Whincup confirms 12-hour return

RECENTLY crowned seven-time Virgin Australia Supercars champion Jamie Whincup has confirmed he will return to defend his Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour victory – though he will drive for a different brand in 2018.

Whincup confirmed in an upcoming video interview with Speedcafe.com that he will partner expat Aussie Kenny Habul and former IndyCar racer Tristan Vautier in a Scott Taylor Motorsport-run Mercedes AMG GT3 next February.

STMs second car will likely run under Habul’s SunEnergy1 entry that the former Australian F3 racer utilities in his US-based GT3 racing. Vautier was Habul’s regular co-driver throughout the 2017 season.

“I do have a deal, Scotty Taylor Motorsport is running a car for Kenny Habul. He does a lot of GT racing around the world and we’re going to run an AMG,” Whincup confirmed to Speedcafe in a story published today.

“The second-quickest car that weekend was an AMG, so (I’m) jumping into that for the weekend.”

Habul raced in Australian Formula 3 in the early 2000s before moving to the United States, where he established large-scale Solar provider SunEnergy1.

Originally from Queensland, Habul has raced in several tiers of NASCAR competition as well as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series and Pirelli World Challenge.

Vautier has built a strong record in GT racing following three years of competition in the Verizon IndyCar series.

He raced in the Blancpain GT Series – driving an AMG GT3 – in 2016 and finished 7th in the championship with one race victory in Spain. He then returned to the USA this year to race with Habul in the SunEnergy1 AMG team this year.

The addition of the second STM car gives the Queensland-based team a strong two-car attack on next February’s race, having earlier confirmed Max Twigg, Tony D’Alberto and Craig Baird would drive the team’s other entry.

“We are ecstatic to have Jamie Whincup in the car, he won this year and he cemented the championship in Supercars, so you can’t get anyone more capable than him,” Team Owner Scott Taylor told Speedcafe.

“There is some pretty strong competition out there but the key to the 12 Hour is being there for the first 11 hours, and then you are in a position to challenge.”

Six Mercedes AMG GT3s are entered in the February 2-4 event.