> GruppeM Racing to contest all five rounds
> Reigning drivers’ champion Juncadella amongst LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour entries
Mercedes-AMG is aiming to defend the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles this season after confirming its participation in the globe-trotting GT3 series.
The Three Pointed Star won three-quarters of last year’s races en route to both overall championships, while Kenny Habul and Martin Konrad completed a clean sweep for the manufacturer by clinching the Pro-Am Challenge crown.
Its IGTC programme begins at the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour next weekend (February 3-5) when a maximum of three Pro cars and another one from either the Silver, Pro-Am or Am classes can be nominated to score points.
Mercedes-AMG’s 2022 IGTC title successes were built on a strong showing at Mount Panorama in May when SunEnergy1’s Habul, Konrad, Jules Gounon and Luca Stolz headed Affalterbach’s podium sweep. Dani Juncadella, meanwhile, finished second and went on to win the drivers’ crown thanks to victories at the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa and Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS.
Most of those drivers will feature again next weekend when Mercedes-AMG bids for a GT3 era record-equalling third victory at Mount Panorama. Gounon, who has stood on the top step for the past two additions, could also become the first driver to win three Bathurst 12 Hours.
Last year’s IGTC runner-up once again shares SunEnergy1’s entry with Stolz and Habul, while Juncadella reprises his relationship with Craft-Bamboo, albeit alongside DTM race winner Lucas Auer and IGTC’s 2020 champion Nick Catsburg. Both cars are nominated to score Intercontinental points.
“I am very excited for this second edition for me at Bathurst,” said Juncadella. “Finally, it is more an authentic Bathurst 12 Hour as last year was a difficult one with different dates to the usual race. It is also a bigger field this year with Pro and Pro-Am line-ups. I am especially looking forward to being back with Craft-Bamboo Racing after such a successful two races in 2022 – a podium in Bathurst and a win in Indy. I can’t wait to be there, it’s an amazing track. I loved getting my first taste last year and it will be exciting to be back again in the heat this time. Looking to go one better this year!”
The manufacturer’s other Pro pick has gone to GruppeM Racing, which is scheduled to contest all five of this year’s IGTC rounds. The bright yellow Mann Filter-backed, mamba-liveried Mercedes-AMG has tackled Mount Panorama before and returns with three works drivers behind the wheel: last year’s runner-up Maro Engel, Mikael Grenier and Raffaele Marciello.
Makita Volante Rosso Motorsport’s Pro-Am class contender, shared by Tony Bates, Jordan Love and David Reynolds, completes Mercedes-AMG’s IGTC roster Down Under.
“The LIQUI-MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the toughest races of the year and is of great importance to Mercedes-AMG Motorsport,” said Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport, Christoph Sagemüller. "This is reflected in the highly competitive standard of our teams and the record number of entries for both factory-supported and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams. On top of that, I am proud that we have again been asked to provide the safety car for this year’s race. After all, safety is always a priority for Mercedes and AMG, and that of course also goes for motorsport.
“Having won the Bathurst 12 Hour in 2022, we are excited about the return of the Pro category this year and look forward to the challenge of defending this title in what will undoubtedly be a tough race against a top-class grid. The Mount Panorama Circuit is certainly one of the most challenging race tracks in the world, and I’m thrilled to be going in person to this unique race.”
Australia’s International Enduro is the first of five long-distance GT3 races on as many continents that IGTC will visit this year. There’s less than a month between Bathurst and round two in South Africa – the Kyalami 9 Hour – before the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa takes centre stage at the end of July. That’s followed by October’s Indianapolis 8 Hour Presented by AWS and the Gulf 12 Hours, which rounds out the campaign in December.