further GT4 cars and two Mercedes-AMG GT3s run by Customer Racing Teams will also be in the field.
Maro Engel, #99 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing: “For me, this will be the first time I am allowed to drive at Indianapolis. Having heard so much about this track already, I am very much looking forward to getting my own experience there. However, we haven’t come to learn, we have high ambitions and if possible, we would like to return home with the winners’ trophy.”
Raffaele Marciello, #89 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP: “Unfortunately not having been able to go the full distance at Spa, I am now looking forward to the next chance. I have had the pleasure of driving with my teammates more often already and I know how fast they are. When everything fits together, we have good chances to be in contention for victory.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “I am happy that our customer teams will be providing a large part of the field with seven cars in the second IGTC round at the legendary circuit of Indianapolis as well. Next to the established American teams, we can also rely on the support by very strong crews from Europe and Asia with AKKA ASP and Craft-Bamboo Racing. With this line-up, we are going into the 8h race in a positive way, trying to be successful in every class and winning the GT World Challenge manufacturers’ title for the third time in a row.”