Mercedes-AMG has become the fifth manufacturer to confirm a full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli programme in 2019.
The reigning overall and amateur Drivers’ champions join Audi, Bentley, BMW and Porsche in motorsport’s only global GT3 series, which begins with the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on February 1-3 before visiting the California 8 Hours, Total 24 Hours of Spa, Suzuka 10 Hours and revived Kyalami 9 Hour.
Six Mercedes-AMGs – more than any other GT3 model – are confirmed for the Australian season-opener where the marque’s nine full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers are split across four entries.
Reigning overall champion Tristan Vautier partners fellow factory driver Thomas Jaeger and 2018 amateur title winner Kenny Habul at SunEnergy1 Racing, which finished second at Bathurst last season.
Raffaele Marciello, who won the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup and overall championship last season, is paired with Maxi Buhk and Maxi Götz aboard the MANN FILTER GruppeM Racing machine, while Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champions Maro Engel and Luca Stolz join forces with DTM champion Gary Paffett at Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon.
Yelmer Buurman, the manufacturer’s ninth full-season driver who shared last season’s Blancpain Endurance Cup title with Engel and Stolz, partners Mark Griffith and Christina Nielsen at Griffith Corp. Team Nineteen, Black Falcon.
“The Intercontinental GT Challenge is a highly attractive series,” said head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, Stefan Wendl. “All the five endurance races are very demanding and the effort from our rivals is even bigger than in previous years. As a result, repeating our achievements from 2018 will not be easy, but we will do our utmost. We have put together a super strong driver line-up and numerically, we have the biggest presence in the GT3 field for the Bathurst season opener. Therefore, our expectations are at least as high as our anticipation.”
Mercedes-AMG will be hoping to go one better than in 2018 when it was pipped to the Manufacturers’ crown by Audi.
A further full-season manufacturer is set to be announced before Bathurst.