From the 28th to the 30th of March the California 8 Hours will take place in Monterey, USA. The race at the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway is the second of a total of five stations of the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli. In the fiercely contested long-distance racing series, Mercedes-AMG leads the manufacturer classification after finishing third and fourth at the Bathurst 12-hour race. To defend its leading position in the US race, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach relies on four high-caliber Mercedes-AMG GT3s.
Two vehicles are managed by the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing. A cockpit is shared by Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER) and reigning Blancpain GT Champion Raffaele Marciello (ITA). The trio ranked The trio is currently ranked on the common second place of the drivers' standings. In 2018 Buhk already celebrated a podium finish with a third place in the 8-hour race of Laguna Seca. With a special motivation Marciello starts, who lost his own IGTC title chances at the same place last year, and therefore still has a calculation open with the race in California. GruppeM Racing's sister car will be joined by reigning Blancpain Endurance champions Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER).
The two Mercedes-AMG GT3s from STRAKKA Racing are also very well represented. In start number 42, IGTC Champion Tristan Vautier (FRA) arrives. The Frenchman finished third at last year's California 8 Hours, securing the driver's title of the series. Vautier shares the cockpit with two other reigning champions: Gary Paffett (GBR), who won the drivers 'championship of the DTM last year, and Lewis Williamson (GBR), who in 2018 became the Blancpain GT Series' best pro-Am driver Endurance Cups chose. In the # 43 STRAKKA Racing will bring the two Mercedes-AMG drivers Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Adam Christodoulou (GBR) at the start. The duo is reinforced by Christina Nielsen (DEN). As a two-time GTD champion of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the event at the Laguna Seca Raceway is a kind of "home game" for the 27-year-old Dane, one of the stars of North American motorsport.
Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: "We started well in Bathurst in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and now we want to build on that in Monterey. The California 8 Hours is an extremely demanding race where anything can happen – we experienced that last year when the IGTC final took place here. We were able to see an incredibly intense fight, in which we were able to get two titles, but unfortunately just missed the manufacturer's rating. Although this year's title is not yet here, in a series that only consists of five races, one should not allow any mistakes. Especially since the power density this year is extremely high, as we could see in Bathurst. Our goal at the Laguna Seca Raceway is to further extend our leadership in the Manufacturers' Championship. "
Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams and drivers California 8 Hours *:
|STRAKKA Racing||Gary Paffett (GBR), Tristan Vautier (FRA), Lewis Williamson (GBR)|
|STRAKKA Racing||Dominik Baumann (AUT), Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Christina Nielsen (DEN)|
|Mercedes-AMG Team GroupM Racing||Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)|
|Mercedes-AMG Team GroupM Racing||Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)|
* subject to changes at short notice