THEY finished season 2018 on a high and when German stars Maro Engel and Luca Stolz arrive at Mount Panorama this month it will be with the goal of starting the new year in the same fashion.
The duo will form part of the three-man driver line up for Craft-Bamboo Black Falcon in the Bathurst 12 Hour, a race which draws some of the best GT teams and drivers from across the globe.
Engel and Stolz certainly rank amongst the superstars, having won last year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup drivers’ crown alongside Yelmer Buurman and in the process, helped Black Falcon to claim the team honour.
They sealed that prize in impressive fashion at the season-ending event in Barcelona, Engel opening up a good lead after going from pole position in the Mercedes-AMG, which Stolz then built on.
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At Mount Panorama they will again be behind the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG as Black Falcon pairs with former Porsche team Craft-Bamboo. Britain’s Gary Paffett is the other driver of the #77 entry.
Stolz, who placed third outright and first in class in last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour in the Black Swan Porsche, is hungry for another podium but knows it will not be easy.
“The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the greatest endurance races in the world, but it’s also challenging,” he said.
“We need to stay within the leading lap and need to keep it clean, especially in the first 45 minutes in the darkness. If we deliver a flawless performance, we could fight for the victory.”
“We have a strong package with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Craft-Bamboo Racing and Black Falcon. Last year has been a great year and we were the fastest AMG team in the Blancpain GT Series as well as at the Nürburgring.”
The 2019 edition will mark Engel’s return to the 12 Hour, having missed out last year due to a Formula E clash.
He will be looking to improve on his three prior starts in the Mount Panorama enduro, having had DNF’s in 2017 and 2016 and placed seventh in the Erebus entry in 2014.
“The Bathurst 12 Hour is one of the big highlights in the calendar with a fantastic track and a great atmosphere,” Engel, who also placed 20th in the 2013 Bathurst 1000, said.
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“After a fantastic year 2018 with Black Falcon I’m happy to race with the team together with Craft-Bamboo Racing in Bathurst for the first time – hopefully we can start 2019 in the same way we ended the last season.
“Luca and Gary are strong team-mates, who were very successful in 2018. I think we bring a strong package and will give it our all.”
The 12 Hour runs from January 31 to February 3.