Customer Racing: Kyalami 9 Hour: Mercedes-AMG concludes thrilling IGTC season with runner-up positions in drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings

24.
November 2019
Gauteng (South Africa)

In a memorable finale of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli (IGTC), Mercedes-AMG only just misses out on the double of drivers’ and manufacturers’ title. Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance (#10) finished fifth in the final event of the endurance series at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, enabling Maximilian Götz to secure runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings. Moreover, Mercedes-AMG secures second place in the manufacturers’ standings. Marked by several interruptions and numerous retirements, the Kyalami 9 Hour ended with a class win in the Pro-Am Cup for Strakka Racing (#43).

  • Maximilian Götz secures runner-up spot in Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings
  • Mercedes-AMG ends up second in the manufacturers’ standings
  • Fifth place for Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance (#10) in the new version of the Kyalami 9 Hour
  • Pro-Am class win for Strakka Racing (#43)

Gauteng (South Africa) – With a track record of four consecutive podium finishes, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport headed into the decisive fifth round of this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge. The perspective prior to the season finale at the fully renovated Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit near Johannesburg was accordingly positive: both in the drivers’ and the manufacturers’ standings, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach was in first place. With Maximilian Buhk (GER, 58 points), Raffaele Marciello (ITA, 55 points) and Maximilian Götz (GER, 52 points), there were even three Mercedes-AMG drivers in the first three places of the ranking of the best drivers in the renowned endurance race series.

The race weekend at the 4.522 kilometres long track went off to a promising start: first of all, Yelmer Buurman posted the fastest time in Pre-Qualifying on Friday afternoon with the #10 Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3, then two Mercedes-AMG GT3s made it into the Pole Shootout in the afternoon after three intense qualifying sessions. In the shootout, freshly crowned FIA GT World Champion Marciello made it to third place and therefore got the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing (#999) that also included Buhk and Maro Engel (GER) a good grid position for the race on Saturday. Götz, who raced the #10 car together with Buurman and Luca Stolz (GER), started eighth on the grid.

The race on Saturday started with a shock: championship leader Maximilian Buhk already had to park the #999 on the opening lap due to a technical failure on the ignition coil and therefore saw his hopes of winning the drivers’ title blown. For Gary Paffett (GBR) in the #44 Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing entry, meanwhile, the start went better. The Brit made up several positions at the very beginning and was able to hand the car to last year’s IGTC champion Tristan Vautier (FRA) in second place, also thanks to a clever strategy with an early tyre change and a double stint. However, the impressive progress came to a sudden halt as the Frenchman was driven into by an opponent while fighting for position. The #44 car came off the track as a result and got damaged beyond repair from the impact into the barriers. Therefore, the second Mercedes-AMG GT3 with chances of victory was another early retirement from the final round at Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.  

After that, the #10 SPS automotive performance car with title candidate Maximilian Götz in the line-up was the only remaining Mercedes-AMG Performance entry. The 33-year-old had made a good start and made it up to fifth place before handing over to his teammate Buurman. The latter went on to post the fastest lap time to date and was able to defend his position against the attacks by the opponents. After that, Luca Stolz drove a decisive stint with some well-timed overtaking moves and made it up into second place. Torrential rain with massive aquaplaning then led to a safety car intervention of around 90 minutes that brought the field back together again. As weather conditions slightly improved towards the end of the race, racing resumed, but the restart was unfortunate for Mercedes-AMG. Buurman, who had again taken over from Stolz in the meantime, lost three positions and went on to cross the finish line in fifth place. As a result, his teammate Götz concludes this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge as runner-up. Mercedes-AMG, meanwhile, secures runner-up spot in the manufacturers’ standings.

Class win in IGTC season finale

In the process, Mercedes-AMG also secured a class win to conclude the Intercontinental GT Challenge season. With the Strakka Racing (#43) car, Dominik Baumann (AUT), Adrian Henry D’Silva (MAS) and Christina Nielsen (DEN) claimed Pro-Am honours. Tim Müller (GER), Valentin Pierburg (GER) and Miguel Ramos (POR) drove the #40 SPS automotive performance car to second place in the Am class, while the #6 BLACK FALCON car with Patrick Assenheimer, Hubert Haupt (both GER) and Sergej Afanasiev (RUS) came second in the Silver Cup.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “It was a crazy final race that got off in the worst possible way for us with the retirements of the #999 and the #44. From the very beginning, unbelievable intensity and determination of the drivers marked this race. It was clear to see how much there was at stake today, so there were accordingly hard battles for every position. Congratulations to Porsche, they coped with the adverse conditions in the best way and have secured the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles. In spite of the disappointment about the two championship titles that only just went away, it also has to be noted that we were again very successful this year and were able to build on the strong performance in previous years. Four podium finishes from five endurance races and numerous class wins are a clear statement. Of course, one of the pillars was the performance of our Mercedes-AMG GT3s that again proved its competitiveness in an impressive way. At the same time, these achievements wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the very good cooperation with our customer teams, so many thanks for that. Now, we are looking ahead to the 2020 season full of anticipation and will do everything to expand our successful track record in the Intercontinental GT Challenge with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3.”  

Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance #10: “Of course, I am not entirely happy with the result. We gave our utmost and have done a great many things right today. At the end, it was a hard fight. However, losing the championship on the final metres so closely is sad, of course. Now, we are runners-up twice and disappointment prevails at the moment. Nevertheless, considering the entire season, we have done a good job.”

Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance #10: “We really have done a solid job, we qualified for the Top Ten Shootout and then worked our way up very well in the race from eighth on the grid. Temporarily, we were even on course for victory and the title. Unfortunately, when the rain set in and the restart came after the safety car intervention, we were unable to maintain our position. Nevertheless, we are looking back upon a successful race with strong progress, the team has done a great job and given it all. The first race on the African continent definitely was a good experience.”

Yelmer Buurman, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance #10: “Our pace was very good today. In a race with such weather conditions and the many safety car interventions, choosing the right strategy was crucial.  We did very well at that during the race and that enabled us to make good progress in the field. That it didn’t work out with the podium and the championship in the end obviously hurts. Nevertheless, I would like to thank SPS automotive performance for doing a great job.”

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “First and foremost, I feel really sorry for Maxi with the result, but also for the entire GruppeM team. We had a good qualifying, the guys were fully committed and the team has done everything to prepare the car in a great way as well. In qualifying, the car ran great. Today, we surely could have achieved a lot, but such situations are also part of motorsport. Now, we are looking ahead, we are already really looking forward to the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, of course, and we want to be as successful as possible with it in 2020.”

Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999: “The early retirement is extremely sad, as we were in a very good position for the season finale. I feel really sorry for Maxi in particular, because he really would have deserved to win the IGTC drivers’ title. Nevertheless, we can be proud of what we have achieved this season.”

Tristan Vautier, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing #44: “Of course, our plans for the season finale were slightly different. We had a very good start of the race and we were able to make up many positions thanks to a clever strategy by the team. Then, there was contact with another car in the battle for fifth and soon after that, I had to park the car after crashing into the barriers. That is a huge disappointment for us and for the team.”

Dominik Baumann, Strakka Racing #43: “Racing here in South Africa definitely was a good experience. The track was new for all the drivers, had everything in store and the race certainly was fun. Admittedly, qualifying wasn’t perfect, but we did all the better for it during the race. The car worked perfectly and I am very happy with victory in the Pro-Am class. Christina, Adrian and the team really have made a great effort.” 

Result Kyalami 9 Hour*:

POS

overall

POS

class

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

1.

(Pro)

31

Porsche 911 GT3 R

Frikadelli Racing Team

Mathieu Jaminet (FRA), Dennis Olsen (NOR), Nick Tandy (GBR)

2.

2.

(Pro)

34

BMW M6 GT3

Walkenhorst Motorsport

Christian Krognes (NOR), Mikkel Jensen (DNK), Nicky Catsburg (NED)

3.

3.

(Pro)

20

Porsche 911 GT3 R

GPX Racing

Michael Christensen (DNK), Kevin Estre (FRA), Richard Lietz (AUT)

 

 

 

 

 

5.

5.

(Pro)

10

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance

Maximilian Götz (GER), Yelmer Buurmann (NED), Luca Stolz (GER)

15.

2.

(Silver)

6

Mercedes-AMG GT3

BLACK FALCON

Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Hubert Haupt (GER), Sergej Afanasiev (RUS)

18.

2.

(Am)

40

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SPS automotive performance

Miguel Ramos (POR), Valentin Pierburg (GER), Tim Müller (GER)

20.

1.

(Pro-Am)

43

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Team Strakka Racing

Adrian Henry D’Silva (MAS), Dominik Baumann (AUT), Christina Nielsen (DEN)

DNF

DNF

(Pro)

44

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing

Gary Paffett (GBR), Tristan Vautier (FRA), Lewis Williamson (GBR)

DNF

DNF

(Pro)

999

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing

Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maro Engel (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser

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  • 19C0988_001
    #10 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance
  • 19C0988_002
    Runner-up drivers' championship: Maximilian Götz
  • 19C0988_003
    Pit stop: #10 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance
  • 19C0988_004
    #10 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team SPS automotive performance
  • 19C0988_005
    Starting Grid: #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing
  • 19C0988_006
    #999 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team G ruppeM Racing
  • 19C0988_007
    #44 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing
  • 19C0988_008
    #44 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing
  • 19C0988_009
    #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0988_010
    #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, BLACK FALCON
  • 19C0988_011
    #43 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Strakka Racing
  • 19C0988_012
    Winner Pro-Am: D. Baumann (left), C. Nielsen (middle) and A. Henry D’Silva
  • 19C0988_013
    #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SPS automotive performance
  • 19C0988_014
    #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3, SPS automotive performance
  • 19C0988_015
    2nd place Am class: #40 SPS automotive performance
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