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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Paffett, Engel, Stolz in Craft-Bamboo Mercedes for Bathurst

DTM champion Paffett to partner Blancpain GT Endurance champions in Mercedes GT3…

Photo: Craft-Bamboo Racing

DTM champion Gary Paffett has been confirmed in Craft-Bamboo Racing’s lineup of factory drivers for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

Paffett will co-drive a Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered in association with Black Falcon, alongside reigning Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup champions Maro Engel and Luca Stolz in next year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener.

The 37-year-old Englishman is set to make his Mount Panorama debut, partnering two drivers who have both raced at Bathurst multiple times.

Stolz finished third overall in this year’s event and won the Pro-Am category in a Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Engel came close to winning the 2017 edition with Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Baird before a late accident ended their chances.

Paffett’s only prior experience in GT3 competition has come at the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2016 and this year, both times with Mercedes.

“I’m very excited to be racing at Bathurst with Black Falcon and Craft-Bamboo Racing, as well as two great teammates,” he said.

“It’s going to be my first time in Bathurst. Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn and prepare myself beforehand. My teammates have been there before, so we should have a good package as I can learn from them.

“Bathurst is very different to the endurance races I have done before but I’m really looking forward to the event and I hope that we can be successful.”

Craft-Bamboo, which achieved a Bathurst podium in 2013, announced its new position as a Mercedes customer last week and hinted at plans to enter select rounds of the 2019 IGTC.

Its Bathurst 12 Hour entry will receive support from Black Falcon, which took Stolz, Engel and Yelmer Buurman to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title this year.

Craft-Bamboo director Darryl O’Young said the partnership will “fast track” his operation’s engineering knowledge of the Mercedes package that it plans to run full-time in Blancpain GT Series Asia next year.

“When the idea came from Sean Paul [Breslin, Black Falcon team principal] to make a joint effort for this event, it made a lot of sense for us,” O’Young said.

“In Asia we have limited opportunity to test with logistics and track time availability, so we believe this partnership will fast track knowledge for our engineers and team about the car ahead of our debut season with the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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