THERE will be no V8 Supercar in the Ultimate Speed Comparison at this year’s Australian Grand Prix, with its place to be filled by the sinister looking Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The handicapped race traditionally pits a Formula 1 car and a V8 Supercar against a road-going production car around the Albert Park, Melbourne, circuit.
But for 2016, Mercedes will provide two of three cars – the AMG GT3 (above) and an AMG C63 S Estate (below).
Mercedes-Benz driving instructor and Aussie GT racer Peter Hackett will drive the GT3, while five-time MotoGP world champ Mick Doohan will steer the C63 S.
The F1 car’s slot will be filled by the V10-powered Minardi two seater, driven by Aussie motorsport mainstay Cameron McConville.
The announcement follows threats from V8 Supercars this week that it would quit the Australian Grand Prix in 2018 unless its races were permitted championship status by the AGP Corporation.
The new Speed Comparison cars will require a recalibration of the race’s handicap, with Mercedes Australia telling Wheels the AMG GT3 will be significantly faster than a V8 Supercar around the grand prix circuit.
As many as four AMG GT3 cars are expected to race in this year’s Australian GT Championship, campaigned by the Erebus and Eggleston motorsport teams.
“It looks like the new AMG GT3 is going to be so popular it will outsell the old SLS GT3,” said Mercedes Australia spokesperson Jerry Stamoulis. “During its life we sold 100 SLS GT3 cars globally. We already have 40 AMG GT3 orders to race this year.”
And why did Merc choose a C63 S wagon, instead of a sedan to contest the race?
“We really wanted to get the message across that it’s a standard production car,” said Stamoulis. “In previous years when we’ve chosen sedans, fans have thought they’re racing cars.”