Mercedes-AMG has become the first GT3 manufacturer that’s set to run its new-generation car in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on its debut year, courtesy of the FIA’s earlier homologation process.
The German manufacturer has three Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos present in this weekend’s Intercontinental GT Challenge season opener, after an active effort to homologate and undergo several Balance of Performance tests by SRO Motorsports Group late last year.
Previously, new GT3 cars or Evos were not eligible at Bathurst due to the race running to the prior year’s BoP table.
Instead, a new timeline has been established, making it possible for manufacturers to showcase their new machinery at Mount Panorama in the first season of the cars.
“I think with the new FIA homologation process in place, which was made exactly for this, we had the opportunity to try to get everything sorted,” said Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Stefan Wendl.
“We started early discussions with the SRO about what was needed to make this happen in case we get the homologation stamped by the first of January.
“Then obviously it was only about the BoP and the missing references.”
Wendl told Sportscar365 that its 2020-spec car completed BoP testing at both the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup season finale in Barcelona as well as a two-day Pirelli tire test at Paul Ricard in October.
The latter test, which was for evaluation of Pirelli’s new DHE tire, saw the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo fitted with the previous-gen DHD2 tire, which is being used in Bathurst this weekend, in order to properly reference the car.
“We prepared ourselves and it has been an awesome effort to get the new cars here,” Wendl said.
“It’s quite a tough challenge on one hand because obviously we are missing a bit of test time and experience, and also the teams, to get everything done properly.
“It’s not a big change [with the Evo], but there’s some small things to change so it needs to be smooth.
“The competition is so tight that we cannot lose a tenth [of a second].
“We need to squeeze the product as [much as] possible. Normally, looking into the past from [other] manufacturers, it always took some races to get BoP and performance of the car together at one level.”
The three AMG-backed Performance teams from GruppeM, Triple Eight and Craft-Bamboo are all running the GT3 Evo, which have been provided to the teams as upgrade kits, with several previous-gen cars in the field as well, including entries from SunEnergy1 Racing and Black Falcon.
Mercedes-AMG took a similar approach in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, which als0 featured a mix of 2016-spec and Evo machinery.
Wendl said they had 40 Evo kits on pre-order along with a “long order list” for teams opting to purchase complete new cars.
Post-Bathurst, the car will go through SRO’s traditional BoP test in March, prior to the start of the European season on Pirelli’s new DHE.
Mercedes-AMG Targeting IGTC Title Revenge
After losing out on both the drivers’ and teams’ championships in the Kyalami title decider, Wendl said Mercedes-AMG’s Performance teams are motivated as ever to start the season on strong footing.
“I think nobody is higher motivated than our Performance teams to get it done this year,” he said. “It was really a sad moment to come into the lead of two championships in Kyalami.
“We did everything we could to get at least one home to Affalterbach, but we lost it that weekend. It was a sad story.
“But we come again to Bathurst and this year we also want to win the other races.
“Last year we had very consistent points, very good results, finished on the podium a lot, and this brought us in a good position toward the end of the season, towards the last event.
“But this year also we need to win one of the other top events. This would be good for the car, for our customers and for our drivers.”
Wendl said they plan to have at least two Performance teams throughout the IGTC season, and three at the next round of the season at Spa in July.