GruppeM Targeting Full-Season IGTC Program

  • GruppeM Racing confirms Bathurst, Kyalami entries with plans to do full IGTC campaign…

GruppeM Racing is targeting a full-season Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli program with Mercedes-AMG next year, according to team owner Kenny Chen.

The Hong Kong-based team, which has its main workshop in Germany, spent the last two years in the DTM but is planning to focus on endurance racing moving forward.

It previously entered the IGTC full-time in 2019, after winning the preceding season’s Suzuka 10 Hours, and also raced at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa this year.

GruppeM brought two shipping containers to last weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours in the United Arab Emirates.

During that event, its plan was to ship one to Australia for the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour on Feb. 3-5 and one to South Africa for the Kyalami 9 Hour on Feb. 23-25.

Each container includes a single Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that the team used for its Gulf 12H program under the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing banner.

“The only way to do it is to have two sets of equipment and two cars going in separate containers,” Chen told Sportscar365.

“[A full season in IGTC] would be our main target, and towards the end of the year we would go back to Macau again.

“IGTC is where we enjoy the most. It’s what we have been doing for many years. I enjoy it.

“You come to different places and race with all the manufacturers and top teams in the endurance way.”

Chen explained that GruppeM has a spare IGTC car at its base in Germany that it can engage in case of any logistical hiccups for the sea container-based vehicles.

The team’s logistical program means that it is set to contest Bathurst and Kyalami with single-car entries, although Chen said that additional cars could arise for other rounds.

Next year’s IGTC schedule also includes the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, the Indianapolis 8 Hour and the Gulf 12 Hours.

“Probably some of the races we will do two cars, like the Gulf 12 Hours,” said Chen.

“But that depends on logistics and work, and what the plan is that AMG has put together.

“One car is just for when the logistics doesn’t fit, we can go [straight away]. Or we can use it for some additional testing or some other races.”

Those extra races could occur in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, which shares the 24 Hours of Spa with IGTC. Both series are run by SRO Motorsports Group.

“We might do a few selected [GTWC Europe] races,” Chen suggested. “But that is not the full program: just something in between that we might do, as additional things.

“But that has not been confirmed yet.”

GruppeM Racing is set to exit the now ADAC-promoted DTM after two seasons with Mercedes-AMG. It ran this year’s IGTC champion Daniel Juncadella in 2021 and fielded a pair of cars for Maro Engel and Mikael Grenier this year.

Chen explained that the budgets in IGTC, despite the more extreme logistical requirements, are more predictable than in the DTM where the team was caught up in several accidents.

GruppeM Racing went through four Mercedes-AMG chassis in the most recent DTM season.

“DTM is interesting and very competitive, but there are too many [variables] with the format,” Chen said.

“This, compared with DTM, is much easier. It’s much more efficient to fix and deal with things. The budget is pretty much predictable.

“We can give and take the contingencies of around 20 percent. Usually, you’re within the budget. But in the DTM we are way over budget.

“Towards the end, you need half the mentality that the car will be destroyed at the weekend. Because if you’re not in the top six, that’s it.”