> First non-Japanese team commits to inaugural event
> Number of confirmed manufacturers reaches five
> 47th Summer Endurance event set for August 25/26
Experienced sportscar squad Strakka Racing has confirmed it will contest next season’s inaugural Suzuka 10 Hours with a trio of Mercedes-AMG GT3s after graduating to the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
The British squad is the first team from outside of Japan to commit to the event, which takes place on August 25/26. The news also brings the list of confirmed manufacturers to five after Honda, Lamborghini, Nissan and Toyota all pledged their support earlier this year.
The race, which maintains the tradition of previous ‘Summer Endurance’ events at Suzuka, will be the first in which GT3 and JAF GT cars compete against each other for overall victory. It is also being jointly co-ordinated by SRO Motorsports Group, which is best known for overseeing the Blancpain GT Series in Europe and Asia, SUPER GT organiser GTA, and Mobilityland who are all collaborating closely on the project.
Strakka switched from sports-prototypes to GTs at the start of 2017 when it announced plans to contest the Blancpain GT Series for the first time. It will continue to run cars in the championship’s five Endurance Cup rounds but, with its Intercontinental GT Challenge commitments, is also returning to the global stage for the first time since 2016.
The new partnership sees Strakka become a Mercedes-AMG Performance Team, which its founder Nick Leventis believes should bring additional benefits.
“It’s great for Strakka to be back on the world stage and competing at venues such as Suzuka, Bathurst and Laguna Seca,” he said. “Together with a return to the Endurance Cup, we’ve a got an exciting calendar next season and a partner in Mercedes-AMG that will enable us to fight for podiums and wins.”
The first of Strakka’s three 2018 chassis will be delivered in November before testing begins at the end of the year. Drivers have yet to be announced but the team has confirmed its final line-ups will feature members of Mercedes-AMG’s factory roster.
“From initial discussions, there is real interest in the programme, especially with the Intercontinental GT Challenge,” said racing director Jay Davenport. “Our tie up with Mercedes-AMG is something which we have kept extremely close to our chest. To be able to announce this today means we now have the full package in place.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing, added: “It is a pleasure to welcome Strakka Racing in our Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing family. I am fully convinced this team has everything in place to build up a successful future with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Strakka Racing will be a great ambassador for our brand at race events worldwide, especially competing in the increasingly significant Intercontinental GT Challenge.”
Four iconic and historic venues stage Intercontinental GT Challenge rounds in 2018, starting at Mount Panorama in Australia where the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour once again opens the campaign. It’s then on to Blancpain GT Series’ showpiece, the Total 24 Hours of Spa, for Europe’s round before Suzuka stages Japan’s first ever Intercontinental GT Challenge race. The season concludes at Laguna Seca in America with the Mazda Raceway California 8 Hours.
Uniquely, Suzuka’s event will see traditional FIA GT3 cars go head-to-head against their JAF GT-spec counterparts on the same control Pirelli tyre as used around the world. Prize money totalling 100-million Yen has already been confirmed for a blue riband race that many more teams and manufacturers are expected to support in the coming months.
* Kindly note that our products and services offered are subject to change without advance notice.
* All the prices are listed in the tax-inclusive rate.
* Pictures and drawings used here are just an example.