- Mercedes-AMG GT3s in positions 3, 5, 6, 14 and 20 at Bathurst
- Maiden podium finish for the new Mercedes-AMG GT3
- Mercedes-AMG takes IGTC points’ lead
- Third place in Silver Cup and second place in GT4 class
Mercedes-AMG started the new Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli season with a strong team achievement, a podium finish and the points’ lead: in the 12-hour race at Bathurst, Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering secured third place with Shane van Gisbergen (NZL), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Jamie Whincup (AUS). With fifth position for Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON with Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (both GER) and sixth place for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing with Maximilian Buhk (GER), Felipe Fraga (BRA) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA), two further newly developed Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars finished in the top ten.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 started off the 2020 Intercontinental GT Challenge with an impressive showing. In the 12-hour race at Bathurst, all the three participating new cars put in a strong performance in extremely hot conditions at the legendary Mount Panorama Circuit. The cars from Affalterbach had already laid a good foundation with a good qualifying. All three Mercedes-AMG GT3s of the Performance Teams GruppeM Racing, Triple Eight Race Engineering and Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON managed to qualify for Saturday’s pole-shootout in the 36-car field. The single-lap qualifying session for the top ten saw Raffaele Marciello set the third-fastest time with the #999 entry to secure the best grid position among the cars from Affalterbach, followed by Maro Engel with the #77 car in sixth place and Shane van Gisbergen with the #888 entry eighth on the grid.
It was still dark as the high-class field started into the 18th running of the classic endurance race on Sunday morning (5.45 hrs local time). In the process, Maximilian Buhk made a perfect start with the #999 car, immediately charging from P3 into the lead. Repeated safety car interventions and different pit stop strategies subsequently led to frequent position changes. As the race went on and temperatures rose, the #999 (Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing), the #77 (Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON) and the #888 (Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering) established themselves among the top ten. In the process, the #999 car in particular regularly racked up laps in the lead.
In the thrilling final stage of the race, the #999 came in for its final scheduled pit stop at an early stage while leading the race. Back on track, final driver Marciello showed strong nerves and put the new race leaders under pressure. Once these had also made their final stops, the #999 was in second place, six seconds down, with Maro Engel following closely in the #77. Soon after that, Engel had to make an unscheduled stop due to a puncture and lost his chances of a podium finish as a result.
With only a few minutes remaining, Marciello also had a blown tyre. He too, was forced to make a pit stop and dropped back to third. Once back on track, he claimed back one position with a courageous manoeuvre and crossed the finish line in second place after 314 laps. However, as the engine of the car hadn’t been turned during the final stop off as required by the regulations, the #999 got a 30-second post-race time penalty, the team dropping back to sixth place as a result. This enabled the #888 with Shane van Gisbergen, Maximilian Götz and Jamie Whincup to make it into the top three. Final driver van Gisbergen secured the podium result for the Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering.
In the Silver-Cup classification, the #46 BLACK Falcon Customer Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 secured a class podium: the trio of Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Sergej Afanasiev (RUS) and Michele Beretta (ITA) even ran within the top ten of the overall ranking for a large part of the race. Final driver Assenheimer eventually brought the #46 car home in 14th place overall and third in the Silver Cup classification.
In the Pro-Am category, a class victory for the #75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 seemed on the cards during the first hours of the race. However, a technical issue was the reason that Dominik Baumann and Martin Konrad (both AUT), Kenny Habul and David Reynolds (both AUS) dropped back. After a repair break, the #75 was able to catch up again, but eventually had to make do with a fourth-place finish in class. The second Pro-Am Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered in the Pro-Am class, the #777 The Bend Motorsport Park car, was unable to participate in the race following an accident in qualifying.
The debut of the Mercedes-AMG in the Bathurst 12-hour race was a successful one. A largely trouble-free race saw the #19 car of Customer Racing Team Nineteen Corp. finishing in 23rd place overall and second place in the GT4 class for Mark Griffith (AUS), Dirk Müller (GER) and Harrison Newey (GBR).
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “That was an unbelievably exciting race that kept us on our feet until the final seconds. My thanks go out to our teams and the drivers who really have achieved the unbelievable. Prior to the race already, they have done everything to enable us to participate with three of the new GT3 cars, one of which we actually managed to get on the podium. All three cars are in the top six, proof of the reliability of the new model. It is great that we are also leading the IGTC manufacturers’ standings again, like in the previous year. The two further class podium finishes also make me very happy. This is a good start for us!”
Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering #888: “First of all, thanks to Triple Eight for giving me a super car. Shane drove an excellent stint in the final part. He was fighting until the very end, which then resulted into a third-place finish for us after all. Of course, I also feel for our colleagues of the GruppeM Racing team who had the puncture and the penalty. But that is racing. For us, this was a good start of the season.”
Jamie Whincup, Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering #888: “We are on the podium, but that wasn’t our goal in this way. We wanted to win the race, but that simply wasn’t on the cards today. Making it on the podium in the turbulent final stages of the race was a bit lucky, but not undeserved. We gave it our all.”
Shane van Gisbergen, Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering #888: “Third place is a good result. Perhaps, we were slightly lacking the pace to end up in front. From that perspective, we are all very happy. We got the maximum out of it.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON #77: “The team did a mega job. Craft-Bamboo and BLACK FALCON, both teams together. The car was unbelievable. Really strong. Well, and then these final minutes. All of a sudden, we had a puncture that came out of the blue. Presumably, it was a carbon piece that had punctured the tyre. Too bad, and I am really sorry for everyone who had been working so hard. Nevertheless, the IGTC debut for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was a successful one. The car was fast and reliable in extremely hard conditions.”
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “Of course, I am disappointed with the result. That simply was bad luck. We didn’t deserve this. But that is also part of motorsport. As to our performance, we have done our utmost. I am very proud of my teammates.”
Patrick Assenheimer (GER), BLACK FALCON #46: “That was my first race at Mount Panorama. I have to say that it was a super experience. It really is a mega cool race track. We were in contention for a class win for a long time. Eventually, we ended up third. That is okay for us as well. For all of us, it was the first time here and we are very happy.”
Mark Griffith (AUS), Nineteen Corp. #19: “For us, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 was totally new. However, the team has done a perfect job in preparing the car, enabling us to quickly find our way. In the race, the car ran trouble-free. Once, Dirk had some minor contact, but other than that, it all went without any major incidents.”
Result Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour 2020*:
Bentley Continental GT3
Bentley Team M-Sport
McLaren 720S GT3
Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering
Shane van Gisbergen (NZL)
Maximilian Götz (GER)
Jamie Whincup (AUS)
Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo BLACK FALCON
Yelmer Buurman (NED)
Maro Engel (GER)
Luca Stolz (GER)
Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing
Maximilian Buhk (GER)
Felipe Fraga (BRA)
Raffaele Marciello (ITA)
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2016
Patrick Assenheimer (GER)
Sergej Afanasiev (RUS)
Michele Beretta (ITA)
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2016
Dominik Baumann (AUT)
Kenny Habul (AUS)
Martin Konrad (AUT)
David Reynolds (AUS)
Mark Griffith (AUS)
Dirk Müller (GER)
Harrison Newey (GBR)
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2016
The Bend Motorsport Park
Nick Foster (AUS)
Anton de Pasquale (AUS)
Sam Shahin (AUS)
Yasser Shahin (AUS)
* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser