After P1 and P3 in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener at Bathurst, Mercedes-AMG scores another Pro-Am class win in the Kyalami 9 Hour: Jules Gounon (AND), Kenny Habul (AUS) and Yannick Mettler (SUI) are victorious with the #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of SunEnergy1 by SPS. With the #20 SPS automotive performance car, Reece Barr (IRL), Miguel Ramos (POR) and Luca Stolz (GER) secure third place in the Pro-Am class. In the overall classification, the two Customer Racing cars ended up in fifth and seventh place respectively. Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing’s Maro Engel (GER), Mikaël Grenier (CAN) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) had bad luck after having secured pole position during qualifying. In the race, a pneumatic failure in the gearbox was the reason that the trio was unable to keep the pace of the frontrunners and ended up classified in P9. In the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings, AMG Driver Jules Gounon remains in the lead together with Kenny Habul. Moreover, Habul takes the tied points’ lead in the IGTC Independent Cup (bronze drivers). In the manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG is in the lead, tied on points with BMW after two of five rounds.
Kenny Habul, SunEnergy1 by SPS #75
“Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 was good throughout the race. In the opening stages, we benefited from the Porsche in front of us getting a puncture and we were able to take the class lead. At this track, one really has to be careful with the curbstones, something can happen very quickly. As the race went on, there was more and more dirt on the track. In the second half of the race, our margin was such that we only had to bring the class win home in a concentrated way. We managed to do that and Jules and I were able to defend the lead in the IGTC standings, too. Thanks to SPS and Mercedes-AMG. Now, it’s time to party!”
Jules Gounon, SunEnergy1 by SPS #75
“We managed to stage a perfect race. We have secured the class win with a two-lap margin. All three of us were quick and very consistent throughout the race. All in all, it was a perfect team effort: no mistakes, no penalties, trouble-free pit stops and a super car. The Pro-Am class win is cool and leaving Kyalami as the leader in the IGTC standings is a great feeling.”
Yannick Mettler, SunEnergy1 by SPS #75
“Kenny and Jules are already a super team and I am the new one on the team here, so I had to prove myself, of course. That worked out well. The guys made it easy for me. I had a steep learning curve throughout the weekend. In the race, it went super. At sunset, we already had a two-lap lead. Like that, we were able to take it slightly easier in the final stints. Now, I am overjoyed and I thank the entire team of Mercedes-AMG and SunEnergy1 by SPS.“
Luca Stolz, SPS automotive performance #20
“We can be happy with P3 in the Pro-Am class. We have made a few strategic errors in the pit lane. Had it not been for these, it would probably have been a 1-2 in class for Mercedes-AMG. But the race as such was great fun. There were only few cars on track and therefore the pace was decisive, and for us, the pace was all right.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999
“After our pole position yesterday, our ambitions for the race were high. However, we knew that it would be difficult against the strong opposition. That became apparent in the first stint right away. I was able to defend the lead for eight laps, but then I had to give it up. We simply didn’t have the pace to respond. For quite a while, we were still within striking distance to the front. But then gearbox issues came up as well and we lost more and more ground. Accordingly, the result is slightly disappointing, but still many thanks to the entire team that gave it its all. Now we will analyse what the issue was exactly, and we will come back stronger.”
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