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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Audi, Mercedes-AMG Recommit to IGTC

Audi, Mercedes-AMG firm up support of 2021 GT3 customer programs including IGTC efforts…

Photo: Audi

Audi and Mercedes-AMG are both planning to return to the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli this year, as part of their global customer racing programs.

The two German powerhouses recently declared their intentions to continue as points-paying manufacturers in SRO Motorsports Group’s global GT3 championship.

Audi is entering 2021 with an expanded 16-person factory driver lineup and plans to deploy part of that squad in the IGTC which begins at the Total 24 Hours of Spa in August.

The three-time IGTC manufacturers’ champion hasn’t confirmed any representative teams for the season, although it is expected to provide extended factory support to certain entries.

Audi’s customer racing program with the R8 LMS GT3 Evo will also include a focus on the Nürburgring 24, GT World Challenge powered by AWS and the new GT3-based DTM.

“After a demanding 2020 season for global motorsport, we’re making a statement and committing early to a major international program in 2021,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing.

“The Intercontinental GT Challenge as the world’s most high-profile GT3 series is at the heart of this, just like the Nürburgring 24 Hours.”

Mercedes-AMG has also identified the IGTC as one of its primary series for 2021 with the manufacturer confirming that it plans to assemble “a high-quality driver line-up and renowned Customer Racing teams.”

This comes after no Mercedes-AMG teams took part in last year’s season finale at Kyalami as part of a reduction in factory support during the coronavirus-hit campaign.

Like Audi, Mercedes-AMG’s support for the 2021 season will also cover the Nürburgring 24, the four GT World Challenge regional series, the DTM and ADAC GT Masters.

Philipp Schiemer, chairman of the managerial board at Mercedes-AMG, added that the brand intends to work closely with its sister Formula 1 team this year.

“Our very successful customer racing program has been a core brand element of MercedesAMG for over ten years now and, of course, we will continue to advance this success story in the new season as well,” he said.

“I am fully convinced by our concept and we are in a very strong position with it, both in sporting and in business terms.

“The envisaged closer cooperation with our colleagues from the MercedesAMG Petronas Formula One Team also underlines the fact that motorsport will remain a fixed element of AMG in the future.”

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, added: “Our main focus obviously also is on the optimum support of all the Customer Racing Teams worldwide again.

“This year, we also have the aspiration to be in contention for victories and championships in every race series and are happy to take on the challenge again of providing our support at every race track in the world.

“We wish all drivers and teams a lot of success in the new 2021 season.”

The forthcoming sixth season of IGTC is running to a reduced four-round schedule.

The Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour is not part of this year’s calendar after the event was canceled due to travel complications brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, but the Australian long-distance spectacle is set to return as the 2022 season-opener.

The 2021 season is due to get underway at the Total 24 Hours of Spa which is also a leg of the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup, followed by the Suzuka 10 Hours three weeks later.

The second running of the Indianapolis 8 Hour marks round three in October, leading into the nine-hour season finale at Kyalami on the first weekend of December.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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