At the Gulf 12 Hours, SPS automotive performance concluded its most successful motorsport season to date. Two championship titles, several achievements in prestigious endurance races and winning the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship made 2022 an outstanding year. In the new season, the Willsbach-based team aims to build on its strong performance.
SPS automotive performance came full circle when the chequered flag fell at the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina Circuit. At the beginning of the year, the team started the first race of the 2022 season here and laid the basis for the most successful motorsport season in the company’s history. At the 2021 edition of the Gulf 12 Hours, which was postponed to the beginning of January 2022 due to the pandemic, the team immediately put an exclamation mark on its performance with a second place overall and class victory in ProAm with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Valentin Pierburg (GER), Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Christoph Lenz (SUI). After initial difficulties, the trio of Kenny Habul (AUS), Mikaël Grenier (CAN) and Maro Engel (GER) in the #75 sister car scored a top-10 finish and second place in the Pro class after a strong recovery.
The next success story followed just one week later at the Dubai Autodrome: After an incident at the beginning of the 24h of Dubai through no fault of their own, the #75 car with Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad (AUT), Mikaël Grenier and Maro Engel fought its way back into the leading group after being a lap down. Through a strategic masterstroke, the team captured third place overall in a furious finale about ten minutes before the end of the race. The sister car with starting number 20 rounded off the strong team result with second position in the GT3-AM class. Here, Valentin Pierburg, Scotsman Ian Loggie, George Kurtz (USA) and Reema Juffali (KSA) – who was contesting her first GT3 race – drove the Willsbach-based team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3.
But that was not the end of the racing season in the Middle East. In February, the four rounds of the Asian Le Mans Series at Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit were on the schedule, which were held on two consecutive weekends. In these highly exciting races, Pierburg, Loggie and Grenier celebrated two class victories and two more second place finnishes in the GT-AM. For SPS automotive performance, this meant the first championship title of the season.
The team also confirmed its excellent form at the start of the European season. At the opening round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Endurance Cup in Imola, Italy, Valentin Pierburg, Dominik Baumann and Ian Loggie in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the class win in the Pro-Am category straight away and repeated this success at the second round of the season at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The highlight of the GT World Challenge season came at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Here, the team competed with an international and powerful driver line-up in both the Pro-Am Cup and the Bronze Cup, each with a Mercedes-AMG GT3. In both classes, the team and drivers put in a very strong performance. The #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, which started in the Bronze Cup with Valentin Pierburg, George Kurtz, Reema Juffali and Tim Müller (GER), forfeited the lead in class in the evening due to an incident caused by a competitor. After several hours of recovery, the #20 car regained the lead and won the Bronze Cup in commanding fashion. The #75 sister car took up the race from the pit lane after an engine change. Thanks to an almost faultless race by the driver quartet of Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Dominik Baumann and Philip Ellis (SUI), the Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished the race in an excellent second position in the Pro-Am Cup at the 24 Hours of Spa. After another second place at the home race at the Hockenheimring, the final showdown took place at the final round of the GT World Challenge at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Only five points separated SPS automotive performance from the first chaser in the championship standings. However, with their third class victory in the fifth race of the season, the team confidently secured the title in the Pro-Am team classification of the Endurance Cup in this high-class racing series. In the drivers’ standings, Valentin Pierburg and Dominik Baumann finished second in their category.
In the International GT Open, SPS automotive performance competed with Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler in the PROAM class. With a class win and several class podiums, the Swiss duo in the black-and-red #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished third in the championship, level on points behind their second-placed brand colleagues from Theeba Motorsport. SPS automotive performance also shares a common past with this team. At the first race of the season in Estoril, SPS was still in charge of this new team’s first outing and, with Adam Christodoulou (GBR) and Reema Juffali, they took class victories in the PROAM category in both races.
The FIA Motorsport Games represented another highlight in the 2022 motorsport calendar: 463 athletes from 72 nations competed for medals in 16 motorsport disciplines at Circuit Paul Ricard. SPS automotive performance entered the vehicles for Team Germany and the team from Switzerland in the GT and GT Sprint competitions. After two commanding victories in the qualifying races by Valentin Pierburg and Fabian Schiller for the German team, the duo narrowly missed out on the gold medal in the GT discipline due to an unfortunate safety car phase at the end of the race. The Swiss team with Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler also achieved a strong result with fifth place. In the high-class race of the GT Sprint competition, Luca Stolz finished fourth for Germany. Yannick Mettler claimed a top ten finish for the Swiss with tenth.
The Gulf 12 Hours formed the crowning finale of the 2022 motorsport year. For the first time, the race at the Yas Marina Circuit was also the season finale of the top-class Intercontinental GT Challenge. SPS automotive performance also impressed with a strong performance in the final race of the season. Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad and Philip Ellis not only took class victory in the Pro-Am category in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75, but also finished in a strong fifth place overall.
In addition to the successful customer sports programme, a world premiere was represented in the 2022 schedule. SPS automotive performance was able to run the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT Track Series under competitive conditions as part of the GT2 European Series at the Red Bull Ring and put it through an extensive test run before delivery to the customer. DTM icon Bernd Schneider (GER) and SRO founder Stéphane Ratel (FRA) were in action as drivers during this extraordinary race weekend.
A highlight away from the racetrack was the Mercedes-AMG end-of-season party, which took place in Barcelona at the beginning of November. At the gala, SPS automotive performance was honoured for the first time as the best GT3 team in the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship. Winning the brand-internal competition confirms the great commitment and consistent orientation of SPS automotive performance as a private customer sports team.
In the coming year, the team from Willsbach would like to continue its streak of success. Entries in many attractive racing series are planned for 2023. Although the planning has not yet been completed, motorsport fans can look forward to many exciting races.
Achievements SPS automotive performance 2022:
|Gulf 12 Hours 2021
|Valentin Pierburg, Christoph Lenz, Dominik Baumann
|Gulf 12 Hours 2021
|Kenny Habul, Mikaël Grenier, Maro Engel
|Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Mikaël Grenier, Maro Engel
|Valentin Pierburg, Ian Loggie, George Kurtz, Reema Juffali
|Asian Le Mans Series
|Valentin Pierburg, Ian Loggie, Mikaël Grenier
24 Hours of Spa
|Valentin Pierburg, George Kurtz, Tim Müller, Reema Juffali
24 Hours of Spa
|Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Dominik Baumann, Philip Ellis
|GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup
|Valentin Pierburg, Dominik Baumann, Ian Loggie, Martin Konrad
|GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup
|Valentin Pierburg, Dominik Baumann
|International GT Open
|Dexter Müller, Yannick Mettler
|FIA Motorsport Games
|Valentin Pierburg, Fabian Schiller
|Gulf 12 Hours 2022
|Kenny Habul, Martin Konrad, Philip Ellis