Mercedes-AMG has confirmed a full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge entry for 2020 with its new AMG GT3, ahead of the opening round at Bathurst next month.
Mercedes-AMG narrowly missed out on both championships at Kyalami last year, despite leading the manufacturer’s standings for much of the year. Instead, Maxi Goetz, Maxi Buhk and Raffaele Marciello finished second, third and fourth in the Drivers’ standings while Porsche pipped Mercedes-AMG to the Manufacturers’ crown by seven points.
Now it returns with renewed purpose and, at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, it will race with three Pro crews. What’s more, its new GT3 model has been homologated in time to compete at Mount Panorama, which hosts the IGTC opening round on January 31/February 2.
GruppeM Racing, which spearheaded Mercedes-AMG’s 2019 assault, will once again contest all five rounds with Marciello, Buhk and Brazilian newcomer Felipe Fraga, who won GT3 titles in Europe and America last year.
The familiar trio of Maro Engel, Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz are paired with Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon, who will jointly run the car, while Triple Eight Race Engineering (its car pictured above), fourth-place finishers last year behind GruppeM – field Maxi Goetz alongside Australian Supercars stars Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen.
“It’s always exciting to get back to the mountain, no matter what you’re driving, but to kick off the year at one of the best tracks in the world behind the wheel of an AMG GT3 is pretty special,” said Whincup, who won the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2017 with Triple Eight.
“The event is getting bigger and better every year. I’m one of the most patriotic people you’ll meet and it makes me really proud to see so many teams from around the world coming to Bathurst and holding it in such high regard. Everyone wants to win this race, so no doubt it’s going to be ultra-competitive again this year.”
Three more 2016-spec Mercedes-AMGs complete the manufacturer’s six-car line-up at Bathurst, one of which can be nominated to score Intercontinental points.
Triple Eight has also lodged a Pro/Am entry for Yasser and Sam Shahin, Anton de Pasquale and 2019 California 8 Hours winner Nick Foster, while Black Falcon will solely oversee the Silver Cup entry driven by Patrick Assenheimer, Sergej Afanasiev and a yet-to-be-confirmed third co-driver.
Intercontinental’s 2018 Am Cup champion, Kenny Habul, also returns with SunEnergy1 Racing, whose Silver Cup Mercedes-AMG also features Dominik Baumann, Martin Konrad and David Reynolds.
“We are looking forward to Bathurst and the start of the IntGTC season full of anticipation,” said Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing boss Stefan Wendl. “The circuit at Mount Panorama is tailor-made for a spectacular season opener and the record field is giving the event even more prestige than it has already anyway.
“Having scored impressive achievements in the IntGTC in 2019 and eventually having managed to secure the runner-up spot in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings, it is obvious that we want to be on the top step this year.
“To do so, we have a top line-up of teams and drivers. Of course, at the same time, we are well aware that the IntGTC is attracting the world’s best drivers and manufacturers every year and that, therefore, we will be faced with huge competition in the battle for the championship, but that is exactly what we are looking forward to! I wish all drivers and teams a successful and thrilling season!”
Mercedes-AMG becomes the sixth manufacturer to confirm a full-season Intercontinental programme following announcements by Audi, Bentley, Honda, Lamborghini and Porsche.
Image courtesy of IGTC