Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Stefan Wendl says the Intercontinental GT Challenge shows the “strength” of its global approach to GT3 customer racing.
Mercedes-AMG finished runner-up in the IGTC manufacturers’ championship although with factory driver Tristan Vautier taking the drivers’ title.
It came after the German manufacturer utilized seven different customer teams, including the season-long Strakka Racing squad, over the course of the four-round IGTC season.
“At the end it shows the strength of our whole system,” Wendl told Sportscar365. “I’m proud of the way how we achieved it.
“It’s not about sending a factory or semi-factory effort from Affalterbach with factory cars to each continent. We have a totally different approach.
“We want to use our customer teams and our strongest teams in each region. We want to use their capabilities, their cars.
“With our engineering on-site, we want to bring the know-how that they can use later on in their national championships.”
Kenny Habul claimed the inaugural Bronze Cup title with four different teams in as many races, all under the SunEnergy1 Racing banner.
Habul kicked off the season with Australian GT veterans Scott Taylor Motorsport, with HTP Motorsport running his Mercedes at Spa, Black Falcon in Suzuka and AKKA ASP at Laguna Seca.
“In both examples, for the Bronze and overall drivers’ championships, the cars for Raffaele [Marciello] and Tristan, it was a different team for each race operating the car,” Wendl said.
“For Kenny Habul it’s been the same. This is something which makes us proud to show it like this.”
While local teams represented the manufacturer at Bathurst, Spa and Suzuka, Wendl said he hopes to add a U.S.-based team to AMG Performance team roster for next year’s California 8 Hours.
Last weekend’s season-ending round saw representation from AKKA ASP, under the SunEnergy1 Racing banner, as well as Strakka.
“Here in the States I searched very long and was in talks with teams to have a U.S.-operated teams,” Wendl said.
“I think there are potential teams in place. But the short time from Petit Le Mans and this event and the logistics and the proper way of preparation in changing tire brands made it not possible in this case.
“But I’m really optimistic for next year we will have one or two American teams be ambassador teams here.”
Long-Term Commitment to IGTC
Wendl has praised the growth and success of SRO Motorsport Group’s global challenge, reaffirming Mercedes-AMG’s long-term involvement.
“I think the whole IGTC gets enough potential to be an iconic race series in the near future,” he said.
“We think it’s exactly the idea we would need, with our customer racing concept, to build it up and to show to our customers and attract our customers to be here.
“As more iconic the races will be in each market, the more Pro-Am and Am cars will approach this event and not only semi-financed cars from the factory. This is not the right approach.
“We need to attract the real customers for them to be here.”