Mercedes-AMG leads at the two-hour mark

28 October 2018

After two hours of racing the California 8 Hours, the lead of the race is in the hands of the #43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing car. The Mercedes-AMG holds a small lead on the #19 Audi Sport Team WRT and the #175 Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing car.

Sunny, but slightly chilly conditions for the start of the second edition of the California 8 Hours, at 9.15 on Sunday morning. Kelvin van der Linde, at the wheel of the polesitting #29 Audi Sport Team Land, held on to first place, even though Raffaele Marciello tried to pass him on the outside of the first corner.

The #29 Audi and the #43 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing stayed close to each other for the first hour of the race, up until the moment that Marciello found his way past Van der Linde. Shortly afterwards a first Safety Car-intervention was called, when the #99 Bryan Herta Motorsport Hyundai went off after problems with front right wheel.

At the beginning of that full course caution, Kelvin Van Der Linde was caught out, passing one of  the TRG Porsches under yellow. The #29 Audi was penalised with a drive-through, seriously damaging Christopher Haase’s title chances, especially since there was another drive-through penalty after an unsafe release. The other contenders – Raffaele Marciello, Markus Winkelhock and Tristan Vautier – all saw their cars in the top-3 at the two-hour mark.

In GT4 the #12 Ian Lacy Racing Ginetta led during the opening 90 minutes, after which the #51 Team Panoz Racing Avezzano took over. One of the contenders for the class win, the #22 Automatic Racing Aston Martin, lost a lot of time when the car ran out of fuel and had to be towed back to pitlane.

Shortly before the two-hour mark, a second safety car-intervention was called, after contact between the #46 PPM Lamborghini and the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG, with Kenny Habul at the wheel. Both cars were towed back to the pitlane. For Habul, leading the Bronze Drivers’ standings with a comfortable, but not decisive margin, getting back in the race could be crucial for his title chances.