Audi vs. Mercedes Championship Battle Among Storylines to Culminate at Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours

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The penultimate day of action at the Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours at Monterey County’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca decided the grid positioning for tomorrow’s eight-hour endurance event and awarded champions in Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America.

The leaders in the Intercontinental GT Challenge categories are Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing (GT3), Strakka Racing (GT3 Pro-Am), US RaceTronics (GT Cup), Team Panoz Racing (GT4) and Herta Autosport (TCR).

Intercontinental GT Challenge qualifying was completed with 15 GT3 teams invited back for the Pole Shootout based on the combined best laps of their three drivers while the rest of the grid were locked into positions. The quickest team average outside of the GT3 and GT3 Pro-Am classifications was a 1:28.771 made by the US RaceTronic Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan with co-drivers Taylor Proto, Richard Antinucci and 15-year-old wunderkind Stephen Aghakhani placing No. 17 overall.

The strong turnout of GT4 entries is led by No. 18 overall qualifier Team Panoz Racing, which is a sentimental favorite as they are racing in honor of the late Dr. Don Panoz, who made an enormous impact on American motorsports and endurance sports car racing in particular. Co-drivers Preston Calvert, Mathew Keegan and Ian James drove the Panoz Avezzano to a team average time of 1:31.917.

The TCR contingent consists of the two Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai I30-N which performed well considering the significant weight disadvantage their machines must carry compared to the other categories. The No. 99 driven by Mason Filippi, Sean Quinlan and Gregory Liefooghe clocking a 1:34.265 average. The No. 98 is driven by former Indy car driver Bryan Herta, son and 2019 INDYCAR rookie Colton Herta and George Kurtz.

Though two Mercedes-AMG teams topped the qualifying list, Audi had the final word in the Pole Shootout. Audi Sport Team Land selected drivers’ championship contender Christopher Haase to wheel the Audi R8 LMS, and the German driver delivered with a quick 1:23.660 lap. The top 14 qualifiers were separated by only 0.8 seconds.  

32 teams will be competing in tomorrow’s California 8 Hours feature event with all but one rotating a lineup of three drivers. The lone exception is the Murillo Racing GT4 team with ironmen Christian Szymczak and Matthew Fassnacht eyeing roughly four hours apiece behind the wheel of their Mercedes-AMG GT4 tomorrow.

Blue Marble Cocktails Radical Cup North America put a ribbon on its 2018 season with the final two races completed today and season titles awarded. Jimmy Casey cleaned the table in the Masters category by winning all three races in two days at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in a Radical SR8 2.7L V8.

Tickets will be available at the gate to witness the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the longest endurance racing event in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca history, from 9:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. tomorrow. Live coverage will be available during the first and last hour on CBS Sports, and live streaming will be available throughout on Motor Trend OnDemand and www.intercontinentalgtchallenge.com.