Mercedes-AMG squad SunEnergy1 Racing is set to contest the full Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season this year, according to team owner Kenny Habul.
The Australian Bronze-rated driver told Sportscar365 ahead of this weekend’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour season-opener that SunEnergy1 is preparing to be on the grid at the other three rounds that make up this year’s campaign.
Habul is sharing the No. 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with Martin Konrad, Jules Gounon and Luca Stolz for the curtain-raiser at Australia’s Mount Panorama circuit.
A visit to Spa is then envisaged for July with the same car that is running at Bathurst, followed by the Indianapolis 8 Hour in October and the Kyalami 9 Hour in December.
SunEnergy1 Racing is receiving technical support from Triple Eight Race Engineering this weekend, but operational partners for the remaining IGTC events remain to be seen, with Habul typically linking up with different teams over the course of a campaign.
Habul is no stranger to the global IGTC series, which is governed by SRO Motorsports Group. During the 2021 season he raced at Indianapolis last October and Kyalami in February, earning a second Intercontinental GT Pro-Am Challenge title in the process.
In 2020 he planned to compete full-time but only ended up doing the first two rounds of a coronavirus-affected season at Bathurst and Indianapolis, while his most recent opportunity to complete the calendar came in 2018 when he won the Bronze Cup title.
“IGTC is the goal,” Habul said. “I was lucky enough to win it in 2018 and 2021, and want to keep going. From here, Spa and then after that Indianapolis and Kyalami.
“Sadly I think Suzuka was delayed again with the COVID issues. But [IGTC] is the priority, and anything else we feel like doing in the meantime, we do.”
Habul entered a SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG into some other races at the start of this year, including the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai.
Further IMSA outings are not being considered at the moment, with the team’s primary focus being placed on IGTC.
“They’re some of the best tracks and races in the world,” Habul said. “Spa, Bathurst, Indy… these are iconic tracks. I love it and I love the chance to go up against the best.
“For me, as a Bronze driver that has limited time to race given my business, the ultimate challenge for me is to get as close as I can to the Pros. That’s why I race.
“I want to prove to myself that I can close in on their times.
“Often, during a race stint, Marty [Konrad] and myself are right there, not much different. Usually we beat half the Silvers, and that’s the goal. That’s the aim and motivation for us.”
Konrad is set to join Habul for the other IGTC enduros, which require a minimum of two Bronze-rated drivers. Bathurst has leaner Pro-Am regulations, with three-driver lineups permitted to have only a single Bronze, although SunEnergy1 has brought both for its four-man crew.
According to the IGTC sporting rules, Habul will only be able to defend his Pro-Am Challenge title if the competition receives at least three full-season entries this year.
“For sure with Marty,” Habul said when asked about his co-drivers for the rest of the program.
“And then, the Pros as they become available. We swap and change, but we have a small group that we like: Jules and Luca, Maro [Engel], Raffaele [Marciello], Philip Ellis… whoever we can slot in. They all work for us.”