MONTEREY, Calif., March 29, 2019 – The competition for tomorrow’s Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours is at a fever pitch following a thrilling Pole Shootout at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Eight automakers will be represented on the 20-car grid lead by the No. 30 Honda Team MOTUL Acura NSX GT3 which German racer Mario Farnbacher drove to the pole position.

Farnbacher set a new qualifying lap record during the Pole Shootout with a time of 1:23.156, finishing two-tenths quicker than Alex Buncombe’s KCMG Nissan, while Dries Vanthoor finished third aboard Audi Sport Team WRT’s new R8 LMS GT3 Evo. As many different manufacturers also finished inside a top-six covered by less than 0.4s.

It was the perfect start for Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli debutants, Honda, whose new NSX GT3 Evo is running as an Acura in its North American market this weekend. Its performance was equally remarkable given the car shared by Farnbacher, Bertrand Baguette and Renger van der Zande scraped through the day’s earlier qualifying session in 10th after missing the drop by just .005-second. Van der Zande is familiar with success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with memorable victories earned in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“I’m not really sure where that came from,” said Farnbacher. “We had a lot of fuel onboard when I drove in qualifying earlier today, and around here that extra weight makes a big difference. We also fine-tuned the car after qualifying, and I think the combination of the two has made the difference. But, honestly, we didn’t expect that sort of time – the other guys in the top-three just said ‘Wow, where did your time come from?!’, but obviously it’s cool to give Honda and Acura the qualifying lap record, and especially on our Intercontinental GT Challenge debut.”

Audi has swept the previous California 8 Hours events in 2017 and 2018 with 22-year-old South African driving ace Kelvin van der Linde being part of both winning teams and setting the race lap record. The No. 29 Audi Sport Team Land squad of van der Linde, Christopher Mies and Markus Winkelhock look to rebound from its qualifying performance to make it three-in-a-row for van der Linde and a second win for his co-drivers.

Mercedes AMG enters this event with the lead in the Manufacturer standings, though only one of four entries will start in the top 10 positions tomorrow. Driver Championship leaders Matt Campbell, Dennis Olsen and Dirk Werner will start in the third row in the Wright Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.