SPS Automotive will make its debut as a Mercedes-AMG Performance team in the Kyalami 9 Hour.
The German squad, which normally competes in International GT Open, 24H Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup competition, will field a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season finale, one featuring an all-factory driver lineup.
It will join Performance entries from season-long IGTC entrants GruppeM Racing and Strakka Racing, with driver lineups yet to be determined.
According to Head of Mercedes-AMG customer racing Stefan Wendl, the opportunity to join forces with the Stephan Sohn-led organization has been in the making for more than a year.
“We’ve worked with them since the beginning of last year to find the right spot where we can give them a chance to do something,” Wendl told Sportscar365.
“Then, together quite early, we decided this could be the right way to make it happen.
“The track is new for everybody and it’s a new team to this environment. For sure we will support them with data and our engineering staff, as with all the other teams too. That’s why we decided this was the right way to enter.”
Wendl said he takes great pride in being able to utilize longstanding customer teams in the German manufacturer’s iconic races around the world.
“This is our motivation for the whole support system,” he said. “On one hand it’s good to win championships and titles and to get heritage with the car and the brand.
“On the other hand, we want to push our own system and give the best teams in each region the chance to perform and compete with the best GT teams and manufacturers in the world.”
With no locally based teams in South Africa, Wendl admitted Mercedes-AMG’s Kyalami effort will be a “compromise” in a similar fashion to its previous IGTC outings in North America, where foreign teams were also utilized.
“It’s always a compromise, depending on where we are and how strong our customers are and how the interest is with teams,” he said.
“But with this single event, they learn so much. We have data sharing and videos and also have engineers with each team that provides new information.
“This is not in place for all the regional championships.
“So when they go back into their markets, whether it’s Australian GT or Blancpain GT World Challenge America, we hope they perform better than their experiences before.
“It works quite well with Goodsmile [in Suzuka], with STM and we are in talks with other Australian teams for Bathurst next year. And we still have to push the American market.”