Mercedes-AMG has split Intercontinental GT Challenge Drivers’ Championship leaders Maxi Buhk and Maxi Goetz for 2019’s penultimate round at the Suzuka 10 Hours on August 23-25.
The German duo currently top the standings by three points after racing together at Bathurst, Laguna Seca and Spa. However, while Buhk is staying put at GruppeM Racing, Goetz will switch to another of AMG’s Asian partner teams: Craft-Bamboo Racing.
The changes mean GruppeM will field two-thirds of the line-up with which it won at Suzuka last season. Marciello returns after also partnering Buhk at Bathurst and Laguna Seca, while Maro Engel – who took pole position at Spa two weeks ago – is representing GruppeM for the first time since scoring victory in Japan 12 months ago.
Goetz, meanwhile, joins Spa podium finishers Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz. The latter has already represented Craft-Bamboo at Bathurst earlier this year.
Mercedes-AMG’s other two #IntGTC nominations feature the same line-ups as previously announced. Goodsmile Racing’s Tatsuya Kataoka, Kamui Kobayashi and Nobuteru Taniguchi finished fifth overall at Suzuka last season, while Vautier, Gary Paffett and Lewis Williamson once again share Strakka’s entry.
Meanwhile, SunEnergy1 Racing’s Kenny Habul is eligible to score points towards Intercontinental’s Bronze Drivers’ Championship.
“For us, Asia is a very interesting market and we are doing very well in the various series with our GT3 and GT4 cars,” said Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing boss, Stefan Wendl.
“Quality of the races is improving, the involvement by the manufacturers is increasing, competition is getting harder and the upcoming round at Suzuka certainly is one of the highlights in the Asian region. As a result, building on our success in the 10-hour race from last year will not be easy. The one-two was a clear signal and was the decisive success on our way to securing the 2018 IGTC titles.
“This year, we again have very good perspectives in the championship standings. We are in an excellent position to win at Suzuka and then head to Kyalami for the finale in the lead of the points’ standings.”
Watch the Suzuka 10 Hours live on IntGTC’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, on August 25.