Kenny Habul has committed to the remainder of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, with SunEnergy1 Racing set to be represented in October’s season-ending California 8 Hours as part of a two-car Mercedes-AMG-supported effort.
The U.S.-based Australian confirmed to Sportscar365 that he will drive Pro-Am class Mercedes-AMG GT3 alongside Luca Stolz and Mikael Grenier in the event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The car will be one of two Mercedes entered by AKKA-ASP, which will make its U.S. debut with a second all-pro crewed entry for Maro Engel and overall title contenders Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Marciello.
Habul said his incremental commitment to the SRO Motorsports Group run-series, which introduced a Bronze drivers’ title this year, came following his runner-up finish overall in February’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
He provisionally leads the new-for-2018 title entering this weekend’s Suzuka 10 Hours, in a three-way fight between Strakka Racing team owner Nick Leventis and Tim Pappas, of Black Swan Racing.
“I didn’t know about [the IGTC Bronze title] until two weeks after Bathurst, and Spa was a dream event. I’m really happy that they did it,” Habul told Sportscar365.
“I haven’t enjoyed IMSA very much, not as much as we hoped. This series is certainly more fair to Bronze drivers. There’s other aspects to it that just makes it more professional.
“Of course you get to travel and see the world and race on the tracks that I grew up watching as a kid.
“I’m excited and I’m looking forward to doing it for the next few years.”
Habul has opted for Stolz and Grenier, two Silver-rated drivers, for the remainder of the season in order to optimize the Pro-Am class rules that mandate either two Bronze-rated drivers or one Bronze and two Silvers per lineup.
“Luca is great and Mik is great too,” he said. “I’ve got two really good Silvers so I’m happy.”
The eight-hour enduro at Laguna Seca will mark the Jerome Policand-led AKKA-ASP team’s North American debut, in what will be Habul’s fourth different team he’s utilized in his four-race IGTC campaign.
Habul started the season with Australian GT squad Scott Taylor Motorsport, prior to HTP Motorsport running the SunEnergy1-backed car in the Total 24 Hours of Spa and Black Falcon operating the team entry at Suzuka this weekend.
SunEnergy1 Unlikely Make Full-Season IMSA Return
Habul, who made a mid-season exit from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, said he’s unlikely to return for a full-season next year.
While entered for next month’s penultimate round of the season at Laguna Seca alongside Virgin Australia Supercars ace Jamie Whincup, Habul indicated that IMSA’s planned changes for 2019 to the GT Daytona class doesn’t add up.
Habul has been one of several Bronze-rated drivers who has faced challenges competing against lineups stacked with so-called ‘Super Silvers’, a situation IMSA President Scott Atherton has pledged to eliminate for next year.
“I don’t think we’ll be coming back to IMSA,” he said. “We’ll do a few here or there. But until I can really see the series has changed some things, I don’t think we’ll be returning full-time.”
SunEnergy1’s one-off entry next month will be run by an in-house team being reassembled, according to Habul.