An impressive team performance saw SPS automotive performance claim class victory in the Bronze Cup at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, as well as second position in der Pro-Am category. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20 with Valentin Pierburg (GER), George Kurtz (USA), Reema Juffali (KSA) and Tim Müller (GER), and the team’s #75 car with Kenny Habul (AUS), Martin Konrad, Dominik Baumann (both AUT) and Philip Ellis (SUI) both made up a large deficit during the race to secure deserved podium spots in their classes.
The 74th edition of the 24 Hours of Spa was characterised by numerous incidents and safety car phases, and was interrupted for nearly one hour. The extremely challenging circuit in the Belgian Ardennes demanded absolutely everything from drivers and machines. The #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Valentin Pierburg, George Kurtz, Reema Juffali and Tim Müller at the wheel was competing in the Bronze Cup. The quartet produced a commanding performance in qualifying to secure pole position and were among the favourites for victory. However, the race did not initially go as planned. A defective shock absorber required extensive repairs in the opening phase, knocking the black Mercedes-AMG GT3 back to second place. Later in the evening, they found themselves several laps behind the leaders as the front end of the car was replaced after a not-at-fault collision with a rival in the pit lane. However, the quartet battled back with fast lap times and smart strategy, moving back into the lead in the Bronze Cup during the early hours. In the closing phase, the #20 moved back into the lead around two and a half hours before the end of the race as the leader struggled with technical issues. Reema Juffali, at the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20 for the final stint, managed the lead very calmly and crossed the finishing line as class winner.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75, racing as SunEnergy1 by SPS in the Pro-Am category, also made a less than ideal start to the weekend. Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Philip Ellis and Dominik Baumann qualified in fifth place in the Pro-Am class. After a not-at-fault incident in the subsequent night-time practice session, they were forced to replace the engine in the #75 car for safety reasons. According to the regulations, they then had to start the race from the pit lane. The team led by Kenny Habul also mastered this challenge with distinction. By late evening, the orange and blue Mercedes-AMG GT3 had moved up more than 25 positions in the overall standings. Near faultless stints put the team on course for a podium in the morning as they benefited from some slip-ups by their rivals. In the final quarter of the race, an outstanding driving performance put the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75 in second place, on the steps of the rostrum in the Pro-Am category.
This meant that SPS automotive performance was able to reach the podium with both cars in their classes at the greatest GT3 race in the world. After a brief summer break, the team from Willsbach head to their home race at the Hockenheimring, where the next Endurance Cup event in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe will be taking place.
Valentin Pierburg, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20: “It was an extremely tough race with plenty of challenges. To be honest, I didn’t believe that we would finish the race. It was really tough out there, especially during the night. I am so proud of the whole team, especially the pit crew. It is a team sport. And we did some great work as a team.”
Kenny Habul, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75: “Simply unbelievable. After replacing the engine, we had to start from the pit land and, if I’m honest, we didn’t really believe we could do it. But the performance from my driving team-mates and the whole team during the weekend is simply superb.”
Stephan Sohn, Team Principal SPS automotive performance: “Firstly, I would like to thank all the drivers and the whole team for making this success possible. We got both cars over the finishing line, which is anything but certain at this race. Then there was the chasing performance both cars produced, which led to the class win and the podium finish. We are extremely proud of that.”