The 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge has its final round at the second edition of the Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours this weekend. Here is everything you need to know to enjoy an exciting season decider.
THE TITLE FIGHT
Last year, the inaugural edition of the California 8 Hours – the longest ever race on the Laguna Seca Raceway in its sixty years of existence – proved to be the season decider. Audi Sport Team Magnus took the win with their R8 LMS GT3, driven by Pierre Kaffer, Kelvin Van Der Linde and Markus Winkelhock. For the latter and for Audi that was enough to claim the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles respectively.
In 2018 the event will be the season decider again. As you can see in the graphs below, all three title fights are still open. For the manufacturers’ title two candidates remain: Mercedes-AMG leads Audi by nine points. Four drivers are still in the running for the drivers’ title: Rafaelle Marciello and Tristan Vautier lead the standings, with 18 points in hand over Markus Winkelhock and Christopher Haase. Although both duos have raced together during the first three rounds of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge, their respective manufacturers (Mercedes-AMG and Audi) have split them up for the season finale, in order to maximise their chances for the drivers’ title. The third title fight to be decided this weekend is the one for the Bronze drivers, where Kenny Habul (Mercedes-AMG) leads Tim Pappas (Porsche) by twenty points.
Points count towards the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles on the following basis. These are the same for all Intercontinental GT Challenge rounds.
1st 25 | 2nd 18 | 3rd 15 | 4th 12 | 5th 10 | 6th 8 | 7th 6 | 8th 4 | 9th 2 | 10th 1
Only the top-two entries nominated by manufacturers to score Intercontinental GT Challenge Manufacturers’ points will do so. Should more than two cars of a specific manufacturer finish in the top ten, these cars will be considered invisible and their points will be redistributed to the next eligible car.
If two or more drivers or manufacturers finish the season with the same number of points, the higher place in the Challenge shall be awarded to the holder of the greatest number of first places. If the number of first places is the same, the holder of the greatest number of second places, and so on until a winner emerges. In the case of manufacturers, the above criteria will be based firstly on the highest placed individual car, and in the event of a remaining tie then the second-best placed car.
If this procedure fails to produce a result, the driver or manufacturer (best placed individual car) who ranked best in the last race of the season will be ranked the highest in the season results.
Twelve of the 33 cars on the entry list are eligible to score points in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, with one more car including a driver eligible to score points for the Bronze drivers’ title. The other twenty cars are part of these categories: GT3 overall, GT3 Pro-AM, GTC, GT4/GTS and TCR, which all will have have their own rankings and podium ceremonies.
Three Paid Practice, Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions take place on Thursday and Friday before qualifying is staged on Saturday. The race itself starts on Sunday morning at 9.15am (local time PDT, GMT/UTC-7).
4x 15-minute sessions decide the grid: Q1, Q2, Q3 and Pole Shootout.
All three drivers per car must set a time in each session, with one driver in each session.
The fastest laps from each session are combined to decide the quickest 15 cars, which then progress to the Pole Shootout. Each team must nominate the driver who will take part in the Shootout and only the fastest flying lap per car will count. All cars will be on track at the same time and may complete as many laps as possible.
Race - Driver stints
Maximum driving time per driver: 195 minutes (excluding time in the pits).
In order for a car to be classified, each driver must have completed a minimum of 60 minutes behind the wheel (not including time spent in the pits).
Maximum duration of one stint: 65 minutes.
Pitstops - There are no specific pit windows.
Simultaneous refuelling and tyre changes are not authorised.
Pitstops that include refuelling are subject to a minimum pitstop time, which starts and stops when the car enters and exits the pitlane. That pitstop time is 101 seconds for GT3 and GTC cars, and 145 seconds for GT4/GTS and TCR cars.
Short stops for fuel and changing maximum one tyre, minor repairs, or changing all four tyres with no fuel, must have a maximum duration of 50.00 seconds.
For GT4/GTS and TCR cars only: any pit stop without refuelling but which includes changing one or two tyres must have a minimum duration of 50.00 seconds and any pit stop without refuelling but which includes changing three or four tyres must have a minimum duration of 85 seconds.
There will be a non-cumulative one-second tolerance, which may be used three times during the event.
Pirelli tyre allocation
Ten sets of slick Pirelli tyres will be marked per car. These sets must be used throughout the event, from Free Practice onwards. An additional set of tyres will be authorised for the cars qualifying for the pole shootout. This set of tyres may be used during the race but may not be used for the start of the race. An additional four ‘joker’ tyres may be used in the event of damage sustained to the regular allocation.
During free practice and qualifying, wet-weather tyres may be used only after the track has been declared wet by the Clerk of the Course/the Race Director for that session. For the Race, the use of wet-weather tyres is free.
Thursday October 25th
9.25-10.55 Paid Test Session 1
12.45-14.15 Paid Test Session 2
15.25-16.55 Paid Test Session 3
Friday October 26th
9.20-10.50 Free Practice
14.00-15.30 Pre Qualifying
Saturday October 27th
10.35-10.50 Qualifying 1 - Driver 1
11.00-11.15 Qualifying 2 - Driver 2
11.25-11.40 Qualifying 3 - Driver 3
14.40-14.55 Pole Shootout
Sunday October 28th
9.15-17.15 Laguna Seca Raceway California 8 Hours