for California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge Finale
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams will start on the outside pole in both the GT3 and GT4 classes in Sunday’s Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Raffaele Marciello qualified second in GT3 overall in the No. 43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in qualifying Saturday. Christian Szymczak clocked in second fastest in GT4 in the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
In addition to the pair of outside-pole starting positions, Luca Stolz was fastest in the GT3 Pro-Am class in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a lap time of 1:23.841 that was fourth quickest overall in qualifying.
The final race of the 2018 Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) season, both the start and finish of tomorrow’s 8-hour race on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca circuit can be seen live in North America on the CBS Sports Network.
The first two hours of programming begins on CBS Sports at 12 p.m. EDT with the live coverage picking up again for a final 90 minutes at 7 p.m. EDT. Motor Trend on Demand offers flag-to-flag coverage for the U.S. audience, with the race streamed on the GT World YouTube page for international viewers.
Season championships are on the line for Mercedes-AMG and several of its drivers.
Mercedes-AMG leads the IGTC manufacturer championship standings by nine points heading into Sunday’s finale.
Marciello and Tristan Vautier co-lead the driver standings by 18 points, but each will be in different Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries in tomorrow’s race.
Marciello, who turned a top lap time of 1:23.728 in qualifying, co-drives the No. 43 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Lewis Williamson and Maximilian Goetz.
Vautier co-drives the No. 175 Mercedes-AMG SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Maro Engel and Maximilian Buhk.
The No. 175 was the third quickest Mercedes-AMG GT3 in qualifying with Vautier setting the sixth fastest overall lap time of 1:23.854.
Stolz co-drives the No. 75 with Mikael Grenier and Kenny Habul, who takes a 20-point lead in the bronze driver championship into Sunday’s race.
In total, six Mercedes-AMG GT3 are competing in Sunday’s eight-hour race as well as a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT4.
In addition to Marciello, Stolz and Vautier turning half of the top six fastest times, Felipe Fraga was eighth-quickest – and second in Pro-Am – with a lap time of 1:23.922 in the No. 42 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Fraga co-drives with Nick Leventis and David Fumanelli.
Jack Hawksworth qualified ninth in the No. 44 Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he will share with Adrien Tambay and Christian Vietoris.
Set for the team’s major endurance race debut, the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of David Askew, Ryan Dalziel and Mike Hedlund will start the California 8 Hours from the outside of row eight after qualifying 16th Saturday.
In the GT4 class, Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) GTS competitors Murillo Racing have entered two Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the California 8 Hours.
Szymczak co-drives the No. 34 Murillo entry with Matt Fassnacht. Saturday’s second-place GT4 qualifying effort follows their best weekend of the year in the season-ending PWC race last August at Utah Motorsports Campus where Szymczak and Fassnacht finished third.
Jeff Mosing, Tim Probert and Justin Piscitell co-drive the No. 65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 that qualified ninth Saturday of the 14 GT4 entries in the California 8 Hours.
The California 8 Hours is scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m. PDT.
Raffaele Marciello, Driver – No. 43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 felt good today, I was able to push and qualifying went pretty well. We had a bit of traffic, but nothing too much to complain about, and we’re on the front row, so it’s good for the race. Pole was possible I think, but it’s an eight-hour race, so to start on the front row is a good position. We can be proud of what we have done so far, but now we have to focus on pushing tomorrow.”
Luca Stolz, Driver – No. 75 SunEnery1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We saw in the combined qualifying we were really strong in eighth position with a Pro-Am car and only used one set of tires. Then in the Pole Shootout we had quite a good run to position four in the end, fastest in Pro-Am, so we are all pretty happy. I think I could have even gone a little quicker, but not much, and it is really tight. The balance of performance is really good here. Watching all the others in the long runs, it looks like after 30 minutes the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has a little advantage. We are ready for the race tomorrow.”
Christian Szymczak, Driver – No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “The Mercedes-AMG GT4 is really nice to drive. The long wheelbase makes it less twitchy, so it’s really quite good over long distances and helps you keep your head on your shoulders. It never stresses you out too much, and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is a really good endurance car. That’s important, because it’s going to take consistency to be successful in the race. We will have a good start from the front row and we just need to go out there and run laps all day. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 is really good over long runs and, we hope, pretty good on tires. We are just going to conserve, bang out laps, have good pit stops and hopefully that will get us there.”