It seems a lifetime since Jordan Pepper was part of the Bentley team that blasted to victory in the Bathurst 12-Hour, the opening round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli.
He is back in action this weekend for the inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour when a host of international teams and drivers take on America’s top GT racing talent.
Much has changed since the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour welcomed Intercontinental’s teams and manufacturers in February when Jules Gounon, Jordan Pepper and Maxime Soulet claimed Bentley’s first series win and, with it, the early Drivers’ Championship lead. Meanwhile, Mercedes-AMG currently top the Manufacturers’ standings with three long-distance endurance races still to come.
Local teams fielding entries on behalf of international manufacturers remains a core pillar of Intercontinental’s philosophy. And nowhere will that be more obvious than at Indianapolis where GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS provides the bulk of #IntGTC’s grid. As well as overall glory, its teams will be racing for domestic points during the first three hours, which collectively comprise the championship’s season finale.
The Brickyard is, of course, best known for the world-renowned Indy 500. But while IndyCar won’t be tackling the famous oval this weekend, it will take centre stage on Saturday when the same 14-turn infield layout as used by Intercontinental hosts the Harvest GP. The packed support roster also includes Pirelli GT4 America Sprint and SprintX, TC America and Skip Barber Formula Series.
A total of 23 cars – 13 GT3s and 10 GT4s – are provisionally set to start the Indianapolis 8 Hour, which stages North America’s Intercontinental GT Challenge race for the first time following three years at Laguna Seca. The present total is three more than contested 2019’s California 8 Hours and features seven of #IntGTC’s nine full-season marques.
Manufacturers’ Championship leaders, Mercedes-AMG, have the biggest presence thanks to three entries split between Intercontinental regulars SunEnergy1 Racing and GT World Challenge America frontrunners DXDT Racing. The latter’s lead pairing of George Kurtz and Colin Braun could yet win their domestic Pro-Am title, while David Askew and Ryan Dalziel are also likely to be at the sharp end.
GT World Challenge America’s Pro-Am championship leaders, Martin Fuentes and Rodrigo Baptista, comprise one half of Ferrari’s #IntGTC contingent. Squadra Corse are joined by fellow 488 GT3 runners Vital Speed, who count multiple IndyCar race winner Ryan Briscoe amongst their line-up.
Another heavyweight American team, albeit one competing in Europe this year, will oversee Bentley’s sole entry at Indianapolis. K-PAX Racing are no strangers to Intercontinental events – they were at Laguna Seca in 2017 and ’18, and will contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa later this year – but can now count on a full factory driver roster comprising championship leaders Jules Gounon, Jordan Pepper and Maxime Soulet.
Audi Sport, winners of the first two California 8 Hours, also have works drivers on duty at Indy. Markus Winkelhock – victorious at Laguna Seca in 2017 – and Mirko Bortolotti join Spencer Pumpelly whose Team Hardpoint squad are supported by factory-blessed WRT this weekend.
Elsewhere, full-season Intercontinental entrants Walkenhorst Motorsport make the trip on BMW’s behalf. 2017 California 8 Hours runner-up Connor De Phillippi and fellow factory drivers Augusto Farfus and Nicky Catsburg share one M6 GT3 while Martin Tomczyk, Nick Yelloly and David Pittard make their first appearance as a trio in the second. It will be Catsburg and Yelloly’s second long-distance race in as many weekends following their Nurburgring 24 Hours victory on Sunday.
Honda, who claimed California 8 Hours pole on their Intercontinental debut last season, can also count on two entries. Mario Farnbacher – the man responsible for that famous lap – shares the JAS Motorsport-run factory effort with Honda/Acura colleagues Dane Cameron and Renger van der Zande. Racers Edge Motorsports field two NSX GT3 Evos, although only the example featuring Trent Hindman, Shelby Blackstock and Robert Megennis is scheduled to contest the full distance.
Reigning Intercontinental GT Challenge champions, Porsche, are also represented by Wright Motorsports who entered the new-generation 911 at Laguna Seca last season. Fred Poordad, Max Root and Jan Heylen make up the team’s driver roster.
The rest of the entry features 10 cars and five manufacturers battling for GT4 class honours but not Intercontinental GT Challenge points.
Fans of acronyms and Porsches are well catered for thanks to TRG, BGB and GMG, while the latter also enters Audi’s sole representative.
But the king-of-initials crown is reserved for CCR Team TFB who run one of four M4 GT4s along with ST Racing, Bimmerworld and Classic BMW.
Motorsport USA (McLaren) and Notlad Racing by RS1 (Aston Martin) complete the GT4 entry.
The inaugural Indianapolis 8 Hour gets underway this Sunday at 10:00 ET / 14:00 GMT. Watch the race, as well as Saturday’s pre-qualifying, qualifying and Pole Shootout, live on SRO’s GT World Youtube channel plus the Intercontinental GT Challenge Facebook page and website.
INDIANAPOLIS 8 HOUR TIMETABLE (ALL TIMES ET)
Thursday 1 October
12:00 – 12:30: Bronze Test Session
Friday 2 October
10:20 – 11:35: Paid Test Session
13:40 – 15:10: Free Practice
Saturday 3 October
08:30 – 10:00: Pre-Qualifying – LIVE
12:10 – 12:25: Qualifying 1 – LIVE
12:32 – 12:47: Qualifying 2 – LIVE
12:55 – 13:10: Qualifying 3 – LIVE
17:30 – 17:45: Pole Shootout – LIVE
Sunday 4 October
10:00 – 18:00: Indianapolis 8 Hour – LIVE