25 GT3 cars will tackle the third running of the Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS next weekend (October 6-8) when Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli shares its US leg with Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS.
But while The Brickyard plays host to Fanatec GT World Challenge America’s season finale and title showdown, SRO’s globe-trotting GT3 series reaches only its three-quarter mark in the 2022 campaign, which concludes at the Gulf 12 Hours in December.
This year’s event differs somewhat from the previous two iterations in that only GT3 cars are eligible to compete, the race takes place on Saturday, and finishes in darkness under lights.
IGTC nominations will be confirmed on Monday. Until then, here’s how the grid shapes up across Fanatec GT’s various classes:
After a dozen races we’ve seen how the field performs with a two-driver lineup, single pit-stop, 90-minute race duration. Now, faced with an endurance racing format, beyond just raw speed, it will be a true test of grit and determination with a third driver and multiple pit-stops to manage.
Win, lose, or draw during the season, every team wants to finish out the year with a great result. That final event happens to be the biggest SRO Motorsports America weekend of the year, so we can expect strong efforts across the paddock.
When all of the combined SRO global events are summed up, Indianapolis will be race number 45 of an amazing 49-race series, where manufacturers’ points are gathered across the greatest racetracks of Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. In the Global Manufacturers points standings, Mercedes-AMG leads Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, McLaren, and BMW.
K-PAX Racing saw a return to the winners circle at Sebring’s high-speed circuit. Michele Beretta and Andrea Caldarelli swept the Florida weekend at the helm of the #1 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, guaranteeing both the 2022 team championship as well as the drivers’ championship for Caldarelli. The sister #3 car (Misha Goikhberg/Jordan Pepper) earned second and third place finishes, good enough for a season championship runner-up ending. Joining the K-PAX Racing team in Indy will be Lamborghini Squadra Corsa factory pilots Marco Mapelli in the #1 with Franck Perera joining the #3 squad.
The Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 (Michael Dinan/Robby Foley) has had great results mixed with bad luck. They won at Watkins Glen and claimed runner-up finishes at both VIR and Sebring, but have been caught up in on-track incidents elsewhere. For Indy, their lineup is fortified with American BMW Motorsport racer John Edwards in the mix.
US RaceTronics’ #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Steven Aghakhani/Loris Spinelli) started the season strong with four podium finishes in the first seven races. The team is set to return to the field after crash damage at Road America caused them to miss Sebring. Tristian Vautier is set to join the team at Indy.
Winward Racing’s #33 Mercedes-AMG GT of Phillip Ellis and Russell Ward should be well prepared for the fight. The team had a three race win streak that started at Watkins Glen and continued with a sweep at Road America. Jules Gounon, coming off his TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa win, joins the squad. A strong finish could leapfrog them past Turner for the final spot on the championship standings.
There will be no shortage of AMG V8 power in the Pro grid, as DXDT Racing’s #63 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be shared by German Patrick Assenheimer, Bryan Sellers, and Dirk Muller. This is a change up to the regular DXDT driver pairs as the team is switching from a pair of Pro-Am entries to one car in Pro and one car in Am.
The Craft-Bamboo Racing Team is a strong contender bringing two of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa overall winners into their #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Raffaele Marciello and Daniel Juncadella. They’ll be joined by World Challenge frontrunner Daniel Morad who makes his return to the series.
Ferrari returns with AF Corse Francorchamps, looking for redemption on its misfortunes a year ago while leading the race. A pair of Ferrari 488 GT3’s which will see the #51 with Pierre Ragues, Davide Rigon, and Miguel Molina behind the wheel while the #71 driving duties will be shared by Ulysse De Pauw, Antonio Fuoco, and Daniel Serra.
Every race at Indy should have an Andretti involved. The #218 Andretti Autosport x Vital Speed Ferrari 488 GT3 will be shared by Jarett Andretti, Jeff Westphal, and Ryan Briscoe.
Conquest Racing returns after a second place finish in Race 2 at Sebring with their #34 Ferrari 488 GT3. This time around, Cedric Sbirrazzuoli, Daniel Mancinelli, and Alessandro Balzan will be at the helm.
Diverse Grid Ready for Action in Pro-Am, Silver, and Am
The Pro-Am field has not only been the most populous class of the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge America season, but it’s also seen the closest competition. Nowhere is that more apparent than the points chase between the top three teams in the championship so far. There are five different makes in the top five. This is a Porsche, Mercedes-AMG, Acura, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin fight.
The #45 Wright Motorsport Porsche of Jan Heylen and Charlie Luck has scored three wins this season and just retook the points lead at the second Sebring race. Heylen and Luck have 191 points. Joining them at Indy will be Elia Erhart, who currently competes in SRO’s Fanatec GT2 European Series.
The highest placed Mercedes-AMG is the #45 CrowdStrike w/ Riley Motorsports entry for George Kurtz and Colin Braun. Kurtz and Braun led the mid-season points battle having scored three wins at three different tracks before misfortune hit them at Road America. They are currently second in the drivers' chase with 177 points. The team will be joined by Ben Keating as they seek both a championship and another Indy 8 Hour win.
The #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX GT3 of Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher leads the pack with four race wins, but also encountered problems at three other races. They are just one point behind CrowdStrike at 176. They will be joined by two-time sports car champion Christina Nielsen.
The Pro-Am championship won’t be determined until the checkered flies at Indy, and whether an endurance racing war of attrition becomes a factor will be interesting to see. With double points being awarded any one of the top three could become champions. Making their task more difficult will be those entries who are not thinking about points, just the race win.
The only other team to land in victory circle this year is the #13 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 of Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill. The duo won race #1 at VIR, and landed on the podium this past Sunday at Sebring. They are a threat to win at Indy being joined by 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America Am Champion Conrad Grunewald.
The #23 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Onofrio Triarsi and Charlie Scardina has already clinched the Am championship winning ten of the past twelve races. Scardina in particular put on some impressive driving in both Sebring races. For Indy, they have added Alessio Rovera to the line-up and will compete in the Pro-Am class.
Acura’s second entrant for the Indy 8 Hour includes RealTime Racing. Erin Vogel and Michael Cooper will be behind the wheel of their #43 Acura NSX GT3 with their third yet to be named. They suffered some unfortunate luck in Race 1 at Sebring that ended their weekend early—we look forward to them being back on the grid at Indy.
BMW is represented in the Pro-Am grid with BimmerWorld brings the #94 BMW M4 GT3 of Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen. They’ve had a season of being so close to the win, but not having luck completely fall their way. Still, being on the podium eight times out of 12 races is an excellent season-long effort. Richard Heistand joins the team in Indy.
The #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT3 of Samantha Tan, Nick Wittmer, and added co-driver Harry Gottsacker will make a popular return to the grid after an earlier season incident left them without the parts to repair. After running the season in Pro-Am, they’ll compete at Indy in the Silver class.
Lamborghini finds two teams vying for the Pro-Am win. TR3 Racing’s Jeff Burton and Corey Lewis are fresh off of the Central Florida tarmac, and ready to do battle in their #91 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, for which they’ve enlisted the help of racer Jon Branam to help with driver duty. The team just missed podium finishes at Sonoma and Sebring.
Likewise, Zelus Motorsports’ #88 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 will be back in action with Jason Harward being joined by Seth Lucas, a stand-out in GT America powered by AWS and a to be named driver as their third.
Joining CrowdStrike Racing in Mercedes-AMG machinery are two additional teams in Pro-Am. Stephen Cameron Racing returns to Fanatec GT World Challenge, this time running their new #39 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Chris Cagnazzi, Guy Cosmo, and Shane Lewis, all of whom are no strangers to the SRO field.
The #75 Sun Energy 1 racing by AKKODIS ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 returns to the Indy 8 Hour, led by Kenny Habul and Austrians Martin Konrad and Dominik Baumann. The team won overall for the first round of the IGTC season during the LiquiMoly Bathurst 12 hour.
Porsche will also be represented by GMG Racing. Running their #32 Porsche 911 GT3-R (991.ii), the team will feature Kyle Washington, James Sofronas, and Klaus Bachler of Austria. This will be the second SRO weekend for the team. They ran well at Road America reminding us that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Last but not least, DXDT Racing will be making their debut in the Am class. The #08 Mercedes-AMG piloted by David Askew, Scott Smithson, with Valentin Pierburg of Germany being the guest. Both Askew and Smithson have been able to wheel the mighty star-emblazoned sports car to podium finishes so far this season. While Pierburg claimed class victory at the famed TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa just a few months ago.