Class victory and top five overall for SPS automotive performance at the Gulf 12 Hours

Successful end of the year for SPS automotive performance. Kenny Habul (AUS) Martin Konrad (AUT) and Philip Ellis (SUI), at the wheel of the #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3, won the Pro-Am class and finished fifth overall at the Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina Circuit. The #20 car, driven by Valentin Pierburg (GER), Martin Berry (AUS) and Dominik Baumann (AUT), unfortunately failed to finish following an incident.

SPS automotive performance was making its third appearance of 2022 at Yas Marina Circuit. The Gulf 12 Hours, which formed the season finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) for the first time, saw the Willsbach-based team go head to head against another top-class field at the end of an extraordinary year of motorsport. The #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3, starting as SunEnergy1 by SPS, laid the foundations for its success in qualifying. Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad and Philip Ellis qualified fourth in the Pro-Am class. At the start of the twelve-hour marathon at the Grand Prix circuit in Abu Dhabi, start driver Habul intelligently steered the #75 car clear of any battles, opting instead to play the long game. As the first third of the race progressed, the trio established itself in the leading group in its class and went on to take the lead around the midway point. The bright orange Mercedes-AMG GT3 also made steady progress in the overall standings, thanks to consistent and virtually flawless stints. At one point, Ellis lay second overall in the #75 car. Konrad and Ellis, who were at the wheel for the closing stages, defended their lead until the chequered flag and crossed the finish line first in the Pro-Am class. This was good enough to earn them a sensational fifth place overall in the final IGTC race of the year.

The #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, with Valentin Pierburg, Martin Berry and Dominik Baumann at the wheel, started the race from eleventh place in the Pro-Am class. Pierburg was first in the driver’s seat and, like Habul, initially stayed clear of trouble, whilst still managing to gain two positions in the class in the first hour of the race. The silver and black Mercedes-AMG GT3 consistently worked its way towards the front and was already running sixth in the Pro-Am class by the halfway point of the race. However, with roughly four and a half hours remaining, the #20 was involved in an incident on the track. Once the car had returned to the pit lane and been given a thorough check by the team, it was decided for safety reasons to retire the Mercedes-AMG GT3 due to the damage by an competitor. This was the first and only retirement for the Willsbach-based team in 2022.

And so it was that SPS automotive performance brought the curtain down on an extremely successful year with another class victory at an absolute highlight of the endurance scene. Following the final race of 2022, the team will now take a short winter break before tackling the next challenges in January.

Kenny Habul, #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Simply amazing! I’ve finished on the podium with Martin in every race of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Both of us had already been confirmed as Pro-Am champions, but of course we wanted to be among the front runners in the last race. The fact that we were able to win the class and finish 5th overall in such a strong field is all the more rewarding. Many thanks to Mercedes-AMG, the whole SPS team and especially to my driver colleagues Martin and Philip, who made the whole thing possible with their strong performance.”

Martin Konrad, #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We had a great season and a great team. We won Bathurst and were second in class at Spa and Indianapolis. The class win today is a perfect finish for us. A great performance from everyone – especially Kenny. He had a mega start and laid the foundation for Philip and me. We could hardly be happier.”

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “I’m honestly still a bit speechless right now. We were not only able to take class victory with a Pro-Am car, but even 5th overall – and that at the season finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge. You can only achieve such a result with a strong team and good drivers. The incident with our #20 is extremely unfortunate. We were on a good way and could have scored a strong team result. Despite all this, we have had an incredibly successful year. Many thanks to the whole team for this great performance.”