Customer Racing: Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC): Drivers title for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport after successful season finale at Laguna Seca

29.
October 2018
Monterey

Crowning glory for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in the Intercontinental GT Challenge: at Laguna Seca Raceway, Tristan Vautier (FRA) came out on top in the overall drivers’ standings. In the bronze category, Kenny Habul (AUS) secured the title. With third place for Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing in the California 8 Hours, Vautier, Maximilian Buhk and Maro Engel (both GER) also secured another podium finish for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in the Intercontinental GT Challenge. In the manufacturers’ standings of the worldwide endurance race series, the performance brand from Affalterbach ends up in second place.

  • Victory in the overall drivers’ standings for Tristan Vautier, third place for Raffaele Marciello (ITA)
  • Title for Kenny Habul in the bronze category
  • Third place for the #175 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing in California 8 Hours
  • Victory in the Pro-Am class for #42 STRAKKA Racing

Monterey – Sheer excitement was already guaranteed prior to the fourth and final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Tied on points in the lead of the drivers’ standings, Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Marciello headed into the season finale. The two having raced together in the first three rounds of the international endurance race series, they were allocated to different cars at the race track of Laguna Seca with its long heritage, in order to maximise the chances of winning the drivers’ title. In qualifying and the pole shootout on Saturday, a thrilling battle for the drivers’ crown already announced itself: with second place in the qualifying session for the top 15, Marciello made its first mark while Vautier also got himself a good grid position for the 8-hour race by qualifying in sixth place.

32 cars including six Mercedes-AMG GT3 and two Mercedes-AMG GT4 took the start of the California 8 Hours in ideal weather and track conditions on Sunday morning. With the #43 of Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing, Marciello defended his second place at the start and was able to take the lead for the first time around one hour into the race. The team remained in the lead after the first driver change to Maximilian Götz (GER). The early stages of the race saw Tristan Vautier climb into second place in the #175 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing, and he was then able to establish himself in the leading group. There then followed a thrilling and close battle for the lead with the six best-placed cars separated by only a few seconds. Varying race strategies also led to numerous lead changes.

A safety car phase after around three quarters of the race mixed up the order considerably once more: The #43 STRAKKA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was leading the race during this phase, chose an inopportune moment to come in for the required pit stop and dropped back behind the group of the leaders as a result. Final driver Raffaele Marciello subsequently took many risks to make up positions again. However, he was forced off the track. Dirt into the air filter and the cooling system led to considerable loss of engine power, which made it impossible for him to defend his position for the remainder of the race. That paved the way for Vautier’s #175 car with final driver Maro Engel, who brought third place home in a commanding way. This result was also sufficient for the Frenchman to clinch the drivers’ title. Raffaele Marciello was classified seventh with the #43 Mercedes-AMG STRAKKA Racing car and secured third place in the final drivers’ standings with this result.

Victory for Kenny Habul in bronze category Kenny Habul experienced a rollercoaster of emotions: the leader in the bronze standings had to fear for his title for a long time after an accident early in the race in which the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 got heavily damaged. Thanks to the rapid work of the operating team AKKA ASP, the team managed to get the car back on track in time. Habul, Mikaël Grenier (CAN) and Luca Stolz (GER) were uncertain for a long time, but managed to complete the required minimum number of laps to be classified and thus to secure the title in the bronze category for Habul. With victory for Tristan Vautier in the overall drivers’ standings and the bronze title for Kenny Habul, SunEnergy1 Racing secured no less than two titles for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport this weekend. In the manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG ended up in second position.

A 1-2 in the Pro-Am class Felipe Fraga (BRA), David Fumanelli (ITA) and Nick Leventis (GBR) claimed victory in the Pro-Am class with the #42 STRAKKA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Second place went to the #63 DXDT Racing entry with the drivers’ trio of David Askew (USA), Ryan Dalziel (GBR) and Mike Hedlund (USA).

Jeff Mosing, Tim Probert and Justin Piscitell (all USA) finished third in the GT4 class with the #65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “It was an incredibly intense race, a very close battle from the very first second until the finish. During the first six hours of the race, we clearly managed to defend the lead, but then lost it due to an unfortunate safety car intervention that didn’t fit into our strategy concept. The drivers’ title for Tristan Vautier and the bronze title for Kenny Habul are great achievements. Huge thanks go out to all the teams that have contributed throughout the year and helped us to secure these titles. Congratulations to Audi Sport on winning the manufacturers’ title and many thanks for the fair battles we have had this year. We will see each other again at Bathurst next year.”

Tristan Vautier, Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing #175: “It was a thrilling, close battle. Today, every second counted, we were under a lot of pressure. Therefore, keeping cool all the time was all the more important. We knew that it would come down to the final two hours. We pushed and it paid off. It was a strong achievement by the team that has done a fantastic job. Huge thanks to everyone, now it is time to celebrate!”

Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing #43: “We had a very good start into the race and we were all the way up front. During the safety car phase, we then were slightly unlucky with the strategy. After I had gone off the track, we also had problems with the engine. For us, today’s race was unlucky. I tried everything, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out.” � � < /p>

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing #175: “Congratulations to Tristan, I am really happy for him. Of course, Raffaele would have deserved the title, too. We have been fighting hard and have done our utmost for eight hours. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough for the race win here at Laguna Seca. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 once again was an outstanding car today.”

Maximilian Buhk, Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing #175: “At the beginning of the race, we managed to keep out of all the battles. It was tough to keep pace with the leaders at the start, as we were on a slightly different strategy. Once all the pit stops were completed, we were able to keep up with the pace. All in all, we can be very happy with the weekend.”

Kenny Habul, SunEnergy1 Racing #75: “Of course, it is disappointing that we dropped back at such an early stage because of the accident. After all, we would have been able to be in contention quite far up the ranks with our Mercedes-AMG GT3 today. We have had a lot of luck this season - sometimes you are can be unlucky too. In any case, we can be very proud of the title in the bronze category.”

Luca Stolz, SunEnergy1 Racing #75: “It was a difficult race for us today. Initially, the pace was good, but then the accident happened. The team has done an incredible job and repaired the car really quickly. Then, it was down to us to safely bring the car home. That Kenny has secured the bronze title with today’s result is obviously making us very happy.”

Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing #43: “Of course, being in the lead for so long an then heading home empty-handed is very disappointing. During the safety car intervention, we had a bad moment for our pit stop. After that, Raffaele risked a lot.”

Nick Leventis, STRAKKA Racing #42: “For the entire STRAKKA Racing team, I am happy with victory in the Pro-Am class. We safely brought first place home. Our maiden season with Mercedes-AMG was great. We are very happy with this partnership and we are already looking forward to getting the car on the grid again at Bathurst next year.” 

Result California 8 Hours*: 

POS

overall

POS

class

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

(Pro)

29

Audi R8 LMS

Audi Sport Team Land

Christopher Haase (GER), Christopher Mies (GER), Kelvin van der Linde (RSA)

2.

2.

(Pro)

19

Audi R8 LMS

Audi Sport Team WRT

Robin Frijns (NED), Dries Vanthoor (BEL), Markus Winkelhock (GER)

3.

3.

(Pro)

175

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy 1 Racing

Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maro Engel (GER), Tristan Vautier (FRA)

 

 

 

 

 

7.

7.

(Pro)

43

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing

Maximilian Götz (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA), Lewis Williamson (GBR)

8.

1.

(Pro-Am)

42

Mercedes-AMG GT3

STRAKKA Racing

Felipe Fraga (BRA), David Fumanelli (ITA), Nick Leventis (GBR)

9.

8.

(Pro)

44

Mercedes-AMG GT3

STRAKKA Racing

Jack Hawksworth (GBR), Adrien Tambay (FRA), Christian Vietoris (GER)

13.

2.

(Pro-Am)

63

Mercedes-AMG GT3

DXDT Racing

David Askew (USA), Ryan Dalziel (GBR), Mike Hedlund (USA)

18.

3.

(GT4)

65

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Tim Probert (USA), Justin Piscitell (USA), Jeff Mosing (USA)

24.

8.

(GT4)

34

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Matt Fassnacht (USA), Christian Szymczak (USA)

27.

4.

(Pro-Am)

75

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SunEnergy1 Racing

Mikaël Grenier (CAN), Kenny Habul (AUS), Luca Stolz (GER)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organisers

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  • 18C0939_15
    Winner in the Pro-Am class: Felipe Fraga (BRA), David Fumanelli (ITA) and Nick Leventis (GBR) (from left to right)
  • 18C0939_01
    Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #43
  • 18C0939_02
    Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #175
  • 18C0939_03
    STRAKKA Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #44
  • 18C0939_04
    SunEnergy1 Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75
  • 18C0939_05
    Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing #175, SunEnergy1 Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75
  • 18C0939_06
    STRAKKA Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #42
  • 18C0939_07
    Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #43
  • 18C0939_08
    Murillo Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT4 #34
  • 18C0939_09
    DXDT Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT4 #63
  • 18C0939_10
    Murillo Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT4 #65
  • 18C0939_11
    Mercedes-AMG Team SunEnergy1 Racing #175 crossing the finish line
  • 18C0939_12
    Overall driver champion: Tristan Vautier
  • 18C0939_13
    Kenny Habul, winner in the bronze category
  • 18C0939_14
    From left to right: Tristan Vautier, Maro Engel and Maximilian Buhk
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