Just two months after the 2022 finale in Abu Dhabi, the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) launches into an exciting new season with the Bathurst 12 Hour (3 – 5 February). The race at the Mount Panorama Circuit also marks the beginning of Mercedes-AMG’s title defence. Last year, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach won three of the four races on the calendar to claim not only the manufacturers’ title but also both drivers’ championships.
No fewer than nine Mercedes-AMG GT3s and one Mercedes-AMG GT4 will be lining up for the season opener – the largest contingent fielded by any manufacturer on the technically demanding historic Australian circuit. Three Customer Racing teams with extended factory support will spearhead the charge. Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo Racing go into the season opener with a trio of Lucas Auer (AUT), Nick Catsburg (NED) and reigning IGTC champion Daniel Juncadella (ESP). Maro Engel (GER), Mikael Grenier (CAN) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) will share the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM car. The Hong Kong-based outfit will contest all races of the Intercontinental GT Challenge with extended factory support. The GT3 of Mercedes-AMG Team TripleEight will be driven by Broc Feeney (AUS), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Shane van Gisbergen (NZL).
Also on the grid are the winners of last year’s Bathurst, SunEnergy1 Racing. The Customer Racing outfit will be entering an almost identical line-up to last year, namely Jules Gounon (AND), Luca Stolz (GER) and the reigning Pro-Am champion Kenny Habul (AUS). Five more Mercedes-AMG GT3s will be fielded by Customer Racing teams Scott Taylor Motorsport, TripleEight Race Engineering, Valmont Racing and Volante Rosso Motorsport. Team Nineteen Corporation of Australia will meanwhile be sending a Mercedes-AMG GT4 into the fray.
The top four results for Mercedes-AMG at the Bathurst 12 Hour will count towards the manufacturers’ classification in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Craft Bamboo Racing, GruppeM, Sunenergy1 Racing and Volante Rosso Motorsport (competing as Makita Volante Rosso Motorsport) are expected to score the first championship points of the 2023 season for the brand.
There will be yet another Affalterbach-built vehicle contributing to the spectacle of the Bathurst 12 Hours: Mercedes-AMG has been providing the safety car since the 2015 season. The model to be used this year is the current Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+ with fuel consumption of 12.3 – 11.9 l/100 km (19.1 – 19.7 mpg) and CO2 emissions of 281 – 270 g/km*. Its 450 kW (612 hp) 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine and 4MATIC+ fully variable all-wheel drive are the ideal spec for ensuring the safety of the competitors in all weather and track conditions.
As has now become tradition, the race is due to start at dawn (05:45 local time) on Sunday 5th February.
“The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the toughest races of the year and is of great importance to Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. 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.”